The Council and democracy Scrutiny

What is scrutiny?

Scrutiny is a process that ensures that decisions taken by the Council and its partners reflect the opinions, wishes and priorities of Manchester residents. Scrutiny is carried out by elected councillors who understand and promote the concerns of the local residents who elected them. It is a process that looks to connect decision makers to local residents and involve local residents directly wherever possible. 

The committees do not make decisions, but try to influence those who do by considering the major issues affecting the city and making recommendations about how services can be improved. 

All Scrutiny meetings are open to the public and broadcast live on the internet. The agenda and reports, which say what the meeting is considering, are on the website five clear working days before the meeting. If you come to a meeting and would like to speak about any of the matters under discussion please ask the Chair if this is possible. This is entirely a matter for the Chair of the meeting. The meetings are held in the Council Chamber in the Town Hall Extension.

What does it do?

Scrutiny acts as a 'critical friend' to decision makers, supporting them to ensure that their decisions are being carried out properly and sometimes recommending alternative or additional courses of action. Its roles include: 

  • advising the Council's Executive on decisions it is due to take
  • holding the Executive to account by reviewing its decisions before they are implemented (this is called the 'call-in process')
  • investigating and reviewing public services where councillors have concerns about the way services are being delivered
  • ensuring decisions are being implemented in a way which meets residents' different needs
  • commenting on the work of other public services, individually and in partnership.

Whose services does it look at?

Scrutiny committees are not restricted to looking at council services, in fact they can look at any issue that has an impact on the quality of life of Manchester residents. They also oversee the work of the Manchester Partnership, which brings together the Council, Greater Manchester Police, the NHS and other major service providers and voluntary organisations, to deliver a shared vision about how to make Manchester a better place to live and work.

Manchester has six Scrutiny committees:

The committees are made up of between ten and 20 councillors of different political parties representing wards across the city. Some of the committees include other local representatives as well, such as representatives of parents who are school governors. Committees meet ten times every year and meetings are open to the public.

The most recent annual reports of each committee will show how they work.

Committee membership, meeting dates and meeting papers

You may also be interested in the following links:

Centre for Public Scrutiny – – promoting the value of scrutiny and accountability in modern and effective government.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority carry out scrutiny at a Greater Manchester-level.

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