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DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 26th July, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor S.J. Griffiths (Vice-Chairman); Councillors G.D.D. Carroll, Mrs. K.F. McCaffer, N. Moore, L.O. Rowlands, N.C. Thomas and E. Williams.

 

 

195     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors O. Griffiths andM.J.G. Morgan.

 

 

196     MINUTES – 

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th January, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

197     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

198     APPOINTMENT OF DEMOCRATIC SERVICES SUB-COMMITTEE: FAMILY ABSENCE FOR ELECTED MEMBERS (HDS) –

 

Part 2 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 (“the Measure”) introduced an entitlement to a period of family absence for Members of Local Authorities, during which a Member was entitled to be absent from Authority meetings.  The entitlement created by the Measure was subject to Members satisfying conditions prescribed by the Welsh Ministers in Regulations.

 

The Family Absence for Members of Local Authorities (Wales) Regulations 2013 (“the Regulations”), drawn up under the powers conferred by Part 2 of the Measure, came into force on 5th December, 2013.

 

There were five types of family absence to which a Member may be entitled under the Measure, subject to compliance with the Regulations:

 

(i)        Maternity Absence – for the mother of a child, granted up to a maximum of twenty six weeks;

 

(ii)       Newborn Absence – for a Member who is either the father of the child or who is married to, the civil partner or the partner of, the child's mother, but is not the child's father, for a period of up to two consecutive weeks (N.B. in each case, the Member must have or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child);

 

(iii)      Adopter’s Absence – for the adopter of a child, for a period of up to two consecutive weeks;

 

(iv)      New Adoption Absence – for the husband or wife, civil partner or partner of an adopter (and who has, or expects to have, the main responsibility [apart from the responsibility of the adopter] for the upbringing of the child), for a period of up to two consecutive weeks; and

 

(v)       Parental Absence – for a Member who becomes responsible for a child (and does not meet the conditions for Newborn Absence, Adopter’s Absence or New Adoption Absence), for a period of up to three months.

 

The Regulations prescribed the conditions that Members must satisfy to be entitled to a period of family absence, made provisions regarding the duration, start, cancellation and end of a period of family absence, and set out an administrative process for dealing with family absence.  Statutory Guidance on Family Absence (“the Guidance” was also issued under section 30 of the Measure), to which the Council was required to have regard.

 

The Council had granted delegated powers to the Head of Democratic Services to carry out duties as required under the Family Absence for Members of Local Authorities (Wales) Regulations 2013.

 

The role and function of the Chairman of the Council in these matters was as set out in Section 4.30 of the Council's Constitution.

 

A Member could complain in writing to the Head of Democratic Services regarding a refusal to grant family absence.  Any complaints received must be forwarded by the Head of Democratic Services to the Chairman of the Council.  There was a requirement on the Council to appoint a “Panel” (comprising three Members [which could not include the Chairman of the Council]) to hear and determine complaints from Members, the Panel’s determination being final.

 

A right existed for a Member to complain to the Panel against a decision of the Authority that the Member was not entitled to a family absence; and / or against a refusal by the Chairman of the Council to grant permission for the Member to continue to attend particular meetings or perform particular duties whilst on family absence.

 

The sub-committee of the Democratic Services Committee would fulfil the above role.  The Regulations required a membership of three, which in terms of political balance, meant a Sub Committee comprising two Conservative and one Labour Member.

 

RESOLVED  –

 

(1)       T H A T the Democratic Services Sub Committee, with the following membership and Terms of Reference be appointed:

  

Membership

 

Councillors Kathryn McCaffer, Neil Moore and Michael Morgan.

 

Terms of Reference

 

To hear and determine any complaints from Members regarding a refusal by the Head of Democratic Services to grant family absence under the Family Absence for Elected Members of Local Authorities (Wales) Regulations 2013.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee note the provisions of the Family Absence for Members of Local Authorities (Wales) Regulations 2013, and the statutory obligations imposed on the Council.

 

Reason for the Recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure the Council meets the requirements of the Family Absence for Members of Local Authorities (Wales) Regulations 2013.

