You can raise issues and get involved in local decision-making in a variety of ways, not just by voting in elections.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Scrutiny
- 2. Attend a meeting held in public
- 3. Speak at a Council or scrutiny committee meeting
- 4. Present a petition
- 5. Ask a public question (Public Notice Questions)
- 6. Co-option
- 7. Access committee meeting information on your mobile device
- 8. Speak to your local Councillor
- 9. Become a Councillor
- 10. View key decisions
Scrutiny is a way of holding public service providers in Lambeth to account and of improving public services in the area.
Working with residents and Council staff, scrutiny Councillors have the following duties:
- monitoring, questioning and investigating the performance of the Council's Cabinet, senior officers and council services;
- developing, reviewing and making recommendations for the improvement of policy and services;
- holding the Cabinet and officers to account in public; and,
- scrutinising other public service providers’ work and its impact on the local community.
Effective scrutiny increases accountability, ensures transparency of decision-making, contributes to service improvement and acts as a 'check and balance' on decision-makers.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Overview and Scrutiny Committee is the Council’s single overarching scrutiny committee. The committee is responsible for scrutinising the whole range of the Council’s functions and responsibilities, as well as other public service providers’ work and its impact on the local community. The committee holds the statutory responsibilities for health scrutiny and for crime and disorder scrutiny.
Throughout the year the Overview and Scrutiny Committee manages areas for in-depth scrutiny investigation and review. For each of these topics an individual 'commission' with between three and five non-Cabinet Councillors is set up.
Commissions are a very useful part of the scrutiny process allowing for in-depth investigation of a particular issue and allowing improvements to be identified and, ultimately, real changes to be made in the way that services are run.
How a commission works
A commission will start by identifying its terms of reference and planning a programme of meetings, and will seek to hear from as wide a range of people as possible. This will often include representatives of interest groups, voluntary organisations, other Councils, experts in the field and, most importantly, service users.
When the commission feels that they have gathered sufficient evidence they will put together a report of their findings and make recommendations for improvements in the area they have investigated.
This report will be considered by the Cabinet together with an action plan prepared by the relevant department detailing how recommendations of the commission will be implemented. The relevant scrutiny committee will then monitor the implementation of the agreed recommendations.
If there is an issue, policy, or service area which you believe needs reviewing in this way, please bring this to the attention of the Scrutiny Team at:
2. Attend a meeting held in public
Check our online calendar of meetings to find out when meetings are. You can attend any of the council's public meetings, including Overview and Scrutiny committee meetings.
For further information call Democratic Services on 020 7926 2170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ensure that our meetings remain a safe and accessible place for those in attendance, there are a number of measure that are in place. Please take note of them before and during your attendance at one of our meetings that are held in public:
- Visitors are admitted on condition that they will allow themselves and their belongings to be searched. You will be asked to sign in and also may be asked to show proof of identity; and,
- Personal defence equipment is not permitted and UK law prohibits the carrying of certain self-defence items which are lawful in other countries. Any visitor found in possession of such items – e.g. flick knives, butterfly knives and personal defence sprays – is liable to be arrested.
In addition, the following items are not permitted at any of our meetings which are held in public:
- Sharp items e.g. knives (including Swiss army knives) scissors, cutlery and screwdrivers;
- Paint spray or similar items;
- Padlocks, chains and climbing gear;
- Items that make a noise (e.g. whistles, loud hailers, mega phones); and,
- Banners, placards and flags or similar items.
Please restrict the size of bags brought to meetings as there are no facilities for storage of bags or other personal items – all bags will be searched upon entry. You may also be subject to secondary searches once inside the meeting.
Please also note that there are limited numbers of hard copies of agendas and papers at public meetings, so it is advisable for attendees to access these electronically or to contact Democratic Services in advance.
3. Speak at a Council or scrutiny committee meeting
If you want to raise an issue in person at a scrutiny committee or Council meeting and you can find 19 other people who support you in this, you can arrange to attend and speak. This is called a deputation.
To arrange your attendance at a Council or scrutiny meeting please write to us at:
P.O. Box 734
Your request should include the following:
- what you want to raise with the Council;
- names, addresses and signatures of persons supporting the deputation - they should be living, studying or working in Lambeth; and,
- contact details for the person leading the deputation.
We should receive your request two clear working days before the meeting. For example where the meeting is to be held on a Wednesday, we should have received your request by close of business on the Friday the week before.
Once we have received your request we will contact you about the detailed arrangements.
4. Present a petition
You can present petitions to a Full Council meeting, a Councillor, the Chief Executive, or the Mayor.
You can set up a petition online - see our petitions page.
5. Ask a public question (Public Notice Questions)
Any resident, Councillor, business rate payer or local government elector of Lambeth Council can ask a 'public question' (also known as a Public Notice Question or PNQ) to make an enquiry or raise an issue.
These questions can be about any Council service. If there is an issue you think is important or something you think the Council is doing wrong, you may want to bring it to the attention of the Council through a public question.
Public questions will generally be considered by an officer or a Council Committee.
The process for submitting questions is the same in all cases.
You will receive a written answer to your question. You can then attend the committee meeting to speak to the Councillors directly about it.
Your question may lead to an investigation or review of the issue you raise, and could be very important for other residents affected by the same issue.
You can ask a public question using a method that suits you:
- ask your question online;
- dictate your question to our Democratic Services team by calling: 020 7926 2170; or,
- email your question to: Democracy@lambeth.gov.uk.
Questioners are welcome to attend the meeting at which their question is considered.
For full guidance on asking a public question, please download the public question guidance
The Council's Constitution allows Overview and Scrutiny Committee to appoint up to three people as non-voting co-optees. Co-optees may also be appointed to commissions. If you would like to be considered as a co-optee for a particular commission, please contact the Scrutiny team on:
020 7926 2170
7. Access committee meeting information on your mobile device
8. Speak to your local Councillor
There are three Councillors for each ward in Lambeth. All ward Councillors hold regular surgeries where you can meet with them to raise issues of concern or ask for advice on Council services.
9. Become a Councillor
You may stand for election as a Councillor in the borough you live or work in. Elections for the Council are held every four years.
10. View key decisions
All key decisions (those which involve spending or saving above £500,000; significantly affect two or more wards; or which require an amendment to the Community Plan Outcomes Framework or the Budget and Policy Framework) due to take place within the next four months are listed in the Forward Plan. You can check the plan and contact the relevant officer to put across your views.