Agenda and minutes

Democratic Services Committee
Monday, 16th March, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Contact: Democratic Services  6139

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.

Minutes:

 

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

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received for:-

 

Councillors G. A. Davies, K. Hayden, W. Hodgins, G. Paulsen, T. Sharrem, H. Trollope.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interest and dispensations received.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

 

4.

Democratic Services Committee pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 5th November, 2019.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 5th November, 2019, whereupon:

 

Councillor S. Thomas left the meeting at this juncture.

 

Apology for Absence

 

It was noted that Councillor Lee Parson’s apology for absence had not been recorded.

 

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

 

5.

Annual Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 566 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Councillors N. Daniels and S. Thomas joined the meeting at this juncture.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Organisational Development Manager spoke briefly to the report and highlighted the following salient points contained therein:

 

ØThe Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) published an annual report detailing its determinations for the upcoming year.

 

ØFor 2020/2021, the Panel had determined that there would be an increase of £350 a year in the basic salary.

 

ØNo additional increases would be paid to senior salary holders in 2020/2021 – only the basic salary element increase would be received.

 

ØCouncils were committed to ‘paperless working’ and without electronic access Members would be significantly limited in their ability to discharge their duties.  It was not appropriate for facilities required by Members to be only available within council offices within office hours.

 

ØThe responsibility of each Council through its Democratic Services Committee to provide support should be based on an assessment of the needs of its Members.

 

ØThe Panel had determined that there would be no change to mileage rates which Members were entitled to claim.

 

 

 

 

ØReimbursement of Costs of Care – there was no change to the reimbursement of Costs of Care, this remained at a maximum of £403 per month upon production of receipts from the carer.  However, the Panel was continuing to review this provision as it was clear that very few Members were utilising it and on 13th February, 2020 the Panel published a draft supplementary report – ‘Principals relating to the Reimbursement of Costs of Care’. This consultation would end on 9th April, 2020 and comments prior to the publication of the final report would be appreciated.

 

In addition, previously it had been the decision of each principal Council to determine how the cost of care was published.  For 2020/2021 the Panel had removed that option and had stipulated that authorities should only publish the total amount reimbursed during the year.

 

The views of Members were, thereupon, sought in relation to the report.

 

Paperless Working – a Member referred to paragraph 2.9.2 of the report i.e. “Councils were committed to ‘paperless working’ and without electronic access Members would be significantly limited in their ability to discharge their duties”. 

 

Taking into the consideration the Covid 19 pandemic which would affect everyone, it now was definitely the time for the Council to come into the 21st Century in terms of its ICT provision and as the Council was not currently complying with this determination there was a need for this matter to be addressed urgently.

 

The Head of Governance & Partnerships acknowledged the important point relating to the Covid 19 outbreak and advised that this would be pursued as part of the Emergency Response Team arrangements.  In terms of compliance, it was reported that the Council was complying with the Panel’s determination as all Members had been offered ICT provision and were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Annual Report of the Head of Democratic Services pdf icon PDF 538 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Governance and Partnerships.

Minutes:

The report of the Head of Governance & Partnerships (Statutory Head of Democratic Services) was submitted for consideration.

 

The Head of Governance & Partnerships spoke in detail to the report which provided a summary of the comprehensive arrangements that were in place to support Members.   The points raised in the earlier item were noted and Members were advised that advice and guidance in terms of ICT provision would be sought.

 

Members views were, thereupon, sought in relation to the report.

 

Modern.Gov Agenda Management System – concern was expressed that Members were unable to view ‘confidential’ items on this system.  In addition, these items were unable to viewed on the I Pad ‘app’.

 

The Head of Governance and Partnerships whilst undertaking to pursue this matter pointed out that ‘confidential’ items could be accessed via Members’ laptops.

 

The additional comments/question were raised:

 

-      Most people used android devices and this should have been pursued earlier by the I.T. department.

 

-      If Members were being asked to use a variety of platforms could separate passwords be provided to access these sites?

 

-      There was a need for the Council to focus on how it would move forward in terms of its ICT arrangements in the future.  One local authority had established a Members Working Group that would produce its own report and this would be used to supplement the reports provided by officers.

 

The Chair proposed that a representative from the Shared Resource Service (SRS) be invited to the next meeting of the Committee in order that Members had the opportunity to ask these poignant questions.  As the date for the next meeting of the Committee had yet to be set, the Chair confirmed that a Special Committee would be convened specifically to discuss issues in relation to ICT arrangements.

 

It was pointed out that the SRS was currently undertaking priority work as part of the emergency response arrangements to the Covid-19 pandemic and it was acknowledged by the Chair that this work would need to take precedence.

 

This course of action was AGREED accordingly.

 

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously it was,

 

FURTHER AGREED to recommend to Council, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely that the Committee had made specific recommendations for Council for consideration prior to approval.