 

 

199     ANNUAL REPORT OF THE HEAD OF DEMOCRATIC SERVICES (HDS) –

 

There was a requirement under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 ("the Measure") for the Council to appoint a Democratic Services Committee.  The Measure also required the Council to designate one of its officers to the statutory post of "Head of Democratic Services" and provide that officer with sufficient resources to discharge those statutory functions. 

 

The functions of the Head of Democratic Services were set out in the Measure and related particularly (but not exclusively) to the provision of advice and support to non-executive Members.  Jeff Wyatt, Operational Manger (Democratic Services) was the Council's designated Head of Democratic Services.  The Welsh Government Guidance associated with the Measure specifically provided for the Head of Democratic Services to perform other roles apart from the new statutory functions.  This recognised the fact that the creation of a new post would have been an unacceptable burden on the budget of most, if not all, Councils at a time of ongoing economic pressures.

 

The purpose of the report was to provide the Committee with an outline of the staff resources existing within Democratic Services and a summary of the wide range of duties undertaken, ongoing developments and plans for the future. 

 

The Democratic Services division as a whole comprised three distinct sections: 

  • Scrutiny and Committee Services
  • Freedom of Information / Records Management / Land Charges
  • Registration Service. 

As previously, the report, by its very nature and its linkage with the requirements of the Measure, covered the work undertaken by the Scrutiny and Committee Services section. 

 

Staff Structure

 

Taking into account the extremely difficult (and ongoing) economic pressures facing the Council generally and the need for the Division to continue to identify / deliver / contribute to further savings, the current structure was considered to be appropriate.

 

In addition to the Head of Democratic Services, the Democratic and Scrutiny Services section comprised a Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, two Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officers, one Scrutiny Support Officer, one Assistant Democratic Services Officer, two WP / Administrative Support officers and two Administrative Assistants.  The team dealt with a wide range of activities, which were summarised in the report.

 

The current structure resulted from a review in 2013 of the (limited) resources available within the section and, indeed, the Council as a whole.  That review took into account the departure in May 2013 of a former long-serving member of the team.  At the time, funding was also still in place for a separate administrative post (a post which had been held vacant for some time).  It was agreed that the funding attached to both of those posts could be utilised to create two new posts.  Whilst these were on a lower grade than the previous postholder, it was felt that the revised structure would provide the section with increased flexibility to deal with the demands placed upon the team (and this has proved to be the case).

 

In November 2016, a new member of staff joined the team as Scrutiny Support Officer (the previous postholder having been promoted within the team).  That officer has already become a valued member of the team.

 

The following was a summary of work undertaken in the last twelve months and ongoing work / initiatives in which the sectionwas actively engaged.  The Democratic Services Committee would continue to be kept fully informed on progress of these, and other, initiatives. 

 

Wales Audit Office: Scrutiny Improvement Study

 

Previous reports to the Committee had covered progress on delivering the Action Plan drawn up by officers in response to the above Study.  The Committee in February 2016 agreed that, whilst some components of the Action Plan, by their very nature, were ongoing, the Action Plan itself had been completed.  Subsequently, rather than duplicate reporting, it was agreed that the Annual Report would cover any matters emanating from the (completed) Action Plan.  Any such matters were covered elsewhere in the report.

 

An Annual Report on the work undertaken by all Scrutiny Committees was reported to all Scrutiny Committees and Full Council each year.

  

Protocol re Scrutiny and Cabinet Roles and Responsibilities

 

The Action Plan alluded to above included the drawing up of a Protocol designed to encompass a number of elements of the Wales Audit Office recommendations, including: 

  • the overall roles / responsibilities of Scrutiny and Cabinet Members (and, indeed, officers),
  • the general arrangements in place governing the Scrutiny process,
  • the need for correlation of internal (i.e. Council, Cabinet and Scrutiny) Work Programmes and correlation between those and external regulators' Work Programmes. 

The Protocol was available on the Council's website at

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/Documents/_Committee%20Reports/Scrutiny%20information/Protocols/Scrutiny-and-Cabinet-Roles-and-Responsibilities.pdf and on MemberNet.

