Have Your Say

Scrutiny

Scrutiny@ssdc

 

  • Is there anything you want to say to South Somerset District Council?
  • What do you think we could be doing better?
  • Do you have ideas that you think we should listen to?

 

Scrutiny@ssdc has been designed to get the voice of the community heard by the decision makers, but we need you to get involved.

 

You Decide!

Much of how the Council works has to follow formal structures and processes - Scrutiny is different. There are some official Scrutiny roles and responsibilities but one of the best things about Scrutiny is that it can be used to look at issues of local concern and recommend ways to make things better. Here is a list of some of things that Scrutiny Committees across the country have looked at, perhaps this will give you some ideas for similar things you would Scrutiny@ssdc to look at?

Scrutiny can look at a wide range of things, in fact, working with you, we can look at any issue which affects the community we serve, whether SSDC is responsible or not. Our aim is to ensure that we work with everyone delivering services in our district to get the best possible results for our residents.

  • Road Safety
  • Response to adverse winter weather
  • Leisure provision for the under 18's and over 50's
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Issues affecting young people looking to access further education or employment in the district
  • Setting speed limits
  • Household recycling
  • Looking at how out of hours doctors' services are provided
  • Accessing social housing
  • Impact of budget reductions across the public sector
  • Match day parking surrounding football stadium
  • Reviewing the impact of changes in service provision by train operating companies

Our elected Councillors work really hard to make sure any issues within their areas are addressed and resolved. However, sometimes, they may not know about something that is really important to you and where SSDC could really help make a difference. You can help by contacting your Ward Councillor or by contacting Scrutiny directly either online or through Emily Mcguinness, Scrutiny Manager 01935 462566 for an informal chat.

All ideas and suggestions for Scrutiny will be carefully looked at by Councillors and officers to see how Scrutiny can make a difference. To make sure that all ideas are treated equally, we use a set of Selection Criteria, including:

 

Has this topic been recently reviewed by another set of Councillors and/or officers?

If the answer is yes, this doesn't mean Scrutiny won't agree to further investigate the matter, it just means we'll look at see what conclusions have already been reached and if there is any potential for further work. Under recent changes to the law relating to Scrutiny, members of the public can bring items forward to their local councillor if they are not happy with a response already given - this is called a Councillor Call for Action and means that the Councillor can ask for a matter for to be included on a Scrutiny Committee Meeting agenda. There are a couple of important things to note though:

-         Scrutiny cannot look at issues relating to planning or licensing decisions;

-         Scrutiny will only take forward issues where they feel they can add value to the services provided to all our residents. There is a separate Complaints Procedure in place to deal with any individual complaints you may have about any aspect of our service delivery.

We have to ensure that we use of valuable resources in the best possible way. Sometimes the issue you want to bring forward may be unique to a specific part of the district. Scrutiny members will do a little investigation to see if the issue is occurring elsewhere in South Somerset and if it is, may well decide to conduct a Scrutiny Review. However, if they find that it only impacts on one location, we will recommend that the Area Committee covering that location looks into the matter. So just because it may not be appropriate for Scrutiny to take the matter forward, we have other things in place to help.

 

The involvement of Scrutiny will lead to improved value for money

 

At the current time, everyone is looking for ways to make better use of their money and SSDC is no different. We are constantly looking for new ways to do things to try and save money whilst carrying on delivering good services. We know that the people who live in our district have their own ideas about things we could do differently and Scrutiny is your opportunity to let us know!

 

New Government legislation means that there will be a change in service delivery

 

SSDC is constantly being asked to review and change how we deliver services - Scrutiny is a useful way of involving the public in discussions about how we provide their services in the future.

 

What is the Scrutiny Committee?

Scrutiny is just as the name suggests - an opportunity to look closely at the issues that matter to people who live and work in South Somerset.

There are 14 Councillors on the Scrutiny Committee and they mirror the political balance of the Council - this means there are  7 Lib dem, 6 Conservative and 1 Independent.

The Committee meets once a month - usually at the Council Offices in Brympton Way but we can meet in other venues if it makes it easier for members of the public to attend. We are hoping to have more meetings out and about in the future so if you think there is an important issue in your community that you want to bring to the attention of Councillors - why not Contact us either online or through Emily Mcguinness, Scrutiny Manager 01935 462566.

The monthly meetings are the more formal side of Scrutiny (although it is still less formal than many other more traditional committees). In between meetings, the members often form smaller Working Groups to do more in-depth investigations.

 

Holding the Executive to account

This is another important part of Scrutiny's work and is set to become even more so in the future. As with other local councils, and indeed the national government, at SSDC, important decisions are taken by our District Executive.  We believe it is important that these decisions can stand up to Scrutiny and that our residents understand how and why decisions are taken.

Through our Scrutiny Committee, Councillors who are not members of the Executive have the opportunity to question the Executive Councillors questions. This process ensures transparency in our decision making processes. As well as being an opportunity for other Councillors to ask questions on behalf of their constituents, members of the public can use Scrutiny for the same purpose.

Every month we publish the agenda for the next meeting of the District Executive - this agenda sets out what decisions the Councillors will be considering and the reasons why. You can access the agendas here. If you spot something you would like to know more about or want to comment on, you can contact Scrutiny. The Scrutiny Committee meets two days before District Executive.

 

Suggest a topic that you believe needs investigating

Become part of an investigation

 

Scrutiny does not deal with individual concerns, queries or complaints.  If you are unhappy about a service you have personally received from the District Council read more about the Council's complaints procedure.