Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Tuesday 19th May 7.30pm


Scrutiny Overview Committee

Agenda items for this committee included papers and a presentation from the Audit Commission on the new Comprehensive Area Assessments, and scrutiny of the Council’s preparation for major incidents.

 Howard Simmons of the Audit Commission talked about how the new form of assessment for councils would operate in practice. The new Comprehensive Area Assessment would focus on partnership working and include assessments of the Police, the Sutton & Merton PCT and our voluntary sector partners. The new assessment aimed to combine the assessments these organisations were currently subject to under one overall review.

As members were aware that there was a disparity between previous assessments of our partners & the council’s own high rating there was concern that the council would be impacted by partner performance over which it had no control. Mr Simmons offered reassurance that the review would be assessing the partnership working as much as outcomes.

Opposition members tried to imply that the council had not applied its scrutiny process to all relevant decisions and asked if this would be considered by the assessors. Mr Simmons stated that the scrutiny process would continue to be reviewed and any such weaknesses would be noted if they arose.

I wondered how the joint assessors would work together as I was aware that there were very different approaches and criteria between them. The response was that the review would be based on proportionate risk. I am aware of this sort of approach from my own auditing days however it will be interesting to see it applied to the less tangible performance measures expected from social services and health. The committee also learnt that new posts would be created across the assessors and regular meetings between organisations held. I must admit that there was insufficient detail in the reply to fully reassure me that the approach would be fully co-ordinated & the problems of the different philosophies of approach would be overcome.

Stephen Evans Director of Commissioning for the Sutton & Merton PCT, Andy Wilson Chief Executive of the Sutton Centre for the Voluntary Sector and Superintendent Bailey representing the Safer Sutton Partnership all spoke about current partnership working with Sutton Council and took some questions on their respective areas.

The scrutiny of preparing for major incidents looked at lessons learned from the Council’s response to the heavy snowfall earlier in the year and aimed to use this information to see if adequate procedures and protocols were in place to deal with other potential major incidents affecting the borough.

The committee learnt about the Emergency Planning Team and how it operated in certain circumstances. Review of the functioning of the emergency planning team was automatically reviewed after any event requiring its activation.

Members were advised that planning had been carried out regarding the current swine flu pandemic.

Questions were raised around issues of the gritting and weather forecast as well as managing staffing levels during major incidents.


July 15, 2009 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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