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Singing our praise

Every year the scrutiny committees publish their annual report describing what they have been up to and what they have achieved. Being able to trace tangible outcomes is one of the challenges scrutiny faces but this year, we have achieved a number of things. This year’s annual report will be presented to the last meeting of the County Council before the elections, on 25 April.

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The deed is done… We have a budget!

Last night, the County Council set its annual budget for 2013/14. More than £521 million will be spent on providing services for people living and working in Devon next year. Scrutiny helped shape the budget proposals and many of the suggestions made by scrutiny committees were taken forward.

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Snow me the money!

The scrutiny of the 2013/14 budget is in full swing – this week all the scrutiny committees had a close look at the proposals for the services they usually review and how they’re going to be funded over the next 14 months or so.

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That time of the year again… Let’s talk money

2012 hasn't been an easy year for local government, with a very difficult financial climate and increasing pressure to deliver more with less, the financial climate will remain unsettled in the medium term. During January, individual scrutiny committees will take a close look at the proposed 2013/14 budgets of the service area(s) they normally review before all scrutiny members get together and agree one collective set of recommendations to the Cabinet. Do get involved!

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A Successful Scrutiny year

 

My esteemed colleagues have already covered Christmas wishes and festivities as well as the serious business of on-going work at this time of year. So on Christmas Eve as the ending of the year, and the beginning of a new it falls to me to reflect on the successes and to look to the forthcoming year.

This year has seen an unprecedented amount of scrutiny activity. This year in excess of twelve task groups have taken place supported by Dan, Janine and I. These have ranged across the spectrum of Council and community activity and include: Welfare benefit reforms, the Armed Forces Covenant, external placements of children and adults with special educational needs, Devon personalised learning service, dementia, carers, utility reinstatements and many, many more.… Continue reading

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Scrutiny at Christmas

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As we rapidly approach this most festive of seasons there is little or no let up for People’s Scrutiny…

 

The External Placements Task Group is due to be published on the 10 January 2013 Committee agenda and so I find myself in one of the trickiest parts of our role, trying to agree a final report. Members need to surmise their findings into something meaningful and above all helpful to the County Council, but this is no easy process. External placements is for instance an incredibly complex area, with huge budget pressures and myriad issues to consider. The County Council is also operating at a time of great change, and since the review began there have been significant developments in terms of both national and local policy.… Continue reading

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Feliz Navidad +++ Joyeux Noël +++ Frohe Weihnachten

Last week the scrutiny team could be seen in action – mystery shopping and seeking out undercover evidence in and around Exeter for our Christmas do. We made a fair effort in dressing up too... and we would like to say thank you to everyone who supported scrutiny during the year.

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The hidden dangers of falling: Not just for the elderly…

Approximately one in three people aged over 65 will fall in any one year in Devon. This figure rises to one in two in the over 85s. Because the problem of people falling is so sizeable, it is really important that professionals from all walks of life deliver services which provide the best possible outcomes for patients - but also that people make better lifestyle choices for themselves throughout their lives.

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Who does what?

A week ago one of our scrutiny committees held a “spotlight review” looking at the working relationship between the County Council and the community and voluntary sector. A spotlight review is the term we use for a task group squished into one meeting. They are particularly useful for gaining a quick, in-depth view of a topic which members are already familiar with, or to get all the relevant people in the room at the same time. Some other councils call them “enquiry days” or “commissions”.

The Councillors spoke to people from the community and voluntary sector and had an insightful discussion about pressures, challenges and what is working well.… Continue reading

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To blog, or not to blog…

Having sat down to write my first ever blog, it seems pertinent to consider why I might be doing this??!

I can see with my fairly limited understanding of new media that there’s scope through blogging to broaden the word on Scrutiny, which can only be a good thing. Scrutiny needs all the help it can get. I’ve worked in Scrutiny for more than 8 years, and have yet to meet someone outside of work who’s actually heard of Scrutiny (my friends and family apart). Clearly there is considerable work to be done!

At the very heart of the Scrutiny function is giving local people a say on a local issues and decisions.… Continue reading

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