We know how important it is that a council can be held to account and stand up to close scrutiny by you, the people we represent.

That is why South Hams District Council has Scrutiny Panels to make sure that a robust process is firmly in place and procedures are being properly monitored on your behalf.

South Hams District Council aims to have a scrutiny function that adheres to the Centre for Public Scrutiny's four principles of good scrutiny:

  • Provides critical challenge to executive policy makers and decision makers
  • Enables the voice and concerns of the public to be heard
  • Is carried out by 'independent minded governors' who lead and own the scrutiny role
  • Drives improvement in public services

There is a Scrutiny Panel of 13 Members which supports the work of the Executive and the Council as a whole:

Reports and recommendations are put by this Panel to the Executive and the Council to advise on policy, budget and service delivery.

The Scrutiny Panel also monitors the decisions of the Executive and have the ability to 'call-in' decisions made by the Executive which are still to be implemented. This enables the Scrutiny Panel to consider whether the decision made was appropriate and if it should recommend that the Executive or full Council reconsider the decision. Scrutiny may also be consulted by the Executive or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.

The Membership on the Panel will be determined at the Annual Meeting of the Council each May, but each non-executive councillor is expected to sit on this Council body.

Public Forum

Members of the public may raise issues and ask questions at meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel in relation to items on the agenda. This session will last for up to fifteen minutes at the beginning of each meeting.

An issue or question may only be raised by a member of the public provided that they have given written notice by email Member.Services@swdevon.gov.uk to the Senior Specialist - Democratic Services by 5.00pm on the Monday prior to the Meeting.

An issue may be rejected by the Monitoring Officer if:

  • It relates to a matter within the functions of the Development Management Committee;
  • It is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the district;
  • It is offensive, frivolous or defamatory;
  • It is substantially the same as a question which has previously been put in the past six months;
  • It requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.

Policy Development and Review

In this role, Scrutiny Panels can review the Council's policies to assess whether the intended policy outcomes have been achieved and can also assist the Council during the early development of new policies and the formulation of key plans. Very often policy review can lead to recommendations to develop new policy. This work can be carried out by a Scrutiny Panel or a Panel may assign this task to a smaller number of Members in the form of a Task and Finish Group.  Carefully choosing which topics to review can help the Council to focus on the issues that matter to local people most and derive real outcomes for them.

New Standards Functions

Under the Localism Act, the new Standards functions (which include responsibility for the new Code of Conduct and consideration of Standards complaints) have been delegated to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel.