National Scrutiny Guidance Seminar

Scrutiny Guidance Seminar


Highgate House 


On 28 January CfPS will be holding a seminar to discuss the Government’s new statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny.


The first general Government guidance on scrutiny since 2006, it will provide a vital opportunity for practitioners to reflect on current practice and to talk to their peers about how scrutiny will move into its third decade. While we don’t expect that the guidance will contain prescription for councils on the detail of how scrutiny should be done, its content should provoke debate and discussion within and between local authorities on how scrutiny continues to be sustainable in a complex, challenging local environment.


This seminar will be a vital opportunity for members and officers to discuss the guidance, what it means for them, and the action they propose to take as a result. It is a vital event for:


  • Monitoring Officers and other senior local government lawyers;
  • Democratic Services Managers and officers;
  • Directors of Corporate Resources, policy managers and others in the “corporate core” of the authority;
  • Councillors – including councillors on the executive, scrutiny chairs and other scrutiny members;
  • Representatives from organisations


The guidance also applies to combined authorities and committee system authorities that operate overview and scrutiny, so officers from those organisations should also attend alongside colleagues from councils operating executive arrangements.


The venue

Conveniently located in the middle of the country Highgate House is a beautiful 17th Century hotel with excellent conference and meeting facilities. Located just an hour from the M25 and 20 minutes off the M1 it is also a 20 minute taxi journey from Northampton Station. 


The course and costs

£145 + VAT 



Suki Binjal

Director of Law and Governance, London Borough of Hackney, and President of Lawyers in Local Government (LLG)

Suki Binjal is the current President of LLG with a long standing and impressive history with lawyers in local government.  She routinely speaks at events and training sessions and her focus is to champion the role of lawyers in the public sector and to promote positive engagement across the broad spectrums of local authority governance and leadership.

She is an experienced public sector solicitor providing legal and strategic advice to local authorities and other public bodies. She also has experience of developing systems of ethical and good governance and establishing alternative service delivery models.

She is a Consultant and the Director of Belvedere Legal Services, currently working with the London Borough of Hackney as the Interim Director of Legal and Governance.

Her previous roles have included a directorship with the Commission for Racial Equality. She was also a founder member of a Women’s Refuge and also chaired the Portsmouth Equalities forum, as well as holding various Non-Executive Director roles.

She is an external advisor on the policy committee with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Suki is passionate about excellent public services and motivated to achieve results by being transparent and inclusive. She champions values that enhance social responsibility and accountability to the public purse.


John Austin

ADSO Chair

Prior to his retirement in June 2016, John was Assistant Director, Corporate Governance at the London Borough of Enfield. He was also the Council’s Monitoring Officer between 2006 and 2014. 

John has been Chair of ADSO since its inception in 2009. He is also an advisor for the ADSO Certificate and a specialist advisor for the Diploma. John also facilitates a number of training courses both within and outside of ADSO. 


Councillor John Cotton

Chair of the Co-ordinating Scrutiny Committee, Birmingham City Council

John was first elected as a Labour member of Birmingham City Council in 1999 and has extensive experience of both scrutiny and executive roles in local government.  He has held three Cabinet portfolios, covering the areas of housing, social inclusion, adult social care and health.  He currently chairs Birmingham’s Co-ordinating Scrutiny Committee, which acts as the authority’s “watchdog” on matters of corporate governance and performance and has previously served as chair of Health scrutiny.  Over the course of a varied career outside of local government, he has worked in private industry, as assistant to a Labour MP, in the voluntary sector and as a freelance consultant. 


Piali Das Gupta

Head of Policy, The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE)

Prior to joining Solace in July 2017, Piali served as Assistant Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council.  She started her professional life in the UK as a senior adviser with the Local Government Association (LGA), leading on policy development and support to on a range of major issues including devolution, local government finance, economic growth, housing and planning.

She previously held senior posts with the Government of Canada, including playing a lead role in developing its flagship homelessness partnering strategy.


10:00 - 10:30 Registration and refreshemnts


10:30 - 11:10 Introduction - the key components

                      Ed Hammond, Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny


11:10 - 12:00 Scrutiny Guidance - panel discussion

                       John Austin, Chair, Association of Democratic Services Officers 

                       Piali Das Gupta, Head of Policy, SOLACE 

                       Suki Binjal, President, Lawyers in Local Government

                       Councillor John Cotton, Local Government Association 




12:00 - 12:30 Establishing a scrutiny culture

                       Discusssion in small groups


12:30 - 13:30 Lunch


13:30 - 13:45 Plenary feedback on establishing a scrutiny culture


13:45 - 14:15 Prioritisation and work programming

                       Discusssion in small groups


14:15 - 14:45 Access to information

                       Discusssion in small groups


14:45 - 15:15 Evidence gathering (including work at committees)

                       Discusssion in small groups


15:15 - 15:45 Resourcing

                       Discusssion in small groups


15:45 - 16:15 Plenary

                       Delegate questions from the day answered, key points, actions, areas for clarification





Highgate House, Grooms Lane, Creaton, Northampton NN6 8NN


Highgate House sits in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside in the village of Creaton. A beautiful 17th century hotel, it specialises in welcoming groups for events of all shapes and sizes.

With 26 acres of grounds, 97 bedrooms, some of the UK’s best conference and meeting facilities, and recently having been named a Wedding Industry Awards Finalist, it is a fantastic, flexible venue in a wonderfully peaceful location.


An Award-Winning Business Hotel

The hotel has 34 meeting rooms (with a maximum capacity of 280) and prides itself on understanding customers' needs, having won numerous awards for outstanding customer service, value for money, facilities, food and industry leadership.



Highgate House is renowned for its delicious food and attentive service. With several private dining rooms available and a menu that’s tailored to your wishes by our Head Chef Lee Gaskins (twice acclaimed Northamptonshire Chef of the Year), we guarantee you’ll have an unforgettable dining experience.


Map and directions

Highgate House directions