County Council Creates Three Watchdog Committees

Refreshed arrangements to enable watchdog councillors who are not part of the Cabinet to monitor and challenge the way Oxfordshire County Council is delivering key services to the people of the county have been agreed.

A trio of committees will be at the heart of a brand-new set-up as part of the Cabinet’s pledge to be as open and transparent as possible. The county council provides a whole host of key services including highway maintenance, fire and rescue, trading standards, libraries, social care for adults and children, education, waste disposal, public health, the registration service (births, deaths and marriages) and many more

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is very important step for the council. It reflects a determination to be open to challenge and be transparent to the people we serve. Opposition councillors will chair the three committees and this will help ensure the robust challenge that any truly democratic set-up requires. The new structure means that more councillors than ever before will play a role in forming council policy.

“For any organisation to be successful it needs real scrutiny and honest oversight and we believe the new system we have set up will better cover the wide array of our services. I am sure that this increased level of scrutiny will help our already high performing services do even better as we look to the future. We want Oxfordshire to be an example of best practice in all aspects of the council’s work.”

The new committees will be as follows:

  • Place (highways, transport planning, waste disposal, fire and rescue, trading standards)
  • People (education, social care for adults and children)
  • Performance and Corporate Services.

The new system will replace the present two main scrutiny committees – the Education Committee and the Performance Scrutiny Committee.

It is not suggested that any changes be made to the existing arrangements for the two joint scrutiny committees; that is, the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The new set up was agreed at a meeting of Oxfordshire county councillors on 13 July when Council appointed nine councillors to each of the three Committees. This means 27 councillors will be involved in scrutiny committees rather than the previous 21.