The West Midlands Regional Assembly has worked
closely with Advantage West Midlands and Government Office West
Midlands to develop an effective and balanced scrutiny process.
This is set out in the Strategic Review Protocol that was revised
in 2005 to provide a framework for how the Assembly fulfils its
statutory role. This identifies two areas of activity, scrutiny
of Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency and
wider strategic reviews throughout which the Assembly aims to
represent the views of the West Midlands.
The Assembly, through its scrutiny process,
aims to be a critical friend to Advantage West Midlands, informing
policy development and enhancing its strategic approach. The majority
of the Assembly scrutiny activity examines how Advantage West
Midlands is leading regeneration and economic development within
the region. This is primarily focused on the development and delivery
of the Regional Economic Strategy with detailed reviews of specific
areas of Advantage West Midlands activity such as Regeneration
Zones and, High Technology Corridors. In addition the Assembly
also reviews monitoring reports submitted to Government Office
West Midlands by Advantage West Midlands.
The Assembly also carries out one strategic
review each year to examine how regional bodies are working collectively
to address key issues for the region. Such thematic reviews are
carried out under the aegis of the Regional Concordat. Completed
reviews include Sustainable Development and Equalities and Diversity.
The Assembly plays a key role in strengthening
regional accountability both through its scrutiny of Advantage
West Midlands and its wider strategic review activity. The process
aims to promote open and transparent policies and decision-making
by provide a forum for partners to discuss issues and areas of
concern. In the case of scrutiny reviews these identify key question
areas for Advantage West Midlands to respond to in a formal hearing.
All evidence gathering sessions and formal hearings are held in
public and the Assembly has worked hard to engage partners at
a regional, sub regional and local level. This has led to over
130 participants in the recently completed Equalities and Diversity
Review and 80 in the current scrutiny review of Advantage West
Midlands support for Rural Renaissance.
The process has demonstrated that partners are
looking for opportunities to understand and contribute to decision
making at a regional level. There is clear view that regional
bodies should be held to account both from a funding and policy
development perspective. The Assembly has provided a route by
which partners feel that they can start to influence organisations
with complex and often opaque lines of accountability.