FEEDBACK FROM WORKSHOP
- Meeting of Conwy and Denbighshire Public Services Board Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Friday, 11 February 2022 11.00 am (Item 7.)
To receive a verbal report on the conclusions reached at the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee workshop held prior to the meeting.
Introducing the item, the Chair advised that Committee members and support officers had held a workshop immediately prior to Committee meeting. The objective of the workshop was to give members an opportunity to review the recommendations contained in Audit Wales’ discussion paper ‘Review of Public Services Boards in Wales (October 2019)’ which specifically related to PSB scrutiny, these being:
(a) with a view to improving scrutiny of the PSB to use the six themes to help make scrutiny ‘Fit for the Future’ to measure the Committee’s performance to date, and also identify areas which required strengthening going forward; and
(b) going forward how to secure adequate engagement with a wider range of relevant stakeholders who could help hold the PSB to account.
Scrutiny Co-ordinator, Rhian Evans, summarised the various aspects of the Committee’s role covered during the workshop, the six themes to make scrutiny fit for the future. These being, that the Committee:
· knew its role
· was familiar with the powers vested in it, what it could do and what it could not do
· understood what it was attempting to achieve
· planned its work to achieve its aims
· was aware of the support arrangements available to it and the tools and mechanisms it could utilise to achieve its aims; and
· regularly evaluated its effectiveness with a view identifying any gaps in knowledge and areas for strengthening as it strived continually to face future challenges
During the course of the workshop it became apparent that the Joint Committee was familiar with its role, as well as the extent of its powers to scrutinise the PSB and hold it to account. Since its inception the JOSC had been keen to understand the role of each statutory PSB partner on the PSB and what each of those partners felt they gained from being a member of the PSB. Therefore, the JOSC from the outset agreed to have a standing item on its business agenda on ‘Contribution of PSB partners to the work of the PSB and the benefits of the PSB to partners’, inviting each statutory partner in turn to give a presentation on this theme. Whilst this programme had commenced and seemed to be an effective way of gaining an understanding of the PSB’s working and its benefits for residents and partners, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and partner organisations’ resources had to be channelled to responding to the pandemic. Nonetheless, as the PSB was such a high-level strategic type forum, JOSC members were of the view that it would be worthwhile for the new Joint Committee post the local authority elections to resume this exercise once ‘business as usual’ was resumed. The current practice of circulating PSB meeting agendas to JOSC members for information should continue as should the practice of encouraging JOSC members to attend PSB meetings to observe the proceedings.
It was clear that in future local authorities and other public sector bodies would be expected to have greater regard to regional developments and would be expected to work together on a regional basis i.e. via Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs). It would therefore be key for the JOSC and others to understand how to work effectively on a local, sub-regional and regional basis. The JOSC therefore would have a role in securing synergies between the work of the PSB and the various bodies such as the CJCs, North Wales Regional Partnership Board (NWRPB), North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) etc.
Going forward it would be crucial for the JOSC to ensure that its recommendations were meaningful and deliverable. To achieve this, it would need to devise an appropriate and informed forward work programme. A number of tools could be used to achieve this, for example various PSB plans and strategies as well as external data such as the latest Census data which would become available during the next municipal term.
Moving forward members indicated that it would be useful to:
· hold a workshop event periodically for the purpose of evaluating the Joint Committee’s work and its effectiveness
· to continue to hold pre-meeting briefing sessions between the Chair and Vice-Chair and scrutiny support officers for the purpose of discussing the formalities for the meeting. Invitations should also be sent to the pre-meeting briefing session to JOSC members who could attend if they wished, it would be a matter of personal preference if they wished to attend.
· co-opt representatives from the PSB’s ‘invited participants list’ on to the Joint Committee for discussion on specific items or areas of work, as their input into those items may assist members to assess the effectiveness of the PSB’s plans and help it to hold the Board to account;
· develop closer links with the city, town and community councils in the area, along with other stakeholders and individuals who had engaged with the development of the Well-being Assessment, and in due course the Well-being Plan, as a method to help evaluate the impact of the Assessment and Plan and to gauge whether the PSB was delivering against their expectations
· request that a regular business item be listed on future PSB business meeting agendas on the presentation of JOSC meeting minutes to the Board. The Chair or Vice-Chair of the JOSC should be invited to attend PSB meetings to present the minutes. If the need arose this business item could also facilitate the presentation of any JOSC recommendations to the PSB for consideration. It would also make the JOSC more visible to the PSB and help build clear communication channels between both bodies. It also had the potential to help build a constructive and effective working relationship between the PSB and the JOSC, and vice-versa.
The Joint Committee:
Resolved: to agree the actions listed above and that the Chair/Vice-Chair report the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s proposed actions to address Audit Wales’ recommendations to the Public Services Board at its next available meeting.