I am a firm believer of the positive role effective scrutiny of Council policies and services can. Scrutiny plays a key role in terms of developing policy, improving services for residents and holding elected politicians to account. Sadly some politicians use it to score political points which isn't very productive.
For many years in Reading councillors have led the scrutiny process and I am pleased that the Coalition Administration of Reading Borough Council is doing more to open up the Council to the public - the people the Council is there to serve for example making Council spending more transparent.
When I was Chair of Scrutiny (2008-10) on the Council I worked hard to increase public involvement in the scrutiny process by involving residents in detailed scrutiny reviews of dementia care and private rented housing.
As a Council the next step is to develop the scrutiny role of our own tenants to improve the Housing services all tenants receive and to put more power in the hands in the hands of tenants themselves. Co-regulation has been around as a concept for a couple of years now but remains relatively under-developed in Reading. The government has signalled that it wants to see a bigger role for The housing co-regulation model allows for tenants and housing providers to work together to challenge, raise performance and share best practice.
Effective tenant-led scrutiny will be at the Council's new approach. This will help the Council as a landlord to focus more on what matters to local tenants. I will be joining tenants, senior managers housing staff and councillors at a workshop next month to discuss how we are going develop and embed tenant scrutiny into the way we work in Reading. I think this is the right way to go.