 

New Performance Management Framework

 

In December 2015, Cabinet approved proposals for changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework (PMF) as the basis for consultation with Scrutiny Committees.  A subsequent report in February 2016 provided Cabinet with a summary of the views of the five Scrutiny Committees.  On Cabinet’s recommendation, a Working Group, comprising Group Leaders, Chairmen of Scrutiny Committees and senior corporate officers was established to develop and progress the arrangements to support the revised PMF.  That work included the development of performance monitoring reports to demonstrate progress towards achieving the Council's four Well-being Outcomes and corporate actions contained in the new Corporate Plan.

 

Wales Audit Office Corporate Assessment

 

In 2013-14, staff of the Wales Audit Office began a four-year cycle of corporate assessments of Local Authorities in Wales.  The purpose of the corporate assessment was to provide a position statement of the Council’s capacity and capability to deliver continuous improvement.  As part of the assessment, the Wales Audit Office had considered the Council’s track record of performance and outcomes as well as an examination of the key arrangements that were necessary to underpin improvements in services and functions.

 

Between the end of 2015 and the start of 2016, staff from the Wales Audit Office conducted their assessment of the Council and sought to answer the following question: “Is the Council capable of delivering its priorities and improved outcomes for citizens?”  The findings of the Wales Audit Office assessment were extremely positive.

 

Council Constitution

 

The Council Constitution remained under review and reports to Council were submitted when changes were deemed necessary.

 

Webcasting

 

Live webcasting of the Planning Committee and Full Council commenced in December 2014 and December 2016 respectively.

 

Public Speaking at Planning Committee and Scrutiny Committee

 

The arrangements for public speaking at meetings of the Council's Planning Committee had been in place since February 2015 and were working well, with public involvement at the vast majority of meetings.  The process provided an opportunity for increased public engagement in the planning application process.

 

As far as Scrutiny Committees were concerned, the arrangements for public speaking were introduced at the beginning of 2016.  Again, the process was designed to enhance / increase opportunities for public participation in the Council's democratic processes.  It was acknowledged that there was a need to increase the promotion of the process through publicity and officers from Democratic Services and the Communications Unit would continue to work on this aspect.  For example, relevant links on the Council's website had been made more prominent and the process highlighted to Members during Scrutiny development sessions.

 

During 2016/17, people who registered to speak were surveyed in order to enable the Council to ascertain public perception of / satisfaction levels with the public speaking arrangements and consider whether any refinements should be made.   Officers would be looking at this aspect and
would keep Members informed of developments.

 

As far as public engagement in the process generally was concerned, points raised by Members during the discussion included: 

  • looking into the possibility of social media (e.g.Twitter) being used to publicise meetings (especially if it was      considered elements of the business would potentially be higher than normal interest to the public)
  • whether the links to meetings and associated material on the Council’s website were easily accessible (it was agreed that the Communications Team would be asked to look at this)
  • an acknowledgement that the “window” for registering to speak at Committees was relatively brief (albeit this was due to the time being available between publication of agendas and actual meetings)
  • reference to the (separate) Planning Committee portal and its use. 

Member Development

 

A significant amount of work had been undertaken by the Democratic Services Team (supported by colleagues) in this area and a full report was included elsewhere on the agenda.

 

Member ICT Provision / Digital Strategy

 

As with Member Induction and Development, a full report highlighting the work undertaken (by officers from ICT and Democratic Services) was included elsewhere on the agenda.

 

Reshaping Services Agenda

 

An officer from the Section continued to be involved in project managing the Town and Community Council and Voluntary Sector project of the Reshaping Services Programme and acted as the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) Working Group co-ordinator.   Update reports on this project were reported to the Community Liaison Committee at each meeting and reports provided to the Voluntary Sector. 

Ongoing discussions continued with individual Councils as required and six Community Asset Transfer applications were currently at various stages of the process.

 

Task and Finish Review Work

 

In October 2016, the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee received an update report outlining progress that had been made around a Task and Finish Group review of the potential contribution Assistive Technology could provide in the development of a dementia-supported community in the Vale of Glamorgan to enable people to live independently.

