Overview and scrutiny
Scrutiny is a way for your councillors to check how decisions are made by your Mayor, Cabinet and the council. It allows your councillors to investigate and ask questions about how a service is performing for the community. It offers a real chance for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations on service improvements and ‘call in’ decisions before they are delivered.
If you want to know more about Scrutiny, please check the Overview and Scrutiny toolkit which shows scrutiny in action.
From a legal point of view, there is a duty for all English and Welsh councils to provide a scrutiny function under Local Government Act (2000) and Localism Act (2011) where there is an elected Executive Mayor and Cabinet Structure.
The reason why Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) carry’s out monthly checks on local issues at public Committee meetings is to:
- Examine in detail a particular local issue affecting the residents and Tower Hamlets community
- Check on behalf the residents that the service the community receives is meeting their needs and is performing well
- Allows for your councillor to raise issues, concerns and ask pre decision questions and power to ‘call in’ decisions
- Investigate decisions made by the Mayor, Cabinet and council are in the best interests of the residents
- Creates an independent group which can hold the Mayor, Cabinet and council responsible for their decision making.
In Tower Hamlets, the scrutiny function is made up of a committee structure known as the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OSC).
This committee has 10 Ward Councillors. The OSC is also able to set up more sub-committees which look at more specific issues e.g. local community safety, health, housing the environment, children and young people, along with the council spending decisions etc.
The OSC can recall the Mayor, Cabinet or senior officers at the council and or partner agencies to attend the committee meeting to explain particular decisions that they made; how well a local public service is doing for which they are responsible for. How much of the decision made reflect the council’s budget and policy structure.
The council is looking for residents to get involved with the scrutiny meetings. There are four ways you can get involved with scrutiny:
- You can attend one of the scrutiny committee public meetings (dates for the meetings and what issue is going to discussed can be seen on the calendar and work programme)
- You can give evidence to the scrutiny committees
- You can apply to join one of the scrutiny committees as a co-opted member (recruitment is through an open competitive process)
- You can suggest a topic for the scrutiny committee to check as part of their area of work.
Suggest an issue for Scrutiny to look into
Every month, the scrutiny committee meet for public meetings to examine services which the council and/or its partner organisations provide. They ask them questions on how decisions were made and check to see if we can make improvements.
If you want to suggest a topic for the scrutiny committee to investigate, please complete the online form. You can also download the Word version of the form and send it to us via
- email: Scrutiny2@towerhamlets.gov.uk or
- post: London Borough of Tower Hamlets Corporate Strategy and Communities Team
Strategy, Improvement and Transformation Division
Chief Executive’s Office
Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
To find out how we use your data please read our privacy notice.
Data controller and purpose
The information you provide will be used by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ Corporate Strategy and Policy Service, to process your suggestions for Overview and Scrutiny to review.
We have received your personal data from you and will use this for informing the scrutiny work programme.
We process your data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and if you have any concerns the council’s data protection officer can be contacted on DPO@towerhamlets.gov.uk.
Condition for processing personal data
It is necessary for us to process your personal data (name, address, contact details), under the GDPR with consent. A delay in you providing the information requested may result in a delay in providing appropriate services.
How long do we keep your information?
We will only hold your information for as long as is required by law and to provide you with the necessary services. This is likely to be for 12 months after the case is closed. For further details, you can view our retention schedule.
We may also anonymise some personal data you provide to us to ensure that you cannot be identified and use this for statistical analysis of data to allow the Council to effectively target and plan the provision of services.
The council has a duty to protect public funds and may use personal information and data-matching techniques to detect and prevent fraud, and ensure public money is targeted and spent in the most appropriate and cost-effective way. Information may be shared with internal services and external bodies like the Audit Commission, Department for Work and Pensions, other local authorities, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Police. This activity is carried out under social protection law.
We have a duty to improve the health of the population we serve. To help with this, we use data and information from a range of sources including hospitals to understand more about the nature and causes of disease and ill-health in the area. This data would normally be anonymised and never used to make decisions on a specific individual or family.
You can find out more about your rights on our data protection page and this includes details of your rights about automated decisions, such as the ranking of housing applications, and how to complain to the Information Commissioner.