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SCRUTINY CONCERNS COULD SEE RISE OF 'CRITICAL FRIENDS'

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Councillors and officers are being asked to improve scrutiny, amid widespread concern over its performance....
Councillors and officers are being asked to improve scrutiny, amid widespread concern over its performance.

The Centre for Public Scrutiny has launched a self-evaluation questionnaire to prompt councils to think about how their councillors can more effectively act as critical friends to executives.

This comes after an exclusive LGC survey revealed that local government managers gave backbench councillors an average approval rating of 4.26 out of 10 - way below the rating for cabinet members - reflecting dissatisfaction over backbenchers' ability to properly scrutinise decisions (LGC, 7 April).

Councils are being encouraged to use the framework - which is available online - adding their own questions if they wish, to produce improvement action plans.

'We've been quite open in saying it's entirely down to you as an authority how you use this,' said the centre's research and information adviser Gareth Wall. 'This self-evaluation framework provides, for the first time, a mechanism for all local authorities to demonstrate scrutiny's effectiveness and identify ways to get better at it.'

The centre hopes the questionnaire will uphold the 'four principles of good scrutiny': acting as a critical friend to executives, voicing public concerns, leading the scrutiny process, and improving service delivery.

www.cfps.org.uk/improvement

Keeping an eye on the scrutineers

>> Does scrutiny provide an effective challenge to the executive?

>> Are external partners involved?

>> Does scrutiny work effectively with senior management?

>> How is the work of scrutiny informed by the public?

>> Does scrutiny operate with political impartiality?

>> What evidence is there to show scrutiny has contributed

to improvement?

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