 

The previous Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) had agreed an action plan which contained 15 priorities.  Following consideration of the update report, Members of the Committee were pleased that the progress made against each action indicated that the majority were either complete or had become part of ongoing business.

 

During February 2017, the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee received an update report outlining progress that had been made around the Traffic Management Task and Finish Review Implementation Plan.  The Committee was advised that all improvement actions contained within the Plan had been progressed through a variety of funding sources.  It was agreed that the majority of the actions would be duplicated within the adopted Local Transport Plan, and a further update report be submitted in February 2018.

 

With regard to Task and Finish work, the Council was in the process of agreeing a suite of measures to monitor progress against the new Corporate Plan wellbeing Outcomes, which would be considered by Cabinet shortly.  This work was being informed by the Member Working Group and Task and Finish discussions would commence thereafter.

 

School Performance Panels

 

In addition to the existing support for the Council's Scrutiny function, the Committee was asked to note, and acknowledge, the ongoing work in terms of School Performance Panels.  Staff within the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section continued to devote resources to arranging / facilitating, undertaking research and supporting Panel Members in these exercises. 

 

As previously reported, the broad purpose of the Panels was to enable the school identified to demonstrate through the democratic process its ambition, capacity and commitment to rapid and sustained progress and to identify any barriers being faced which could be resolved by the actions of the Council.

 

The Panels’ objectives were to establish that up-to-date and authoritative plans were in place to address any concerns identified, that the school had arrangements in place to monitor the impact of the plans and to amend them as appropriate and to establish what progress had been made and what further progress was required.

 

During the course of 2016/17, Panels had been initiated for two schools: 

  • Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School - 12th July, 2016 and 9th December, 2016
  • Fairfield Primary School - 22nd June, 2016. 

Subsequently, sufficient progress had been reported for Fairfield Primary School and, consequently, the school had been removed from Local Authority monitoring.

 

With regard to Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, following a Panel visit on 9th December, 2016, and following disappointing results in GCSE English, it was determined that insufficient progress had been made.  Consequently, results for August 2017 would be eagerly anticipated and a further follow-up visit may be arranged for the Autumn term

 

During the previous year, Barry Comprehensive School and St. Richard Gwyn R/C High School had been visited.  Following strong performance by both schools, during 2016/17, they were removed from Local Authority monitoring.

 

An important element to come out of the programme of Progress Panel visits was a “Lessons Learnt” exercise.  From this, the Council had been able to assess specific challenges facing the schools and had been able to identify and report on any innovative or good practices.  Findings from the first review were reported to the former Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) at its meeting held on 7th September, 2015, and a further update was provided to the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee on 3rd October, 2016.  Further updates would be scheduled when appropriate.

 

Shared Regulatory Service and Central South Consortium: Scrutiny Arrangements

 

As far as the Shared Regulatory Services was concerned, discussions had taken place with officers of the other two Constituent Local Authorities.  However, progress on considering, developing and / or agreeing joint scrutiny options had been limited and needed to be progressed.

 

Regarding the Central South Consortium, the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee would continue to hold the Consortium to account, with invitations being extended throughout the year for officer attendance at Committees.  The Managing Director of the Central South Consortium had also agreed to attend each Scrutiny Committee in the South East Wales Consortium on an annual basis, in January / February each year.  The Estyn report on the Consortium had also been reported to the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee and a representative from the Consortium was in attendance.

 

The Central South Consortium had established a pattern of regular group meetings with Chairs of Scrutiny Committees and the Democratic Services Officers in each of the Local Authorities in order to consider proposals to deepen the Consortium's relationship with the scrutiny function on a regional level to consider regional performance and share best practice and information.  The Managing Director was keen to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the scrutiny of aspects of the work of the Consortium, in addition to the engagement with the Scrutiny Committees in each of the Local Authorities.  A report was to be prepared in respect of the Working Group’s suggested approach to the Joint Board and to all five Scrutiny Committees in the Consortium.

