RE: scrutiny of regional collaborations
Dave - I completely agree.
I wrote a policy briefing last year which looked, in part, at shared services arrangements and their scrutiny. Our detailed research in 2010 on England's Total Place programme also supported the view that scrutiny tends to be an afterthought when people are putting together complicated, cross-partnership service delivery arrangements.
I'm now working on a new policy briefing on "sub-regional scrutiny" which will attempt to explore some of these issues in more detail.
Part of the difficulty is the complexity (or perceived complexity) of setting up joint scrutiny arrangements. In England, it's normal practice in health, so we know it's possible. But often, for reasons of resources as much as anything else, it's not something that's taken forward.
However, I think that resourcing is actually going to drive more of this work in the future, as it becomes apparent that, with more decisions being made sub-regionally (or should I say supra-locally?) scrutiny is inevitably going to have to do more in this area *instead of* work that it transacts at the moment in a more "traditional" way.
The only successful and reasonably stable regional arrangement in England I can think of that's not health-related is the AGMA scrutiny pool (aside of course from the number of authorities who have shared scrutiny arrangements such as Maidstone / Tunbridge Wells).
Research and Information Manager, CfPS