Scrutiny Shaping Merton for the Better

Merton Council has heard of the `exciting opportunities’ that the Overview and Scrutiny function can play in shaping the borough for the better. Overview and Scrutiny is the way that the council’s Cabinet is held to account, to make sure that they take the right decisions for the borough. It also reviews council services and issues of local concern to enable the council and partner organisations to improve or develop new policy to meet the needs of local people.

The Annual Overview and Scrutiny report was considered at the meeting of full council in the Civic Centre on Wednesday, September 19.

Some of the highlights included in the report included:

The role played in the development proposals for Mitcham town centre
The role in evaluating whether to transfer the council’s housing stock
A wide ranging work programme, including six occasions where Cabinet decisions were `called in’ for greater scrutiny

The Annual Report also highlights how local people have been involved in overview and scrutiny work, for example:

Local tenant and leaseholder representatives were co-opted onto a scrutiny task group investigating the council’s housing repairs service;
Around 150 local people put forward their views on the Planning Application Process scrutiny review through questionnaires and public meetings; and
Service users in the Council’s libraries took time out to have a coffee and a chat about what they thought of the facilities on offer at coffee mornings run by scrutiny councillors in the libraries.

And Scrutiny Councillors now want to hear from you. Current scrutiny reviews are looking at:

Gang activity among young people in Merton – looking at ways to discourage young people from joining criminal gangs in Merton;
Sports and active recreation in Merton – looking at how sport and active recreation opportunities are provided in Merton, including the most appropriate way of delivering these services in the future;
GP Services – engaging with GPs on how local residents can access the services provided through surgeries and to identify any key issues that need to be addressed; and
The transport and pedestrian bottleneck in Wimbledon town centre at afternoon rush hour.

The Scrutiny Committees want to hear from residents and other interested parties about these issues, or indeed any other local issues people feel should be looked at more closely.

Councillor Peter Southgate, Chairman of the Scrutiny Commission, said: “We shed light on how decisions are made and have achieved greater transparency. We realise there are chall