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Scrutiny - public services under the microscope


The role of Scrutiny in a modern Council

Under the proposals brought in to modernise the way local government works, Hertfordshire County Council decided to opt for a style of Cabinet Government.

This means that when all 77 County Councillors meet at a full Council Meeting their role is to set the strategic direction for Council Services, receive petitions from the public and reports from the various committees.

Working within this policy framework a Cabinet made up of 9 senior politicians from the ruling party form The Executive and takes the major policy and operational decisions.

The role of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is to hold The Executive to account by scrutinising:-

  • Decisions made by, or on behalf of the Council or Cabinet
  • Any operational or policy aspect of the Council's business

They are also able to scrutinise any issue which affects the County and its residents  which may be outside the Council's control.

Like the Full Council, meetings of scrutiny committees and their topic groups are open to members of the public.

There is also a Health Scrutiny Committee which is independent of the County Council, but is run by the County Council.

Having your say on the issues being scrutinised

Members of the public are able to attend any of the meetings of the scrutiny committees.   Although they have no right to speak at the meeting they may be able to do so with the agreement of the Chairman, for a maximum of five minutes.    Members of the public can also make their views known to their local county councillor or any member of a scrutiny committee.

Suggest items for future scrutiny work programmes

Members of the public may write to the Head of Scrutiny to request that a relevant subject or issue be investigated.

He can be contacted at

All suggestions will be considered by the chair and vice chairs of the appropriate committee and the relevant opposition spokesperson at the next agenda setting meeting.  The member of the public will then be informed by the Head of scrutiny of the outcome.