An assessment of the impact of majority political groups on overview and scrutiny in local government

Hopkins, Paul (2007) An assessment of the impact of majority political groups on overview and scrutiny in local government. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis is a comparative analysis across five Overview and Scrutiny systems within Local Authorities in the North of England. Its aim was to assess the impact and role of the majority political group on the overall system of Scrutiny. The research found that the role of the majority group was the single largest determining influence on the success of Overview and Scrutiny. From the five case study Authorities, it was clear that barring exceptional circumstances (that facilitated an open and amenable attitude towards an independent Scrutiny process) majority groups sought to channel the process and control Scrutiny as much as possible. Majority political groups appeared to be unwilling to allow the process to scrutinise their actions, for a multitude of different reasons. They also resented somewhat an independent process that could forward recommendations onto a policy agenda they felt they had a right to control. Therefore, they used their power as the major group to filter the process so that only outcomes they found acceptable came to be accepted as part of Council policy. In other cases, they sought to ensure that minimal outcomes emerged from the Scrutiny process. With a majority, they were under no obligation to consider its views anymore than they felt necessary and consequently it led to much dissatisfaction amongst members within the process, particularly those from opposition groups. At the crux of the issue appeared to be many experienced leading members who wished to retain as much control and power as possible. They appeared uneasy with allowing an independent process of any kind within the Authority, particularly one with the capacities and potential role that Scrutiny possesses. Devoid of a leadership perspective that understood and accepted the role of Scrutiny, it was only when a system was accustomed to a collaborative approach or was heavily populated with one particular perspective did the leading group appear willing to allow Scrutiny to remain completely independent. The process of Scrutiny unquestionably benefits when an opposition perspective is allowed to lead Scrutiny. The research demonstrated how a process that moved from majority group to opposition group control improved significantly in terms of independence and in terms of its outcomes. However, this practice appeared limited across Local Authorities, with the fear of majority groups greatly limiting the development of strong and independent Scrutiny processes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Local government, Political parties
Subjects: L200 Politics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2010 11:36
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 16:23

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