Posted: Thu 4th Apr 2024

Major Changes to Scrutiny Arrangements at Neath Port Talbot Council Following Audit Wales Review

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

The ways in which Neath Port Talbot Council scrutinise items and agendas are set for major changes in the coming months following a review from Audit Wales.
The move will see a number of alterations on how members of the council carry out scrutiny arrangements, including the removal of separate cabinet boards, with all decisions now to be made at a main cabinet on a more frequent basis.
It came after a review of the scrutiny arrangements at Neath Port Talbot Council which was carried out by Audit Wales in 2023 and highlighted how the council was “missing opportunities for scrutiny to maximise its impact, influence and effectiveness in holding cabinet to account, shaping council policies and reviewing performance”.
It also added that the current arrangements were not “fulfilling many important aspects of its role, which increases the risk that members do not make informed decisions in a timely manner”.
As such a task and finish group made up of scrutiny members and other stakeholders was formed to investigate how models of scrutiny worked at other councils across Wales.
From the research they identified a number of themes which they considered important and wanted to see in any new model of scrutiny for the authority moving forward.
These included holding cabinet members to account, putting more emphasis  on public engagement, and giving all members the opportunity to be involved in decisions at an earlier stage.
They proposed doing this through a series of changes – firstly in removing separate cabinet boards with decision making given to cabinet so that members and the general public can see all matters in one document.
There will also be a pre-briefing for scrutiny members in future, which will be held 48 hours before meetings to allow for better planning and an orderly structure.
Additionally cabinet members will now have an increased role in the scrutiny process – presenting reports and answering questions with support from council officers.
Cllr Phil Rogers is the scrutiny champion for Neath Port Talbot Council and said: “Whilst this is a major change to the current arrangements for those cabinet members, officers, and scrutiny members, and it will take a small time to adjust, I do feel this is a positive step forward.”
It was noted that despite the changes there would still be four scrutiny committees kept in place. These are the community, finance, and strategic leadership committee, the environment, regeneration and streetscene committee, the education, skills and wellbeing committee, and the social services, housing and community safety committee.
The proposals were later approved unanimously by members and will now come in to effect in May of 2024 following the authority’s annual general meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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