RE: Scrutiny of LAAs: what can be done now?
Although in general I agree with John Healey's message to 'get stuck in' to scrutinising Local Area Agreements, the situation for two tier areas isn't actually that simple. Of course councils have been involving other agencies in taking part in scrutiny enquiries on a voluntary basis, and persuading them of the value of this; that's an important part of a constructive approach.
But, in the absence of the regulations, a genuine two-tier joint scrutiny committee can't be formed whose recommendations have legal weight. So the situation is not satisfactory and we will continue to press for the regulations as soon as possible. But we have not seen them in draft yet, so it will be a couple of months at best before they have been approved by Parliament. Given that, my post above tries to set out some less than satisfactory options for two tier areas which the current law allows. It's up to individual councils what action to take.
In reply to Michael, about co-option: if the county council uses co-option powers to involve district councillors, what is being created is not, as I understand it, a joint scrutiny committee. It remains a scrutiny committee of the county council. The Local Government Act 2003 made provision for councils to give voting rights to co-opted members (members doesn't mean councillors here, it could mean tenants reps, service users, whoever). To do this, the council needs to adopt a scheme for co-option. I think that would mean a meeting of the council must agree the scheme, but not that strictly speaking it has to become part of the council's constitution. So if the county council wanted to co-opt voting persons onto one or any of its scrutiny committees it needs to define such a scheme. This could allow for district councillors to become voting members of a county committee which scrutinised the LAA and used the new powers. Legally, it doesn't affect the district council constitutions at all. How the district councils influence/determine who would be co-opted by the county council committee(s) is a local matter. You would need to define an approach which had confidence locally.
It might be useful for councils which have used co-option to comment on this.