What is Scrutiny?
The Centre for Public Scrutiny defines scrutiny as:
“…the activity by one elected or appointed organisation or office examining and monitoring all or part of the activity of a public sector body with the aim of improving the quality of public services.”
The Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities worked together to develop scrutiny, funded by a grant from the Welsh Government. Scrutiny can be a challenge in an organisation with no executive (separate decision making group) but we have involved external experts, the public and officers from other Park departments to give objectivity.
Two pilot reviews were carried out as part of the scrutiny project, you can view them and subsequent final reports here:
The final project report is also available. Please contact the officers below if you wish to view any of the appendices.
The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority will use scrutiny to carry out in-depth studies into areas of its work, involving members, officers, expert witnesses, other organisations and members of the public. These studies will be used to improve services, shape future policy and highlight the work of the Authority. It has approved a Scrutiny Policy as the framework for its future scrutiny work and a flow chart illustrates the process.
In doing this the Authority will use the four principles of scrutiny and apply them to its scrutiny work:
Each year the Authority has to publish its improvement objectives, which focus on different aspects of its work that it feels are particularly important. The Authority is audited on these by the Wales Audit Office who report on progress in an Annual Improvement Report. You can see the most recent report here
The Authority has decided to use scrutiny to look in detail at two of its improvement objectives each year. One will be a backward looking review at an objective from the previous year and the other will look at an objective from the current year. For the 2012-13 financial year the following two objectives were selected:
1) Minimise damage to the Park’s environment, which will be evidenced by:
- Delivery of key practical projects that mitigate negative impacts.
- The establishment of baseline data to inform state of the Park monitoring.(This will result in a more thorough and scientific understanding of the current state of the Park’s environment).
2) Communities are inspired by and recognise the benefits of where they live.
Starting in January of this year, we began the process of publishing a list of our improvement objectives on these pages and asking the public to ‘vote’ on which two they feel the Authority should scrutinise that year. The National Park Authority will take all views into account when making their final decision on the two topics.
The Authority will appoint a Scrutiny Panel for each scrutiny review which will include:
Up to six National Park Authority members (Who are the Members?)
The Panel will plan the review, see what information the Authority already has, and identify what further evidence they will need. They will usually set a number of key questions to which they will seek answers by gathering information in any or all of the following ways:
Research into existing reports, data and other information
The panel will then write a report and make recommendations to the Audit and Scrutiny Committee who will then present recommendations to the full Authority and an action plan will be drawn up. The Audit and Scrutiny Committee will monitor this action plan and all reports can be viewed via the Committees Calendar where all agendas are accessible. We will also publish these on these scrutiny pages on the website.
We will aim to keep these pages updated with progress on the current scrutiny reviews taking place with information about how you can get involved. This is likely to be in one of the following ways:
If you are asked to attend a scrutiny hearing we have prepared some guidelines to help you know what to expect.
We produce regular Newsletters on the latest news and developments of scrutiny within the Brecon Beacons National Park and the most recent issue, for December 2012, can be found here.