Agenda and minutes
Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 29th October, 2015 2.00 pm
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Marie Russell Committee Officer
Apologies for Absence:
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Andrew Bailey, D J Griffiths and Barbara Roxburgh.
Declarations of Personal Interest:
Councillor Carole O’Toole gave notice of her intention to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in respect of Agenda Item 5 – Members’ Remuneration – Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales.
To confirm the Minutes of the previous meetings held on 15 July 2015
The Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2015 were submitted.
AGREED – That the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2015 be received and confirmed as a correct record.
Minute 5 – Webcasting of Council Meetings
The Head of Democratic Services advised that the current Executive Board layout, which included a separate Lead Member table, had been designed to allow for a clear and professional presentation of reports during the meeting and was in line with the approach taken by many other neighbouring Authorities.
To consider the report of the Head of Democratic Services.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report (HCCS/133/15) providing an update on the publication of Member Annual Reports and allowing Members to consider the role of the Member Development Champion. The following points were discussed:-
· General agreement that in future annual reports should be submitted by end of April and published by end of May.
· Request for political breakdown of completion of Annual Reports. The HoDS advised that this information could be determined by viewing the Council website.
· Members of the Democratic Service Committee should take some responsibility for encouraging those in their Group to complete an Annual Report.
· It was agreed that the Chair of Democratic Services Committee and the Member Development Champion could offer to visit Groups to discuss Member Development Review meetings.
· Some concern that Mentor Training may not be the best use of resources as new Councillors tend to be mentored unofficially by long standing Councillors across all Groups.
· It was agreed that the Training Manager and the Member Development Champion would meet to consider the options available for mentoring i.e. what mentoring courses were available, costs etc.
AGREED – That the Democratic Services Committee:
(i) Note the number of Member Annual Reports published;
(ii) Agrees that all Members should be invited to submit their annual reports for 2015/16 to the Head of Democratic Services by 30 April 2016;
(iii) Endorses the priorities for the Member Development Champion during the current year and in particular requests that the Training Manager and Member Development Champion consider the options available for mentoring i.e. courses available and costs etc. and report back to the next meeting of the Committee.
To consider the report of the Head of Democratic Services.
(The Chair vacated her seat prior to discussion of the report (HF/55/15) and the Vice Chair presided as Chair for this item only).
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/55/15) allowing the Committee to consider the proposed changes to the Members’ Remuneration Scheme as contained within the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales’ report (February 2016).
In introducing the report, the Payroll and Pensions Manager advised that the closing date for the submission of responses was 30 November 2015 and that if agreed, it would be implemented at the start of the next municipal year.
In highlighting the main changes contained in the Panel’s report, the Payroll and Pensions Manager made particular reference to the following:
· Proposed changes to the remuneration framework, in order to reflect the varying cabinet sizes across the different Councils.
· The introduction of two levels of remuneration for Chairs of Committees in order to recognise the differing levels of responsibility and workloads.
· The introduction of a new pay banding for the Leader of the largest opposition group.
· Clarification that travel expenses for approved mileage allowance payments would be exempt from income tax and NICs.
· An increase in the maximum reimbursement of subsistence rates.
In discussing the proposed changes, the following comments were made:
· Strong opposition to the Panel’s proposed changes to the remuneration framework. General recognition that the role of Lead Member had increased greatly in recent years and that this was accurately reflected in the current framework. Any reductions would not be supported but if imposed these should be made fair across the board and all Lead Members excluding the Leader and Deputy Leader should be paid the same.
· Strong opposition to the Panel’s proposal to introduce two levels of remuneration for Chairs of Committees. The Committee agreed that the current single banding should remain. It was recognised that it would not be possible (without further guidance) to accurately determine which level each Chair should be paid based on their level of responsibility and workload.
· The current salary for the Leader of the Largest Opposition Group should be retained.
· Concern around the rationale for the proposal to reduce the Deputy Leader’s salary.
· Suggestion that representations should be made on behalf of the Democratic Services Committee, expressing concern at poor use of wording in the IRP for Wales’ report and the potential for causing division within the Councils.
· Recognition from Members that Welsh Government was putting pressure on the IRP to reduce costs.
AGREED – That the draft response outlined in the report and discussed at the meeting should incorporate the concerns of the Committee.
(Pursuant to the Council’s Code of Conduct, Councillor Carole O’Toole declared a personal and prejudicial interest in respect of this item (by virtue of having a relative on the Panel) and left the meeting, taking no part in the discussion).
To receive a verbal report from the Head of Democratic Services.
The Head of Democratic Services advised the Committee that arrangements were in hand to finalise the guidance to access e-learning
for Members and that 4 Members had been identified to trial them and provide feedback. The guidance would then be issued to all Members.
The Head of Democratic Services gave a brief demonstration of one of the eLearning training modules and, with input from Sue Pope, Training Manager, she responded to Members questions accordingly thereafter.
The Head of Democratic Services advised that whilst some of the eLearning functions could not be accessed on the iPad there were options available to overcome this, such as using Members Room computer or providing group sessions for Members.
The Head of Democratic Services advised that she would be working with IT to try and establish ways to make e-learning fully functional via i-Pad. She further advised that a link to the learning pool should be made available on the i-Pad.
After discussion Members came to the view that group training sessions for Members with a Training Officer present on site would be beneficial. It was further suggested that Members may benefit from an initial workshop introducing Members to e-learning. It was suggested that monthly training sessions take place on varying days and at varying times to allow Members a greater opportunity to attend.
A Member queried if he would be able to bring his own PC to the training sessions. The Head of Democratic Services suggested that if the Council website could be accessed from the PC then this may be a way forward for some.
AGREED – The Head of Democratic Services to liaise with the Training Manager with a view to providing 90 minute monthly e-leaning training sessions at ITEC.
Date of next meeting:
3 March 2016 at 10.00 am.