Overview and scrutiny - call in procedure
The Overview and Scrutiny commission and panels have the opportunity to scrutinise executive decisions that have been made but not implemented through the ‘call-in’ mechanism.
In line with the council’s constitution, decisions of the executive are published within 2 working days. There is then a further 5 working day period before the implementation of the decision in which members are able to call in the decision.
If the necessary number of members, either the Chairman and any 2 members of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission or any 5 members of the council, ask for a decision to be called in for scrutiny, the proper officer shall call a meeting of the Commission. Where possible, this will be after consultation with the Commission chairman, and held as soon as reasonably practical, within fifteen working days of the decision to call-in.
Whilst this process takes its course, the decision taking process is suspended. If no call in occurs, the decision is adopted. If, having considered the decision, the commission remains concerned about it, then it may refer it back to the decision making person or body for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns or, in exceptional circumstances, refer the matter to full council.
If referred back, the decision maker shall then reconsider the matter within a further 7 working days and amend the decision, or not, before adopting a final decision.
If however the commission decides not to refer the matter back, no further action is taken and the decision can take effect.
The call-in procedure does not apply where the decision being made by the executive is deemed to be urgent, such as where any delay caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the council’s or the public’s interests. This should be clearly stated in the record of the decision.
Because of the nature of the call-in procedure, it is generally recognised as a mechanism of last resort. Government guidance states that it would clearly be detrimental to efficient decision making if every individual decision of the executive were called in for overview and scrutiny as a matter of course.