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Chairman's Column - 2 March 2021

Published on Wednesday, 3rd March 2021

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee

“When it comes to the ethics and probity of Maldon District Council, who keeps an eye on things to make sure it demonstrates good value for public money, and is efficient and effective as a public organisation?

“Well, we have an ‘Overview and Scrutiny’ Committee which is made up of ten Maldon District Councillors. It is politically balanced with five Councillors from the governing Independent administration and five from the opposition (three Conservative Councillors and two from the Democratic Alliance Group). New members are appointed annually, and this reflects a good cross section of local Councillors who are able and free to challenge any decisions or policies made by or followed by the Council.

“The principal responsibilities of this committee are to examine the performance of the Council’s other committees and their decisions, and sometimes, decisions that are made by Officers of the Council, about service plans and targets. This is to ensure the effective management of risk to the Council and to monitor value-for-money.

“Members of this committee need to be inquisitive and on-the-ball, so they have an early induction training course on their role to fully understand its function. Some Members, however, are NOT permitted to sit on this committee; in fact, being Chairman of the Council, I am excluded! This also extends to the Leader, Deputy Leader and any Councillors on the main committees because these are the people who are more likely to be involved in making those big decisions which could very well be the subject of future scrutiny. Therefore, there is a need to demonstrate to the public that they are impartial. So, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee or ‘O&S’ as it is commonly referred to, can ask for ANY items that relate to Council functions to be scrutinized.

“The Overview and Scrutiny Committee can also review and scrutinize the performance of other public bodies in the Maldon District. Where we can, we try to conduct as much of the committee’s proceedings as possible openly, and in the public domain.

“This same committee also meets twice a year as a Crime and Disorder Committee and can ask the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner to appear before the committee in connection with crime and disorder functions; I will perhaps explain more about this committee in a future article.

“Rest assured that Maldon District Council has a robust process in place to ensure the Council can identify any failing issues and introduce good practice from the outcome of the scrutiny process, learn why decisions were made, then, ultimately make any recommendations to the whole Council to put in place any improvement measures. It is a really worthwhile committee.”

Councillor Mark S Heard

Chairman of Maldon District Council