Merton Council last week hosted the first learning event organised by the London Scrutiny Network for scrutiny practitioners across the capital.
The learning conference focussed on the new Councillor Call for Action and new powers for overview and scrutiny, and brought together members and council officers involved in overview and scrutiny from all across London.
The event took a collective learning approach to the new tools that will impact on overview and scrutiny, as finalised in the recent Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act. The event was fully booked with 73 attendees at the conference, including representation from 28 councils (27 of which being London boroughs), and 6 other organisations.
Councillor Peter Southgate, Chair of Merton’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission, chaired the event and led discussions on areas such as the new legislation and the implications for scrutiny, the implications for ward councillors and real life experiences of how it will work from pilots. Mark Rickard from the Department of Communities and Local Government was also at hand to give the perspective on the act from central government.
Councillor Southgate, who was delighted with the day, said: “The new tools available to both ward councillors and scrutiny will involve many different organisations and partnership working will be key to our success, so to see so many councillors and officer representatives from so many councils, and also partners from the police, at the event bodes well for the implementation of these new powers.
“I think people involved with scrutiny were quite nervous about what this new act would mean for them and whether it would add more complications to their workload, but the day clarified that Councillor Call for Action isn’t just a scrutiny-led mechanism and that it will cover many different issues.
“From feedback at the event, the attendees now seem clearer about what this will involve and have left with plenty of food for thought about how they might respond.”
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