 

The Year Ahead

 

2017/18 would again be a busy year.  The remainder of the current Member Development Programme would be delivered.  Towards the latter part of the calendar year, all Members would be afforded the opportunity of a Personal Development Review Interview (as provided for within the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011).  All Members would be encouraged to take up the opportunity and there would be an expectation of all Members in receipt of a Senior Salary to do so.  The outcome of this process would be fundamental in informing the ongoing Member Development Programme.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and the comprehensive amount of work alluded to be noted and recognised.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To keep Members informed.

 

 

200     MEMBER INDUCTION / MEMBER DEVELOPMENT 2017 (HDS) –

 

The previous Administration's Cabinet at its meeting on 18th January, 2017 approved the Induction Programme for newly-elected and returning Councillors following the local government elections in May, 2017 and further approved the designation of the "Mandatory Induction" elements of the Programme, together with the requirement on relevant Members as identified to attend.

 

The work of an elected Member was complicated and challenging and the political, legislative and local landscape in which they worked was changing constantly.  Local communities quite rightly had high expectations of their elected representatives from the day of their election and throughout their period of office.  It was essential, therefore, that elected Members were given every assistance in preparing to be able to quickly and successfully navigate the numerous different aspects of local government.  It was also important to stress the importance of the ongoing commitment of Members to participate in development opportunities beyond the current Programme as they bedded into their new roles internally and externally to the Council.

 

Member training and development was required by the Local Government Act 2000, Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011 and the Council's Member Development Strategy.  Both the initial Member Induction Programme and the ongoing Member Development Programme, in addition to their obvious importance for Members generally, were being, and would continue to be, delivered against the background of the following Well-being Goals within the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales): 

  • A prosperous Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
  • A globally responsible Wales. 

The Council as an organisation viewed its Induction Programme as an important development opportunity as it enabled newly-elected  Members to quickly become familiar with how the Council worked, the rules and procedures under which it operated and the complexities of the elected Member role.

 

Work on the development and delivery of the above commenced in June 2016, as part of Democratic Services' Service and Team Planning arrangements and consequently, two key actions were included in the Service and Team Plans to ensure that the necessary preparatory work was undertaken to deliver these objectives namely:

 

DS1 - Facilitate the Member Development Programme informed by the outcome of Member Personal Development Interviews and the related Training Needs Analysis.

 

Assist Operational Manager in drawing up Member Induction Programme for new / returning Members.

 

DS2 - Produce a Candidates’ Pack for distribution to all individuals standing for election to the Council in May 2017

 

Review / update as appropriate Candidates’ Pack issued for the May 2012 election.

 

"Before the Election"

 

It could be seen from the above that work began well ahead of the May 207 election.

 

Officers within the Democratic and Scrutiny Services team were tasked to support the Induction Programme, by updating and further developing the contents of the previous 2012 Local Government Candidates' Information Pack.  The updated pack included a timetable of meetings, information on core policies and procedures, details of dates and times of Member Induction and Development sessions (including those sessions identified as mandatory for all Members or members of specific committees to attend).  Mandatory sessions included Ethics and Standards, Equalities, Information Governance and Data Protection, Introduction to Finance, as well as sessions for Members of Planning, Licensing and Standards Committees.  The Pack was made available to all individuals who requested Nomination Papers ahead of the May 207 election (i.e. irrespective of whether an individual subsequently decided to stand for election).

 

Following the closing date for nominations in early April, all (159) candidates were then written to again and provided with further confirmation of the Council's commitment to Member Development.  As such, the full Member Induction Programme was provided, with "signposting" to the mandatory elements and the requirement for all, or specific, Members to attend such.  Details of the "Market Place" event were also provided and the 159 candidates were asked to book a place (to be taken up in the event they were elected) on one the four timeslots available over the two days of the event.   An excellent response rate was obtained (assisted by Democratic Services staff contacting any individuals who had not initially responded).

 

"The Member Induction and Development Programmes"

 

In addition to the above planned work streams, the Head of Democratic Services and the Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Service Officer had attended meetings of the WLGA All-Wales Member Services Officer Network to develop and agree an all- Wales Development Programme that could be utilised and broadly adapted to suit local circumstances in regard to induction and development opportunities.

