Posted on 23/05/2018

I am delighted to publish the first ever Scrutiny Chair’s blog at the close of the Municipal Year following last year’s local government elections. The last twelve months have been productive for the Council’s Scrutiny functions, and have seen this side of the Council’s decision making processes continue to add value to the policy direction of the Council.

This has only been possible thanks to the hard work of all Members and Officers, through their recognition that Scrutiny has an important role to play and an enthusiasm to see its roles and contributions develop further. Throughout this period my fellow Chairs and Vice-Chairs have shared the same vision to make Scrutiny relevant and meaningful to local residents. We are focussed on issues which effect local communities and matter to the residents we represent. The work undertaken by Scrutiny Members to implement the wishes of full Council, to in improving the provision of free sanitary products for young women in Rhondda Cynon Taf has demonstrated this.

We have demonstrated how the ability of Scrutiny to delve deep into key policy areas results in practical solutions to help the Council meet the objectives all Elected Members have set within the Council’s Corporate Plan. The continued development of pre-Scrutiny is also allowing all members to shape key policy directions in terms of how we make the Council services that we provide today relevant for the future, in order to address and meet demographic and economic changes. 

In November, Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) also debated and analysed a report outlining current fire safety arrangements for social and supported housing in Rhondda Cynon Taf, following the tragic events at the Grenfell Tower last year.  The report confirmed that the Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Project Team has carried out 491 annual safety inspections of licensed Houses of Multiple Occupancy and provided assurances that the remaining Licensed HMOs will undergo an annual inspection.  A further report has since been presented, outlining external cladding applications on the Council’s office accommodation and large schools.  The Members of the O&S Committee accepted the recommendations of the report to re-establish the Fire Safety Working Group and for the Health and Safety team to continue their rolling programme of Fire Safety audits.

This year has seen once again many improvements - one-to-one engagement sessions have been established between Cabinet Members, responsible Officers and the relevant Scrutiny Chairs/Vice Chairs, which further enhances dialogue and the flow of information in terms of the work programmes of both Cabinet and Scrutiny.  The Cabinet/Scrutiny engagement was further enhanced by Cabinet Members and their respective Chief Officer(s) attending meetings of the Scrutiny

Committees and presenting relevant information which provided Scrutiny Members with the opportunity to challenge the Executive to ensure Scrutiny continues to act as the critical friend of the Council, to support progress and meet the challenges our County faces in the future.

Engaging the public in these discussions has been a key priority for me as Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, and I’m sure that I share this with all Members of the Council. This blog is further evidence of the progress we are making in this respect, alongside the many recent enhancements we have made, from our new dedicated webpages, through to our meetings now taking place across our County Borough. In the new Municipal Year, plans are being proposed to further the opportunity for residents to contribute to Scrutiny meetings, and we will further utilise the opportunities provided by social media to tell the story of how Scrutiny is working for local residents to engage further in our work.

If I have the privilege of being re-elected as the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny at the Council’s Annual General Meeting later this week, I will take the opportunity to present the Annual Scrutiny Report, which highlights the achievements of Scrutiny and the contribution all Members have made over the last twelve months. You can find this report at: https://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/EN/Council/CouncillorsCommitteesandMeetings/Meetings/Council/2018/05/23/Reports/AgendaItem14ScrutinyAnnualReport201718.pdf

Posted on 23/05/2018