Council and democracy
The remit of scrutiny committees is to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability in local government.
An executive councillor is responsible for taking key decisions about services.
To balance the Executive's powers, scrutiny committees are responsible for advising and reviewing decisions.
The hold the Executive to account to make sure the best decisions are taken for the council and local residents.
Scrutiny committees consist of non-executive councillors. Their composition reflects the political balance of the council.
Area committees meet every eight weeks to make decisions about local issues.
All meetings are open to the public and provide an opportunity to speak on local issues.
Typical issues discussed include planning applications, grants for community development, leisure and environmental improvement projects, and police priorities.
County councillors from the relevant wards are also invited to attend the meetings as members of the committee.
They take an active part in all discussions and add valuable input and feedback from the perspective of the county council, but they are unable to vote on formal decisions.
By law, some decisions and functions cannot be exercised by the Executive. These are usually referred to as regulatory decisions.
The council has allocated responsibility for regulatory decisions between the following committees and subcommittees.