 

Officers within the Democratic and Scrutiny Services team were then further tasked to deliver the following: 

  • Develop and oversee the delivery of the Council’s approved Member Induction Programme over the first few months of the new Council term, with the aim of providing Members with an opportunity to clearly establish their roles and responsibilities and to build positive working relationships with Officers from the outset.
  • Design, develop and oversee in consultation Council officers the ‘Market Place’ event, which incorporated a formal welcome / presentation by the Managing Director and also provided Members with the opportunity to find out more about the Council's services and meet officers as well as other new, and returning, Members.  Officer presence and contributions at the Market Place events came from Democratic Services, ICT, and Corporate Training.  These sessions also included the issuing of security passes and photo ID and the taking of Members' official photographs. 

Democratic Services Officers also oversaw and were involved in the "Recommended Induction" Programme, which included a series of ‘Introduction To…” training sessions which entailed Members of each Scrutiny Committee, as well as any other Committees, being provided with a briefing prior to its first meeting.

 

The overall Member Induction and Development Programmes incorporated 26 training topics (including two topics having been identified as relevant to Members since the initial Programme began in May 2017 – on "Rules of Debate" and "Treasury Management").  Around 50 sessions had, or would have, taken place by the end of October.  Out of the 45 sessions held or arranged to date, 14 (31%) had been daytime sessions (between 09.00 and 16.00) and 31 (69%) had been evening sessions (16.00 - 21.00).

 

12 of the 24 training topics had been labelled as mandatory.  To maximise attendance and being sympathetic to Members’ personal commitments, mop-up sessions had been arranged on a 1:1 or small group basis; this process was continuing.  Out of the 12 Mandatory topics, 9 (75%) had been completed with one currently taking place and two scheduled to take place in the near future.  The 12 mandatory topics had been delivered over 24 scheduled sessions, with a maximum expected attendance level of 347 places.

 

Final attendance figures were not currently available as three of the sessions were yet to take place.  Out of the nine sessions that had already taken place, attendance figures were very positive.  The largest amount of individuals still left to attend a mop-up session was 16 for the Equalities and Welsh Language session and the lowest being eight for the Information Governance and Data Protection topic.  Democratic Services officers were currently in the process of arranging the relevant mop-up sessions.

 

The bulk of the initial Programme would have been delivered by the time the August recess began.  Following the recess, there would be only six further topics to deliver, including the two topics added since the Programme began.

 

21 (88%) of the topics had been facilitated by Vale of Glamorgan Officers, with three (12%) being delivered by an external facilitator; from the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

 

Further statistical information could be found at Appendix A to the report.

 

The ongoing Programme would largely be delivered in-house and would comprise a mix of delivery methods, which would include access to e-learning (for example, utilising the All-Wales Academy training material, now hosted on the National Health Service portal).

 

Significant time and resources had also been invested by Democratic Services in reviewing and refining "MemberNet".  In terms of a development and training resource for Members, all induction programme material had been placed on this facility, with the intention of building up a suite of resources as a library for Members to continually refer to.  The "How To Guides", developed pre and post-induction Programme, were also available as a resource tool, including important links to websites (e.g. WLGA – Academy Wales Training resources.

 

"Council Provided Equipment - Member Support"

 

In the lead up to the Local Government Elections this year and previously following the transferring of Member Services to Democratic Services in 2013, an audit of devices issued to Members during the period 2012 to 2017 had been undertaken.  Devices were categorised as computers, printers, mobile phones and any other equipment procured and supplied to Members.  This process also included an audit of broadband service provided by the Council in Member properties.  In the period shortly before the above Elections, any Members in possession of any such equipment were required to return it, whether standing for re-election or not.  The return of equipment was also essential, given the agreed Member ICT Refresh Strategy and the roll-out of new equipment to new and returning Members on their election.  This process had been overseen by Democratic Services.  On return of equipment, Members were required to sign off an inventory of their equipment and were provided with a receipt.

 

"Innovation and Savings"

 

The Member ICT Refresh Strategy referred to earlier in the report took account of the potential added value of procuring devices that would provide Members with additional compatibility to annotate reports.  The ability to annotate reports also led to officers in both Democratic Services and ICT Teams developing a "Committee Hub" facility which now hosted Council agendas and reports for access by Members.

