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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 26th July 2017

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services

 

Member Induction / Member Development 2017

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide the Committee with an overview of work undertaken by the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section in developing, preparing and delivering the Council's agreed Member Induction programme for newly-elected and returning Councillors following the local government elections in May 2017.

Recommendation

THAT work undertaken by the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Section in relation to Member Induction and the ongoing Member Development programme and associated activities be noted.

Reason for the Recommendation

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

Background

  1. 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.
  2. It is worth acknowledging from the perspective of both officers and returning Members that the work of an elected Member is complicated and challenging and the political, legislative and local landscape in which they work is changing constantly. Local communities quite rightly have high expectations of their elected representatives from the day of their election and throughout their period of office. It is essential, therefore, that elected Members are given every assistance in preparing to be able to quickly and successfully navigate the numerous different aspects of local government. It is also important to stress the importance of the ongoing commitment of Members to participate in development opportunities beyond the current Programme as they bed into their new roles internally and externally to the Council.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Member training and development is 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, are being, and will 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.
  1. The Council as an organisation views its Induction Programme as an important development opportunity as it enables newly elected Members to quickly become familiar with how the Council works, the rules and procedures under which it operates and the complexities of the elected Member role.
  2. 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 can be seen from the above that work began well ahead of the May 207 election.

  1. 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 have 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).
  2. 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 (some 159) candidates were asked to book a place on one the four timeslots available over the 2 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"

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. Democratic Services Officers also oversaw and were involved in the "Recommended Induction" Programme, which has 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.
  2. The overall Member Induction and Development Programmes incorporate 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 have, or will have, taken place by the end of October. Out of the 45 sessions held or arranged to date, 14 (31%) have been day time sessions (between 09.00 and 16.00). and 31 (69%) have been evening sessions 916.00 - 21.00).
  3. 12 of the 24 training topics have been labelled as mandatory, equating to 50% of the Programme. To maximise attendance and being sympathetic to Members' personal commitments, mop-up sessions have been arranged on a 1:1 or small group basis. This process is continuing. Out of the 12 Mandatory topics, 9(75%) have been completed with one currently taking place and two scheduled to take place in the near future. The 12 mandatory topics have been delivered over 24 scheduled sessions with a maximum expected attendance level of 347 places.
  4. Final attendance figures are not currently available as three of the sessions are yet to take place. Out of the nine sessions that have already taken place, attendance figures are very positive. The largest amount of individuals still left to attend a mop-up session is 16 for the Equalities and Welsh Language topic and the lowest being eight for the Information Governance and Data Protection topic. Democratic Services are currently in the process of arranging the relevant mop-up sessions.
  5. The bulk of the initial Programme will have been delivered by the time the August recess begins.. Following the recess, there will be only six further topics to deliver, including the two topics added since the Programme began.
  6. 21 (88%) of the topics have been facilitated by Vale of Glamorgan Officers, with three (12%) being delivered by an external facilitator; from the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).
  7. Further statistical information can be found at Appendix A to the report.
  8. The ongoing Programme will largely be delivered in-house and will comprise a mix of delivery methods, which will include access to e-learning (for example, utilising the All-Wales Academy training material, now hosted on the National Health Service portal).
  9. Significant time and resources has 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 has 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 are also available as a resource tool, including important links to websites i.e. WLGA - Academy Wales Training resources.

"Council Provided Equipment - Member Support"

  1. In the lead up to the Local Government Elections this year and previously following the transferring of Member Services to Democratic Services in 2013 it has been necessary to undertake an audit of devices issued to Members during the period 2012 to 2017. 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.
  2. This process has 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. Records of the inventories have been maintained for audit purposes in the event of an audit inspection. It was further essential that non-returning Members returned equipment given the data sensitivity implications of information held on Council-provided devices.
  3. All returned devices / equipment have been assessed on functionality by ICT. Older equipment has been scrapped in accordance with the Council's Scrappage Policy. Functional devices / equipment have been data wiped and re-issued into the organisation's officer corp.
  4. Moving forward, Members should be assured that appropriate records are held, maintained and updated in relation to equipment issued to Members during the period they are elected. These records will be held by Democratic Services in liaison with ICT.

"Innovation and Savings"

  1. The Member ICT Refresh Strategy referred to earlier in this 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 hosts Council agendas and reports for access by Members.
  2. As Members become more confident in accessing Committee papers through the "Hub" it is anticipated that savings to the Council will result as a consequence of less physical agendas being produced and posted to Members and circulated to the officers ; this process is already underway.
  3. In addition to any reports to the Democratic Services Committee and Cabinet as appropriate, the Council's (Officer) Insight Board will be kept updated. A small Officer Working Group will be responsible for progressing the work.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The majority of the Programme has been delivered on an in-house basis. Any expenditure incurred on external facilitators (e.g. the WLGA in respect of Chairing Skills) has been met from within the existing budgets.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report. However, this comprehensive package of Training and Development will contribute to the sustainable running of the Council. It is also a reflection of the pace of change within the Authority, the significant legislative changes and how Local Government generally has evolved over the five years since the last Council elections in 2012.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Member training and development is required by the Local Government Act 2000, Local Government Measure (Wales) 2011.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Members will note that a number of sessions have been delivered twice (i.e. on different days and times of day) including, a number of "mop up" sessions arranged for Members who were unable to attend on one of the original Induction Programme dates.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This report contributes to the Well-being Goals as set out earlier in the report. It is consistent with the five ways of working as defined within the sustainable development principle in the Act in that an Induction Programme will help prepare Members for their decision-making responsibilities in which they will need to consider the positive and negative impacts on future generations, long term community resilience, economic, environmental and social capital.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The Council's Corporate Plan 2016-2020 states that the Values set out in the Corporate Plan will be built in to our Personal Development Review processes and Member Development Programme. This will ensure that everyone understands their role and the importance of taking pride in our work, being open and working together to achieve our ambitions.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This is an internal matter, and, therefore, no consultation has been necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources.

Background Papers

Member Development Strategy

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011

Contact Officer

Jeff Rees, Tel: 01446 709413

Officers Consulted

Head of Democratic Services

Responsible Officer:

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services

 

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