Meeting documents

Democratic Services Committee
Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018 11.30 am

Date: Tuesday 23rd October 2018 Time: 11.30 a.m. Place: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Version of Agenda Coversheet (169K/bytes)

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.


An apology for absence was received from Councillor T. Sharrem.


No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

Minutes (161K/bytes)
Cofnodion (158K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4th July, 2018; whereupon:-

P.8 second paragraph 'The Corporate Performance Manager agreed to take this request forward with the Head of Democratic Services'

A Member said this should have been brought out as an action, and another Member said this issue was addressed in Council.

P.11 second paragraph

It was reported that the word 'open' should be amended to read 'openness'.

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing that the Minutes be received as a true record of proceedings.

Report (309K/bytes)
Appendix (444K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Performance Manager.

The Head of Democratic Services presented the Democratic Services Progress Report (Appendix 1) for the period April to September 2018, which had been developed to incorporate the established action plans covering scrutiny support and Member development.

The Officer spoke to the report and highlighted some of the key activities undertaken. She was pleased to report that the resubmission of the Level 1 Wales Charter for Member Support and Development had been successful, and the WLGA had been invited to present the Charter Award to Council on 8th November, 2018.

In response to comments raised by Members, the Head of Democratic Services confirmed that attendance records were kept of Members' Briefing Sessions, and role specific sessions would be offered and arranged with the Members involved. In relation to attendance on outside bodies the agreed process was that feedback from Members would be reported to Council, and this was expected to become more frequent moving forward. However, she was not aware of any issues of non-attendance of Members on outside bodies.

The Head of Democratic Services then referred to the WAO study 'Overview and Scrutiny: Fit for the Future?' and confirmed that the Council had gone through the process and some specific areas to be looked at for improvement was training on the Well-being of Future Generations Act for scrutiny Members to improve their understanding and consideration of the Act; also understanding the individual development needs of Members and deliver relevant scrutiny skill training; and developing Members' questioning skills to improve questioning and constructive challenge.

In relation to webcasting the Head of Democratic Services confirmed that information was awaited on new IT software that would enable the Authority to webcast.

She also confirmed that she had met with Group Leaders to identify IT support for Members, and discussions were ongoing regarding development of an IT training programme.

A Member said it would be more appropriate for Members to explain their individual IT support needs, rather than designing a programme for all Members.

The Head of Democratic Services confirmed that specific issues would be picked up at Group meetings to ensure that Members IT needs are built into an ongoing training programme that would be sustainable and suited to those Members who were more competent IT users and those that needed more support.

A brief discussion ensued when a Member said he had been informed that Members' laptops needed to be plugged into the network to be updated periodically, and suggested that a communication be circulated informing of this.

In terms of the Scrutiny support element and in response to concerns raised by a Member regarding the key performance measures the Head of Democratic Services confirmed that a review of the key indicator descriptions would be undertaken to ensure that the data was valid and reliable, and provide more clarity for the report author and the Chair.

A Member asked why there was no figure provided for Q2 for the number of recommendations amended by Scrutiny accepted by Executive.

I response the Head of Democratic Services explained that the figure may not have been available at the time of writing the report, and undertook to provide the figure prior to the next meeting.

The Member also asked that that the number of recommendations made by Scrutiny and not accepted by Executive be included, and the Head of Democratic Services undertook to provide this information. However, she explained that in the event of a recommendation not being accepted by Executive, the arrangement was that the reasons would be reported back to the relevant Scrutiny Committee.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Democratic Arrangements Progress Report be submitted to Council for approval.

Report (309K/bytes)
Appendix (152K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Performance Manager.

The Head of Democratic Services spoke to the report which presented the Wales Charter for Member Support and Development. She said this was very positive news for the Council and confirmed that the WLGA would be attending Council on the 8th November, 2018 to present the Charter Award.

The WLGA commended the Authority on our submission which acknowledges the arrangements we have in place for Member development and support, and they are encouraging us to consider future submissions at an advanced level.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and the content of the report be noted prior to approval at Council, whereby the WLGA would attend to present the Wales Charter for Member Support and Development Award to Council.

Report (315K/bytes)
Appendix (859K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

The Exchequer Services Manager presented the report which detailed the proposals of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales for 2019/2020.

The Officer went through the report and highlighted the Panels determinations for the annual report for 2019/2020 as follows:-

Basic & Senior Salaries

The Panel determined that the limit on the number of senior salaries payable would remain in place, for Blaenau Gwent this was 17, and that the rate payable for senior salaries shall not change for 2019/20 except to reflect the increase in the basic salary element.


The Panel determined that there should be an increase to the Band 1 and Band 2 senior salaries payable to the Leader and the Deputy Leader and Executive Members. The amount of this increase is 800, inclusive of the 268 increase to the basic salary that all Members would receive.

Reimbursement of Costs of Care

The Panel determined that there would be no change to the reimbursement of costs of care, and this would remain at a maximum of 403 per month upon production of receipts from the carer.

To support current Members and to encourage diversity the Panel urged Authorities to promote and encourage greater take-up of the reimbursement of costs of care.

The Panel recognised the issues relating to the publication of this legitimate expense and therefore the Panel decided to provide Authorities with two options, i.e:-

- Details of the amounts reimbursed to named Members.

- The total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year but not attributed to any named Members.

It was for the Authority to decide which of these options it considered appropriate.

A Member asked whether refusal of the salary increase was an option, and the Officer confirmed that this would need to be made formally in writing or by e.mail.

A discussion ensued when Members said they would prefer any monies saved from refusal of salary increases to go back into the community, and sought guidance on how this could be achieved. A Member also pointed out that any salary increase could affect those Members in receipt of Working Tax Credits.

The Head of Democratic Services said this was the draft IRP Report, with the final report being produced in February 2019. The Authority had been invited to the Panel consultation and there would be opportunity to confirm Members' views during that process.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Draft IRPW proposals be agreed prior to consideration by full Council; and

It was FURTHER AGREED to recommend the preferred option 2 for the publication of the costs of care be agreed, namely:-

The total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year but not attributed to any named member.