Agenda and minutes

Democratic Services Committee
Monday, 9th November, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: virtually via Microsoft Teams - if you would like to attend this meeting live via Microsoft Teams please contact committee.services@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Contact: Democratic Services  5100

Media

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 from Councillors G. Collier, L. Elias and H. McCarthy.

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 16th March, 2020.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 16th March, 2020.

 

The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be received as a true record of proceedings.

5.

Draft Independent Remuneration Panel Report pdf icon PDF 779 KB

To consider report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Minutes:

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

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Organisational Development Manager spoke to the report and highlighted that the report considered the main proposals included within the 2021/22 draft report as they related directly to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

 

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

 

A Member enquired regarding the care component in relation to personal expenses. The Organisational Development Manager explained that when reported under the statement of payments made, the bottom entry within the statement of accounts showed the total value reimbursed, there was no reference attributed to any elected Member in the detail.

 

The Head of Government & Partnerships added that during the last consultation period and the discussion around how the cost of care was reported it had been agreed by this Committee and Council that it would be reported as an aggregated amount and not attributed to individuals.

 

A Member referred to para 2.12.6 of the report and enquired if the Authority were encouraging diversity and promoting the take-up of contributions towards the costs of care and personal assistance.  The Head of Governance & Partnerships said that as Head of Democratic Services she actively supported and encouraged Members to claim a contribution of cost of care.  She felt that some Members could benefit from this opportunity, however, it was Members personal choice.  This message was also reiterated when the report was presented to Council.  If Members wished to discuss this matter with the Head of Democratic Services, she would welcome the opportunity to further encourage take up of this offer.

 

With reference to paragraph 2.13 Entitlement to Family Absence, a Member enquired if there was a set time period for an elected Member substituting for a senior salary holder. The Head of Governance & Partnerships said that although reference was made to this, there was no specific time limit stated in the report.  A few anomalies had been identified during the consultation period and there were elements of the draft report that needed improvement.  She felt that if there was an instance where a substitute was appointed to a senior salary role, the duration of that appointment would depend on the personal circumstances of the situation and full Council would decide on what approach should be taken.

 

A Member enquired regarding remuneration to support Members to improve digital connectivity, broadband speeds etc.  The Organisational Development Manager said the draft report made reference to elected Members to have ready use of e-mail services and electronic access to appropriate information via an internet connection.  Without adequate connections Members would be significantly limited in their ability to discharge their duties.

 

The Head of Governance & Partnerships said that the general point from the report was around Members being supported to access appropriate digital ICT equipment and arrangements so they were not disadvantaged and felt that this may not necessarily be a payment for enhanced broadband connectivity.  The draft report did not make reference to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Proposed Forward Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 14 KB

To consider report of the Chair of the Democratic Services Committee.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Chair of the Democratic Services Committee.

 

The Head of Governance & Partnerships spoke to the reports on the Forward Work Programme. This Committee meeting had been delayed due to the pandemic and the next meeting had been proposed for the end of February/early March so Members would have an opportunity to have sight of the final IRP report before being presented to Council.  Democratic Arrangements Year End Progress report would give a year end position and tie in with the Annual Report of the Head of Democratic Services.  With regard to the Statement of Payments and Schedule of Members Remuneration, statutory obligations remained within the time scale set and this work needed to carry on.  The final IRP report would be added to the Forward Work Programme if available.

 

In response to a Member’s question regarding SRS colleagues being invited to a future meeting to discuss issues with digital connectivity, the Head of Governance & Partnerships advised Members that due to the pandemic connectivity issues had dramatically moved on since the last debate with Members now accessing formal Committee meetings via Microsoft Teams and online with support from Officers and this was the same picture throughout Wales.  ICT issues raised in the previous debate had been very specific and may not be relevant now. Moving forward, Members remote attendance could be considered in future reports. 

 

A Member enquired regarding issues accessing exempt items on the Modern.Gov App.  The Head of Governance & Partnerships said this may be an issue with functionality and product development on the Modern.Gov App, she would make enquiries to see if any progress had been made regarding this point and provide Members with an update on the report. 

 

Another Member commented that there may be cost implications associated with access to exempt items on the Modern.Gov App.  The Head of Governance & Partnerships said it may be the case that some additional functions may need to be added to the Modern.Gov App, and would also incorporate this information into the report coming forward.

 

The Committee AGREED this course of action.

 

With regard to the Annual Report of the Head of Democratic Services, a Member expressed his appreciation for the work the Democratic Services Team were doing to support Members.  The Chair and the Committee agreed with the Members comments and also expressed their thanks for the support received.

 

The Head of Governance & Partnerships thanked Members for their comments and said it had been an extremely challenging time and Members had been outstanding in the way they had grasped this new way of working, it had been a steep learning curve for everyone.

 

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the Democratic Services Committee Forward Work Programme be approved.

7.

Time of Future Meetings

To consider.

Minutes:

The Committee AGREED that future meetings of the Democratic Services Committee be held at 10.00 a.m.