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Luton Borough Council

Overview and scrutiny


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Overview and scrutiny can, on your behalf, hold our executive and some external organisations (including fire, police and health services) to account for decisions they have made and their performance. It works with them to develop and improve policies.

Parent governor representatives to sit on the scrutiny children’s services review group.
Further information.

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Since 2000, we have placed most of the decision-making powers in the hands of the executive. Scrutiny plays a vital role in the decision making and policy development processes by giving an independent view.

Effectively, the scrutiny process is like having our own 'watchdog'. It provides a chance to get a second opinion on key decisions made by our executive. It can also be used to:

  • inform and review any of our plans, policies or strategies
  • question our, or any other public services, existing practices that may cause concern

Fire, police and health are examples of other services that may also be reviewed by scrutiny.

Scrutiny cannot look into individuals’ issues or complaints but they can look at issues that are of concern to local communities. Overview and scrutiny cannot look into planning or licensing issues or matters subject to current legal consideration, eg a pending court case.

Scrutiny enables non-executive members to:

  • improve services and policies and on behalf of the local community
  • look at the issues of concern to them
  • challenge and hold the executive and senior officers to account for their actions

Executive members may not serve on any scrutiny committees. Any councillor can call-in items from executive for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Scrutiny can also include people (co-opted members), in the main non- voting from outside the council.

The Overview and Security Board (OSB) has overall responsibility for leading and managing all scrutiny matters. It is our main body for public sector accountability and strategy development.

The board consists of ten members, none of whom may sit on the executive. It is good scrutiny practice for the chair of the OSB to be a member of a minority group.

Scrutiny members promote the overview and scrutiny process. They contribute to the preparation of reports and the formulation of recommendations including the development of the annual work programme. They cannot be executive members.

Click here to view members of the OSB.

The board established the following three review groups:

These three groups are made up of councillors from all political parties represented on the council. Some groups have also appointed co-opted- members from outside the council, such as school parent governors and health representatives.

Time-limited task and finish groups scrutinise specific, relevant local issues which impact on the lives of local residents.

The OSB board will select the topic and agree the board parameters. Once a task and finish group has reached a conclusion, a final report will be produced that includes the groups workings, findings and a set of recommendations with justifications.

Task and finish final reports

Call-in is where any two members of the council believe that an executive decision has not been made correctly and require this decision to be considered by the OSB before the decision is implemented.

This must be done within set deadlines and must meet set criteria. The OSB will consider the called-in decision and can take one of the following actions:

  • indicate that they have no objection to the called-in decision being implemented
  • refer the decision back to the executive for reconsideration and may recommend that the decision be amended in some way;
  • refer the decision to a task and finish group
  • refer the decision to council
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