Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Danial Webb, Statutory Scrutiny Officer 

Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council Youtube Channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.



No apologies were received.


Named substitutes

To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the board.


There were no named substitutes.


Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the board in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To receive and agree the minutes from the 9 January and 17 January Scrutiny Management Board meetings


Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings from 9th and 17th January 2023 were agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chairperson.


Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 260 KB

To receive any written questions from members of the public.


Question (via email):

In December 2022 following online ‘Get Involved’ guidance I suggested a topic for scrutiny to the Governance Support Team. Where may I view the present status of this suggestion?


Peter McKay Leominster


*Background information - email From Mr McKay – Submitted to Democratic Services on 19 December 2022


Email title: Suggested topic for scrutiny


Dear Sirs May I suggest that the mechanism for addressing long standing anomalies, etc., in our highway and path records as a topic for scrutiny, such as those that Leominster Town Council has requested be addressed as part of the 2021-41 Place Shaping Local Plan, see




plus the Green Lanes shown as footpaths that come about due to use of the non-statutory term CRF, subject of question to Cabinet on 15 December, see Questions%20Thursday%2015-Dec-2022%2014.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=9


 the present expectation that they all be subject of a Definitive Map Modification Order Application raised by someone else being unrealistic, and conflicts with obligation to tidy up the records making them complete and correct ?


Rgds Peter McKay Leominster




Dear Mr McKay, Your suggested topic for scrutiny dated 19 December 2022 was noted and feedback is currently awaited from the relevant committees, which are now functioning again following the elections this year. Details regarding a status update, in relation to the suggestion, will be forwarded to you as soon as they become available.


Kind regards,


Democratic Services



Supplementary Question (via email):

Could you advise from which committees replies are awaited?




Peter McKay




Response to supplementary question:

Dear Mr McKay,


Your suggestion has been passed to the Chair of the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee. Your suggestion will be added as an item to the committee’s long list for consideration when it discusses and approves its work programme at its next meeting on 13 September 2023.


Kind Regards,


Democratic Services





Questions from members of the council

To receive any written questions from members of the council.


There were no questions received from members of the council.


Financial Strategy Work Programme pdf icon PDF 303 KB

Additional documents:


The chair invited the board to discuss the report detailing the Financial Strategy Work Programme and consider the recommendations contained within.


The board acknowledged that the new administration and changing economic landscape would necessitate a flexible response to existing and emerging plans.


The board recognised that the new administration had inherited a budget and a four year medium term financial strategy (MTFS) and that the board would expect the administration to add to and tweak those as necessary, along with other budgeting documents.


It was noted that the MTFS was a four year document and that at least three years of it would be relevant to the context in which the budget was going to be developed and set. It was a good document to look at early on in the board’s work programme as it took a longitudinal view extending out several years.


The board noted the table set out at paragraph 9 page 22 in the report and concluded that many of the items detailed were ongoing and should be brought back or adopted as part of any new work programme. It was also noted that the financial strategy report had taken on board some of the comments that were made during the previous board’s review of the budget.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer explained to members that work was continuing on from the previous committee, but as a new administration the new board was free to set up its own programme and disregard the existing one.


The board welcomed the structure of having set briefings in addition to formal meetings. It was also suggested that monthly briefings should be held and be open to all councillors. The importance of frontloading briefings ahead of relevant meetings was discussed and the board asked the Head of Strategic Funding (deputy S151) whether it would be necessary to shift any of the briefings to be able to scrutinise more effectively.


The Head of Strategic Finance (deputy S151) explained that the next two scheduled briefings would focus on the MTFS and treasury management. It would be possible to work together with the external advisors and the Statutory Scrutiny Officer to ensure relevant briefings were held in advance of items to be scrutinised, this would be particularly helpful in relation to the capital investment programme and the items on the December agenda.


It was confirmed that the treasury management training session for members on 31 July was still going ahead and would provide a general overview on the subject, this would then be followed by another meeting in September 2023, which could be tailored to suit any specific requirements of the scrutiny board.


The board asked if there was a timeframe in relation to Councillor Stoddart reviewing the capital investment programme.


The Head of Strategic Finance (deputy S151) suggested that a timeframe would be confirmed by Councillor Stoddart and that no action would be taken before a briefing had taken place regarding any changes and recommendations resulting from the review.


The board discussed timelines  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Scrutiny Annual Report 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 264 KB

To provide an account of the work of Herefordshire Council’s scrutiny function and its committees during the 2022/23 municipal year.


