This meetup on 19th January was Open Space so participants got to pick the topics and choose which breakout rooms they went to. It’s actually a very nice way to see what scrutineers are thinking about right now.
We had lots of fun before the meeting talking about tic doc memes (yes, yes we did). We found out which councils represent the ‘four lads’ and wondered how we might incorporate sea shanties into scrutiny. Also we pondered whether standing orders would cover councillors having cats on their laps ‘Blofeld style’ when we return to physical meetings.
There were also very helpful conversations about scrutiny stuff. Here are some of the useful points from the different break out rooms that participants shared in the chat:
Good practice exchange
- Budget simulator for public engagement!
- Get comms to ‘sell’ scrutiny
- Minutes styles changing due to recordings of meetings. Role of Cabinet Members, some Council’s have the Cabinet Member always introduce the report, with Officers only answering questions on technical points. Leader of the Council’s attendance at Scrutiny meetings was discussed. At one Council they attendded all the meetings.
- Public engagement in scrutiny is varied across the country.
- Some areas are good at sharing best practice through regional networks
- Work out what comms policy is for supporting committee chairs as well as cabinet members
- Hybrid meetings will be tricky – in some remote meetings, councillors are not using video or are only using video when they wish to speak. Different to physical meetings as probably shorter.
- Public-i have a video of how hybrid meetings can work in practice.
- I was interested in the different formats people are using to run meetings: some both camera on and mic, others audio only and the fact that access to recordings was so different with some deleting the content quite quickly
- Interesting to hear about whether councils keep the recordings of meetings on YouTube.
- Many are in favour of remote meetings continuing because speakers and cllrs are more relaxed in their own homes
- Remote meetings are the future and should carry on after the pandemic.
- Calling meetings “evidence gathering sessions” to keep monitoring officers happy when relaxing formalities to promote engagement by public
- Everyone does it differently. Lack of guidance for authorities on how to involve with residents and scrutiny.
- Importance of making meetings more accessible to members of the public, especially for young people.
- Interesting that other councils use their comms teams to promote meetings.
- Ongoing email engagement with community groups and read out their statements at scrutiny meetings.
- Very little public engagement or social media for scrutiny or other meetings. Only one involved comms in their meetings out of 9 councils. More guidance needed from central govt? Obviously more engagement if a contentious issue.
Scrutiny during covid
- Some chairs have been much more understanding than others. Scrutiny has continued but with some adjustments. Should officer workloads be taken into account? Why are bin collections so emotive?!
- Some Members are not sympathetic to the pressures of officers during lockdown.
- Dentistry scrutiny approaches! how to ask good open ended questions! resources to help folks understand commissioning provider split
- Good Question to ask is, about challenges for Integrated Care Partnerships, to get them to open up.
- In terms of Health Scrutiny ought to look at dentistry services. Organisations involved are keen to engage. Something to consider doing at a JHOSC level potentially.