What can we usefully learn from Virtual scrutiny meetings so far? Scrutiny zoom notes #3

We had 30 people attending this scrutiny zoom meet up (thanks everyone) and the main activity was a Users Experience Fishbowl looking at early experiences of virtual scrutiny meetings. In the fishbowl we had four officers and one councillor from West Sussex, Redbridge, Devon and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils.

The main learning points from the participants were:

  • That it can be a positive experience
  • Importance of having a trial run
  • Some of the tactics and approaches being used to demonstrate the continued need for scrutiny during this time
  • How virtual meetings are improving culture in meetings
  • It’s like a cake and the outcome depends on getting the right ingredients for your authority 
  • The importance of championing Scrutiny at this time when we are likely to get pushback from officers 
  • Need to get the ingredients in the right order, quantity and quality to get the best virtual meeting cake.
  • Involvement of other SC members in Overview Board/ Committee 
  • The concept of member-led working groups contributing a new angle
  • Scrutiny is here to help and able to support the Covid19 response is a good way of getting support from officers
  • Preparation and reassurance for chairmen.  
  • Just do it. 
  • Trial runs, scripts, and protocols make for good meetings
  • Importance of scrutinising the Covid response, whilst balancing the pressure that those services are already under, and getting management buy-in to do so.
  • Very good to hear from those that have had virtual meetings and especially from Cllr Broadhead as chair of a virtual meeting, very interesting.
  • The need to have a good protocol for virtual meetings
  • Lots of helpful lessons learnt and practical points to support virtual meetings. E.g. trial runs, having clear roles on the day, member training and more!
  • Organisational culture remains key – find a way for scrutiny to assist more than challenge
  • The idea that Scrutiny can help by capturing real time thought and reflection – video diary testimony perhaps – on the response to Covid.  Museums are asking for diaries and memories – perhaps Scrutiny can help curate contributions so that relevant memories are not forgotten or lost.  
  • Identify the issues that resonate for departments and partners.
  • How many people live streamed / watched a meeting! Public interest is high
  • Combining Committees to streamline the process
  • Lots of tips on running the meeting effectively and specially to remind colleagues of how scrutiny can be a positive experience and a way to showcase the good work. And bring much needed transparency on the decisions being made.
  • Everyone is facing the same challenges throughout the UK & we need to keep promoting the importance of scrutiny.
  • New approaches being put in place and made to work quickly. Will be good to hold on to this openness to try new things and also evaluate what of old ways is worth going back to

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