Additional documents:


The chair and Statutory Scrutiny Officer introduced the item and invited discussion on the report from the board.


The board recognised that it had not been possible to complete as effective a review of scrutiny as it would have wished and that purdah had been a significant contributing factor in this.


A discussion took place regarding whether closing down scrutiny during the purdah period had been overly solicitous, given that cabinet members had been able to continue with business as usual. The board felt it might be helpful to establish whether business as usual should include scrutiny, if cabinet members can continue with their work right up to the election.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer explained that his recruitment in early March, without a direct predecessor or knowledge of the improvement journey made through rethinking governance, had, along with the impact of purdah, ensured that this had been a narrative rather analytical report.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer and his line manager had taken the decision that it was more important for the board to account for itself in public than it was to get an effectiveness review right.


It was explained that the final report provided an account of what the Scrutiny Management Board and committee’s had been up to, not just in terms of the themes, but also the work that had been done through rethinking governance and in getting into the habit of accounting for this annually, which had not happened previously.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer asked the board if it felt the report had been commissioned too soon after the formation of the new committees and how it wanted to review its own effectiveness going forward.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer recommended that the board started its work in earnest in relation to how it wanted to measure its effectiveness and how this could be relayed to council on an annual basis, in an achievable and sustainable manner.


The chair suggested there might be a need for a workshop within the work programme to consider quantitative and qualitative views on how such an evaluation could be undertaken. It was noted that the performance of the connected communities scrutiny committee in the previous week (week commencing 17/07/23) delivered some very effective recommendations that were taken into account when it came to Cabinet making its decisions. The chair pointed to that as an effective piece of scrutiny work, which had helped shape how a decision was taken, although it was recognised that there was more to measuring effectiveness than just that.


The chair noted that the creation of new and additional committees had resulted in increased workload not just for councillors, but also in terms of staffing and supporting those committees.


There was a need to ensure that resourcing made available for the scrutiny functions was sufficient to deliver effective scrutiny and to enable the committees to operate how they wanted to.


It was noted that over the last year there had been very few task and finish groups and no  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Work programme

To consider the work programming for the board.


The chair of the board introduced the work programme item and stressed that it would be a live and fluid document that could and would be shaped to meet the changing demands and requirements of the board.


The board suggested that resourcing issues may be adversely impacting the ability of officers to communicate with and respond to the public and wards (answering phone calls and such like) and that the board might want to investigate this.


The board discussed the previous committee’s work programme. It was agreed that the board’s remit had not changed and that rather than reinventing the wheel it would be wise to retain certain existing items, especially those of an ongoing nature.


The board discussed best value principles and seven themes of best value: continuous improvement, leadership, governance, culture, use of resources, service delivery of partnerships and community engagement.


The board discussed cross-cutting themes that were felt to run through everything done by the Council:


It was asked to what extent was the board confident that the council was taking into consideration and stewarding the county’s resources to meet the needs of the younger and future generations.


The climate ecology emergency was identified as a cross-cutting theme and it was felt that it would be useful to look at the extent to which the climate and ecology emergency was built into everything the council was doing. Examining how the council’s partners and shareholders were embracing and implementing climate and ecology measures was something the board should potentially be scrutinising.


It was suggested the best value principles and identified cross-cutting themes could be combined and applied to create a framework of enquiry, which could help shape committee work programmes and also be applied to council activities.


The board raised concerns about the Wye Catchment Nutrient Management Board and how effective it had been over the last five years. It was felt that the Scrutiny Management Board should look at the performance of the Nutrient Management Board, Cabinet Phosphate Commission and Marches Forward Partnership. It would be necessary to question and establish where these bodies sat within scrutiny responsibility and whether there would need to be a multi-authority scrutiny dimension when looking at these bodies.


The board noted it would like to take a look at the County Plan as part of its work programme.


The board was keen to take a look at and have input on the approach to the budget consultation. It was also suggest that the board should open a wider scrutiny on general consultation and how the council engages with the public, with a view to ascertaining whether the council was maximising opportunities to include public feedback and input within the decision making process.


It was noted that risk management had historically been an area of overlap between scrutiny and audit and governance. Audit and Governance focused on process, but it was felt it was important that scrutiny was able to look at content and that this should be included on the work  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Date of the next meeting


Date of next meeting: 19 September 2023, 2-5pm


* Rescheduled to 7 November 2023 2-5pm