The Democratic and Civic Officer introduced the Annual Report for Member Development. She explained that it focussed on the May 2019 Induction Programme, covering attendance figures, feedback and suggestions for the future. She highlighted to the Committee that the first meeting of the Member Development Group had met and identified their priorities for the coming months and years. It was summarised that the main priorities were the introduction of online training options; the development of a comprehensive induction for Councillors joining through a by-election; and initial preparations for the 2023 Induction Programme, taking into account the lessons from May 2019.
The Committee discussed the benefits and pitfalls of online training and it was clarified that face to face sessions would still be undertaken – the online options would not be the only training provision. The Democratic and Civic Officer explained how online training was implemented for Officers and the range of training courses that were available through the existing providers. It was also queried how it could be monitored whether Councillors were undertaking the online courses. The Chairman confirmed that the online training would be accessed via personal log-in details and completed courses would be recorded within the training system, meaning it would be straightforward to see who had completed which courses. He added that most courses included ‘check your understanding’ sections meaning it was also possible to assess whether the training had been beneficial or not, however, as with most development sessions within the council, there was no power with which to mandate Councillors to attend or complete such training. The Monitoring Officer highlighted that any Member who did not attend the committee specific mandatory training would not be able to sit on that committee, but there were no such sanctions for other training or development sessions.
A Member of Committee enquired about the reduced attendance rate through 2018/19, from an average of a third of Councillors attending, to a fifth of Councillors that year. It was explained that attendance figures did tend to fluctuate and that the final year of a four year term was usually quieter both in terms of sessions offered and numbers attending. The Corporate Policy Manager explained that attendance figures and satisfaction levels were now recorded through the performance and delivery measures and that for the current year, attendance was running at around 42%, which was slightly above previous average attendance levels.
The Chairman confirmed that the Member Development Group would be meeting again in November and would move forward with the online training options.
(1) Members accept the report as an accurate reflection of Member Development over the past municipal year;
(2) Members approve the priorities as identified by the Member Development Group, those being: online training options, the induction process for Members elected through by-elections and initial work on the full 2023 Induction Programme;
(3) Members agree to receive a further report no later than April 2020 in which options for alternative methods of delivery (ie, online training options) will ... view the full minutes text for item 27