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About overview and scrutiny

Find out how overview and scrutiny works and why it is important

Why scrutiny is important

Scrutiny allows your councillors can hold the mayor and cabinet (also known as the executive), officers and external organisations to account for the decisions that they make.

Scrutiny makes a difference. It improves the quality of local policies and decisions. It acts as a critical friend to the Council's executive – and to other organisations providing public services in the borough – by making recommendations to improve local services.

What overview and scrutiny is

Overview and scrutiny is a way that the mayor and cabinet (otherwise known as the executive), officers and external organisations are held to account for the decisions that they make.

Working in a similar way to parliamentary select committees, overview and scrutiny is carried out by councillors who are not members of the executive.

They make recommendations for improvement to the executive and also to other local organisations.

What scrutiny does

Scrutiny is important because it allows democratically elected councillors to:

  • assess the performance and delivery of services from the perspective of service users

  • hold people to account for their decisions

  • influence policy formulation and implementation

  • investigate issues of local concern and make recommendations for improvement.

Scrutiny tries to address areas where:

  • the Council and its partners could improve

  • there is concern in the community

  • significant changes are being made.

Our scrutiny principles include:

  • providing a ‘critical friend’ challenge to the executive and external authorities providing public services

  • reflecting the voices and concerns of the people and communities

  • having an impact on the delivery of local public services.

What scrutiny can't do

The overview and scrutiny select committees cannot examine all aspects of service provision in depth. They also do not deal with:

  • individual queries, concerns, complaints

  • matters that are dealt with by our quasi-judicial committees, such as licensing and planning.

If you are not satisfied with the service you have received from the Council, you can use our complaints procedure.

Task and Finish Groups 

Lewisham’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee can establish time limited Task and Finish Groups (TFGs) to look at topical issues of importance or concern. Each group is established for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months and is made up of five councillors. If the matter under consideration relates to education, local statutory parent governor and diocesan representatives can also become members. The TFG collects evidence to help it clearly define what the problem is. It then collects evidence to help it come up with potential solutions and produces a final report with recommendations for action.

We want our Task and Finish Groups to be:

  • Focussed on residents – Ensure that the issue is clearly defined, and solutions suggested, on the basis of understanding residents’ needs.
  • Focussed on solutions – Take evidence from a wide range of sources and good practice to develop affordable, practical solutions that are evidence based and implementable and that will have a positive impact on the lives of residents.

How scrutiny operates

Each committee agrees an annual work programme outlining the issues it will look into over the following 12 month period. This diagram shows the different overview and scrutiny committees, click on each one for more information.

image of a scrutiny diagram

Link to Public Accounts Select Committee Link to Healthier Communities Select Committee Link to Sustainable Development Select Committee Link to Children and Young People Select Committee Link to Housing Select Committee Link to Safer and Strong Communities Select Committees Link to Business Panel Link to Educational Business Panel Link to Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Get involved

Scrutiny needs the help of local people and organisations to make sure the Council and its partners deliver good and effective services. Get involved in overview and scrutiny by:

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