Chief executive update

Posted on 09/03/2023 by Megan Ingle.

We are moving towards financial year-end here at CfGS – a busy time, when we are also tying off a lot of our 2022/23 work for local authorities as well as agreeing the terms of our annual memorandum of understanding with the LGA. We’re very close to the start of the pre-election period too – May will be here before we know it.

For electoral services colleagues this year’s elections present a particular challenge – they will be the first with compulsory voter ID. Like recent elections, they also promise to yield a fairly high turnover of councillors. There are personal stories behind everyone who leaves elected office (voluntarily and involuntarily) – it’s a fraught time, too, for newcomers to the councillor life.

Elections also mean political change. Many councils are becoming more contestable, and it’s not impossible that we will see some big swings, like we saw in the London borough elections last year. The minds of senior officers will, rightly, be turning to changes in political control, and what they mean for priorities and ways of working. My colleague Helen Mitchell (our new Senior Governance Consultant) has recently blogged on this – including setting out some detail of what we can do to help councils to prepare. You can read the blog here.

For those not on the campaign trail, or throwing ourselves into the issuing of postal votes, we have a few webinars coming up towards the end of this month that might interest. Which will be detailed below:

24 March, 1pm – Roundtable event to explore the changes to Inspecting Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) and how Scrutiny can meaningfully add value to the process. We will be hearing from Ofsted as well as examples of local authorities who have navigated the inspection process. Book your free place here.

27 March, 10.30am- Launch event for our Cyber Security Scrutiny Guide in collaboration with the LGA. You’ll get an overview and panel discussion breaking down how you can benefit from using our guide. Book your free place here.

29 March, 4:00pm- Launch of CfGS new suite of products to prepare for a range of change possibilities, following the upcoming local elections. Whether the need is training for officers (senior and operational) who have no or little experience of control change, working in no overall control environments or environments with coalitions, CfGS can tailor support to each council.  The need could also take the form of a short, sharp review of existing governance arrangements to provide interim assurance to the incoming administration. The process is purposefully designed to be focussed, collaborative and above all, build trust between Members and Officers. The session will provide an opportunity for colleagues to share queries, concerns and opportunities associated with a change of control. Register your interest here for this free event.

You will also, if you have a little time, want to fill out our annual survey of overview and scrutiny in local government. The annual survey closes at the end of the month, when we hope to issue some preliminary findings – you can find it here. You have about three weeks to provide your response, which will take about five minutes. Do it before you forget! The link for the survey can be found here.

A little further away, on 14 June, we will be holding our annual conference. Interest in the conference has been strong this year – we are capped at a maximum of 120 attendees and I would recommend strongly booking as soon as possible to guarantee your place. You can find the agenda and booking information here. Tickets are available for the conference through this link.

On the guidance and publications front you may have missed a few weeks back when we produced this guide to the operation of scrutiny arrangements in committee system authorities. You can read this here.

Finally, a look ahead to a couple of weeks’ time, when we will be publishing a short suite of guides on local authority governance. We have a detailed guide on the review of council constitutions, a shorter guide on schemes of officer and member delegation, and something which we hope will be fairly definitive on call-in – produced with the kind assistance of Philip McCourt (who many of you will know as the editor/author of Knowles) and with the further support of ADSO and Lawyers in Local Government. A little later – in the early summer – we will be producing something on the operation of full council meetings.

As ever, we remain here to provide assistance on all matters relating to governance and scrutiny. If there’s anything you think we can help with, feel free to contact me directly at