 

As Members became more confident in accessing Committee papers through the "Hub" it was anticipated that savings to the Council would result as a consequence of less physical agendas being produced and posted to Members and circulated to the officers ; this process was already underway.

 

In addition to any reports to the Democratic Services Committee and Cabinet as appropriate, the Council's (Officer) Insight Board would be kept updated.  A small Officer Working Group would be responsible for progressing the work.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Head of Democratic Services and officers from the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section be thanked for the comprehensive amount of work undertaken in relation to Member Induction and the ongoing Member Development programme and associated activities.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure Members were aware of how this Training / Development would assist them in their elected role and wider running of the Council.

 

 

201     ICT UPDATE FOR MEMBERS (MD) –

 

A report entitled “Review of ICT Systems for Elected Members” had been considered and approved by Cabinet on 9th January 2017.  The report set out the approach to be taken in terms of Member ICT for new and returning Members following the Council election in May 2017.

 

Following Cabinet approval, a project team resourced by ICT and Democratic Services officers was assembled to plan and deliver all of the required themes associated with the Members’ hardware refresh programme.  These themes were: 

  • ICT Hardware and Software (specification and procurement)
  • Training (content, materials and delivery)
  • Terms of Use (ICT Computer Code of Conduct and Data Protection)
  • Future Support (ongoing bespoke training and business as usual). 

The hardware and software was specified based on requirements gathered by the project team.  This equipment was trialled by two elected Members and a number of officers.  Based on the success of the trials and the feedback received the equipment was procured and built by ICT.

 

The equipment was delivered and training was provided to Members during the “Market Place” sessions held in the Civic Offices in May 2017.  This training covered the operation of the equipment and also the terms of its use in the context of Information Security, Data Protection and usage, i.e. to only be used for activities relating to Elected Members’ functions.

 

All ICT kit that had been used by elected Members before the elections in May 2017 had been collected.  Any out-dated / redundant kit had been securely wiped to ensure that no data remained and then scrapped as part of ICT’s scrapping / recycling procedure.  Any serviceable kit had been recycled for re-use within the organisation.  The ICT inventory database was updated to reflect the above.

 

To facilitate a reduction in the volume and cost of printing hard-copy Committee agendas, minutes, reports, etc., going forward, ICT and Democratic Services officers had jointly developed the Members’ “Committee Hub”.  This was essentially a secure electronic repository where Members could find agendas, minutes, reports, etc., specifically related to the Committees within their respective portfolios.

 

Members could access the “Committee Hub” securely from any location that had a Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal on their tablet PCs, mitigating the need for hard-copy documents in the future.  Members could also annotate electronic documents by writing on the tablet’s touch screen using a stylus or equivalent and save these back to the “Committee Hub” for future reference.

 

Further support and training had been provided to Members since the original “Market Stall” sessions and ICT support going forward was being provided as part of ICT service business as usual.   Reference was made to the fact that the ICT Service Desk was did not provide a support service during evenings and weekends, albeit there was a general acknowledgment amongst those present that this would be unaffordable given the financial pressures on all services.

 

The ICT service restructure was completed on 1st June, 2017.  There were no staff redundancies.  Following this process, ten posts on the new structure remained vacant.  The recruitment campaign for these posts was ongoing with a view to fully populating the new structure by the autumn of 2017.  The new structure was designed to provide resilience to core ICT services and add more capacity to the ICT Security and Information Management functions whilst also delivering savings in terms of staff salary costs.  The ICT service continued to provide opportunities for young workers.  There were two trainee posts on the new structure.

 

The ICT service fell into Tranche 1 of the Council’s Reshaping Services programme. The savings target for 2015/16 was £70,000, 2016/17 was £205,000, 2017/18 was £400,000, and 2018/19 was £150,000.  The total savings target for the ICT service over this four year period was £825,000.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the content of the report be noted and Officers from the ICT and Democratic Services be thanked for the amount of work undertaken.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure Members were made aware of any developments to their ICT Service to the wider Council.