To agree the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme for 2022-23.
the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources introduced the report, noting that a light draft work programme was included at Appendix 1.
Referencing the previous meeting of 4 February 2022, he reminded Members that the Chair and Vice-Chair had agreed to meet with Officers to consider an item for the Work Programme centred around Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) and noted that this had taken place prior to the current meeting.
Before speaking on this further, the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources reminded Members that the Local Government Association was holding an LGR training session on 9th March and that any Member could sign up to attend.
Moving on to LGR and its relation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources provided Members with an overview of the expected transition arrangements, noting that South Lakeland District Council would remain responsible for all of its services right up until the vesting day of the new unitary council. He further explained that the shadow authorities would likely set up their own Overview and Scrutiny arrangements and that those shadow authorities would be responsible for the development of the new unitary council.
However, he informed Members that there was an opportunity for South Lakeland District Council members to input, and to ensure that the corporate knowledge built up over many years was not lost in the transition. He continued by noting to Members that any contribution from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee would need to be focused so as to offer a clear message to be taken forward as part of the transition.
He informed Members that following a discussion with the Chair/Vice-Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the initial proposal was to form a task and finish group and hold a short series of sessions, including a scoping session, to look at the distinctive aspects of South Lakeland District Council’s delivery of functions and influencing the policy development of the new unitary council. It would be desirable for these sessions to be held in the first quarter of the new municipal year, following which a report would be presented to the Committee. Progress would also be reported on throughout the 2022/23 municipal year.
He concluded by reminding Members that the LGR process was rapidly progressing, and that there might be a need to adjust timescales accordingly should things change.
Members welcomed the idea of a task and finish group, and reiterated the importance of ensuring that corporate knowledge, including aspirations, aims and good practice, was not lost. Members also acknowledged the need for a balanced approach given the depth of the topic and the timeframe available.
In responding to a request for clarification of the timescales, the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources informed Members that the sessions ideally would need to be held in April, May and June with a report on the findings to be presented during the July Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting.
Members also sought clarity on South Lakeland District Council’s operations following the May elections. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources responded by reiterating that the Council would continue to provide its services right up until the vesting day of the new unitary council. The shadow authority would be responsible for designing the new council, not the delivery of services.
Members also queried whether the current Overview and Scrutiny committee would be scrutinising the new unitary authority. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources responded noting that the new shadow authority would implement its own Overview and Scrutiny. He further noted that the role of South Lakeland District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee was to continue to provide scrutiny of South Lakeland District Council’s functions. The proposal to establish a task and finish group on LGR would look at how the Council may transfer its existing knowledge and experience into the new authority.
Members expressed an interest in including an item in the work programme on Health Services, including for example inviting an appropriate representative to attend the committee to update members on proposed health service changes. It was suggested that this would provide a channel for members to pass on comments from residents where previously they had not had opportunity to do so. Following discussion it was agreed that a representative from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust be invited to attend a future meeting.
(1) the draft Work Programme in Appendix 1 be approved and to include the establishment of a Task and Finish group to look at ensuring the retention of the Council’s corporate knowledge as part of the Local Government Reorganisation transition process; and
(2) a representative from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust be invited to attend a future Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting to address the Committee on proposed health service changes.