This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year.
The Committee considered its work programme and also proposals for future overview and scrutiny meetings and the schedule of Task Groups.
The Chairman reminded Members that they had previously supported the concept of the Local Plan being considered by each of the four overview and scrutiny committees at the appropriate time.
Members agreed that the informal meeting of overview and scrutiny Chairmen/Vice-Chairmen and Opposition Spokespersons held on 5 January had been positive and useful, and it was suggested that future such meetings be held. The view was expressed that, although the action points set out in the report were a useful basis for further discussions on the efficiency of overview and scrutiny meetings, they did not represent a consensus of the views expressed at the meeting. It was suggested that further consideration on the way forward was needed, recognising that different approaches might be appropriate for the different committees. As such, any agreement would need to incorporate the flexibility to facilitate these different approaches, for example in relation to the number of agenda items considered at meetings.
Members noted that, at the informal meeting held on 5 January, it had been proposed that GP appointments and access to services should be the next Task Group. An assessment of this proposal was appended to the report and Members noted the reasons why the Director of Public Health considered that this review should be deferred at the present time. Whilst there was some support for the Director’s view, and that it would be timely to start a review on physical activity as scheduled, other Members considered that, given the importance of this issue to the people of Medway, it should be the topic of the next Task Group, even if this meant the review would take longer than usual.
The matter of which topic would be the next Task Group was put to the vote with two members of the Committee voting for physical activity and six voting for GP appointments and access to services.
Members also discussed the possibility of a review of town centres being conducted as a standing item within scheduled meetings of the Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was proposed that this be discussed at that committee’s next agenda planning meeting.
With regard to the Local Plan, Members discussed this being the subject of a single item agenda for meetings of each of the four overview and scrutiny committees.
a) agreed the Committee’s work programme at Appendix 1 of the report;
b) noted the work programmes of the other overview and scrutiny committees at Appendix 2 of the report;
c) agreed that there be further discussion between Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and Opposition Spokespersons on measures for future overview and scrutiny committee meetings;
d) noted the Director of Public Health’s advice in relation to undertaking a Task Group on GP appointments and access to services at the present time;
e) agreed the schedule for the remaining Task Groups as: 1. GP appointments and access to services; 2. physical activity; 3. town centres; and 4. support for carers (as a themed meeting); and
f) agreed that the Local Plan be considered by each of the overview and scrutiny committees at the appropriate time.