All local authorities are required to publish a Forward Plan of key decisions. These are decisions of a high financial value and/or with a significant effect on communities – and must be published at least 28 days before the decision is due to be taken. The Forward Plan provides openness and accountability in terms of the Council’s decision-making processes. Timely publication of key decisions in the Forward Plan helps to ensure that public, members and select committees have the opportunity to question, challenge and scrutinise these decisions.The Council has four select committees which carry out the scrutiny function, a key element of which is ‘previewing’ executive decisions.
Whilst the legal requirement is to publish key decisions in the Forward Plan at least 28 days in advance of the decision being taken, setting a target to publish 2 months in advance is to encourage greater transparency and openness and to support robust engagement and scrutiny.
We aim to publish 75% of key decisions published in the forward plan by 2022
March 2020 performance
The target for decision transparency is to achieve 75% of decisions having been in the Forward Plan for two months or more before being published, by March 2022. The figures from 2019/20 show that this target was exceeded in quarter three but has fallen below in the other three quarters, so the year has finished with an average of 70% decisions having been in the Forward Plan for two months or more.
There will always be the challenge of urgent decisions, which will have an impact on the overall figure.
Democratic Services will continue to support services to ensure that key decisions are listed in the Forward Plan for at least two months and it is hoped that support and training provided by the service will see the target of 75% being achieved consistently by the target date of March 2022.
Officer awareness to have ideally at least 2 months’ notice of a decision remains a priority for the service and democratic service officers will continue to encourage services to provide forward plan entries as early as possible, through service liaison, liaison with external organisations where their governance arrangements may have an impact (e.g. District/Borough Councils, NHS clinical commissioning groups) and political management training.