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
December 2019 performance
The last quarter’s figure of 81% has exceeded our target. It should be noted that those decisions that were not listed in the forward plan for the corporate target of 2 months (56 days) were still compliant with the statutory duty to provide 28 days’ notice of a decision.
There will still be instances where it will not always be possible to meet the 2-month deadline due to the impact of various internal and external factors however, officers within Democratic Services will continue their work to raise awareness throughout the County Council of this target.
The figures from 2018/19 show that this target was achieved in first quarter but has fallen just below in the following quarters, so the year has finished with an average of 72% 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.
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.