Browse meetings

Scrutiny and Overview Committee

This page lists the meetings for Scrutiny and Overview Committee.


Information about Scrutiny and Overview Committee

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee consists of 14 non-executive Members. This means that none of them is a Cabinet member. In 2023-24, the Committee is made up of 11 Liberal Democrats and three Conservatives, which reflects representation on the Council as a whole. The Committee is chaired by a member of the Opposition Conservative Group. It has a statutory remit to hold the Executive (Cabinet) to account and make sure that the Council and its partner organisations deliver the best possible services to the residents of South Cambridgeshire and that all decisions made have a positive outcome.

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee maintains its own work programme. The basis of this is pre-decision scrutiny and is determined by the Committee Chair and Vice-Chair selecting issues from the Cabinet Forward Plan so that the Committee can review them before they go to Cabinet, adding comments and making recommendations with the aim of adding value and improving the quality of decision-making where possible.

Members may decide that additional scrutiny is required of a particular service area. This could include for example setting up a task and finish group or suggesting topics that aren’t on the Cabinet Forward Plan.

The Centre for Governance and Scrutiny has developed ‘four principles of good scrutiny’. These are to:

·       provide constructive ‘critical friend’ challenge

·       amplify the voices and concerns of residents

·       be led by independently minded people who take responsibility for their role

·       drive improvement in public services

For more information, please visit the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (external website).

Legislative background

Local Government Overview and Scrutiny was established by the Local Government Act 2000.

This Act created an ‘Executive’ which at South Cambridgeshire District Council consists of a Leader and Cabinet. To provide a check and balance to this power, the same Act required Councils to establish at least one Overview and Scrutiny committee.


One of Scrutiny’s most powerful tools is the ability to ‘call in’ any decision made by the Cabinet or a Lead Cabinet Member or key decision made by an officer. At SCDC a decision is key if it involves the Council spending or saving over £200,000 or if it significantly affects two or more wards. Pre-decision scrutiny has dramatically reduced the incidence of call-in but, nevertheless, Executive decisions cannot be implemented until after the expiry of the call-in period (five clear working days).

Once called in, the Committee will review the Cabinet’s decision and do one of the following:

·       Refer it back to the decision making person or body for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns and any alternative recommendations. This will normally be considered at the decision making body’s next schedule meeting; or


·       If it considers that the decision is outside the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework, refer the matter to the Council after seeking the advice of the Monitoring Officer and/or Chief Financial Officer; or 

·       Decide to take no further action, in which case the original executive decision will be effective immediately. 

Task and Finish Groups

Task and Finish Groups are time- limited, cross-party groups which are established to examine a particular topic in more detail. They meet in private but then report back to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee which can make recommendations to Cabinet.

On 5 October 2023 Full Council adopted recommendations from Cabinet based on an investigation by the Young People Task and Finish Group (agenda item 8(b)).

Further information

·       Agendas and Minutes

·       Scrutiny Procedure Rules (SCDC Constitution)

·       Annual Scrutiny Report to Full Council – May 2023