Agenda and draft minutes

Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 17th January, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Hanbury Road, Pontypool, NP4 6YB

Contact: Chris Slade  Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services

No. Item


Welcome and Apologies / Croeso ac Ymddiheuriadau


1.1       Apologies were received from Councillor Colette Thomas.


Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o Fuddiant


2.1       No interests were declared.


Minutes / Cofnodion pdf icon PDF 335 KB


3.1       The minutes of the previous meeting were confirmed as an accurate record.


Action Sheet / Taflen Weithredu pdf icon PDF 127 KB


4.1       In relation to the second action from the meeting on 8 October 2015, the Chair stated that the committee asked for it to be put forward for the Corporate Parenting training to be mandatory, as not a lot of Members had attended.  However, the mandatory aspect of the training was not enforceable and so the Chair suggested that the action be removed.  The Committee agreed.


4.2       With regards to the third action from the meeting on 26 September 2017, the HoBS&I explained that polling stations were currently being reviewed and so suggested that the work with that be combined with the work around Members’ Surgery venues.  Any venues that Members used that were not part of the review would be picked up separately.  In addition, if Members were thinking of moving to a different venue or starting a new surgery, the venue could be risk assessed in advance of the change. The Committee agreed.


Chair's Update / Diweddariad gan y Cadeirydd


5.1       The Chair updated Members that in November he had attended a   meeting with the Independent Remunerations Panel for Wales IRP in Cardiff, together with Chairs of Democratic Services Committees in         other local authorities and their respective Heads of Democratic       Services.  In summary, they discussed the increase in Members’        allowances which    was in the main accepted.  Also discussed was the          different ways in which care allowance was published – some Council’s   had decided to publish “global” sums which did not identify individuals,        and others had decided to publish amounts under each Members          name.  Torfaen had taken this approach in order to be as transparent         as possible and to save time should the information be requested         under the Freedom of Information Act.


5.2       The Chair had also attended a WLGA network meeting in Llandrindod       Wells where a discussion took place regarding the various ways in   which             local authorities approached allocating ICT to their Members.    He commended Torfaen’s approach and policy which in comparison,             worked well.


Code of Conduct - ICT Protocol - Amendment to the Constitution / Cod Ymddygiad - Protocol TGCh - Newid i'r Cyfansoddiad pdf icon PDF 374 KB


6.1       The HoBS&I introduced the report and gave a brief overview of its content; to seek the views of the Committee on the ICT Protocol for Members.  She explained that it was the second time the Committee had been asked to consider the report as it was referred back by Council on 26 June 2018 as members had asked for clarification on several points..


6.2       The HoBS&I stated that there had been a few amendments, which included making the protocol clearer, limits around personal use by family members, use of personal equipment, providing Members with mobile phone data packages and on-site PAT testing.


6.3       The HoBS&I took Members through each change in the ICT Protocol and asked whether they had any comments or questions.  They responded as follows:-

  • The Chair stated that he had spoken to the SBSO who had said that he could arrange for engineers to be present when he visited the Civic Centre for meetings.  The SBSO clarified that this could only be done when the engineers had planned their annual visit.  Members would be contacted when this took place.
  • The Chair said that following on from the Council Meeting of 26 June, he asked Members for feedback as to what issues they were experiencing with their ICT equipment.  He did not have any responses.

·                     Councillor Norma Parrish explained that she had ongoing issues with her equipment that the SRS were aware of, but were unable to help as yet.  This would be looked at outside of this meeting.  The HoPSSU responded that Members should bear with and use the ICT equipment provided.  Members were initially provided the equipment which they were not all able to use correctly.  He said that he had contacted the SRS about having ICT training sessions where staff can talk to Members about how best to use their equipment.  He reiterated that in his role as SIRO (Senior Information Risk Owner), he would prefer Members to use the equipment provided to them and to not have personal information stored on their own devices.


.6.4      The Committee:-

·         UNINIMOUSLY AGREED to propose the required amendments for consideration by the Council’s Ethics and Standards Committee.


Paperless Meetings / Cyfarfodydd Di-bapur pdf icon PDF 220 KB


7.1       The HoBS&I introduced the report and gave a brief overview of its content; to seek the views of the Committee on how the Council can work towards achieving paperless meetings.


7.2       The Chair invited Members to ask any questions or make comments.          They   responded as follows:-

·         Councillor Mike Jeremiah stated that he was experiencing issues with his broadband and that he did not have access to the internet.  He asked when Members were experiencing these issues, how could they manage.  Also, paper copies were useful as Members could write on them.

·         Councillor Norma Parris commented that carrying the ICT was an issue for her, as well as other Members.

·         The Chair explained that he only used paper copies when chairing meetings.

·         Councillor Kelly Preston said that she was paperless for all meetings.  She found it more secure and easier to use, but recognised that it was not for everybody.  She commented that it was about taking small steps towards being paperless.

·         Councillor Joanne Gauden stated that there would need to be exceptions.  It presented issues around being able to write notes at meetings; she used to use OneNote but it had stopped working.  Councillor Gauden explained that she took on board what Members were saying about their issues but more agendas were being printed than before.

·         The HoBS&I explained that Members were still able to print their own agendas. 

·         Councillor Norma Parrish recalled having WLGA training on scrutiny where the trainer advised that Members could do a better job by utilising paper copy agendas.  The Chair responded that he recalled that, but things had moved on since.  Councillor Preston commented that it was about individual preferences but Members did need to move towards being paperless as much as possible.  She stated that there should be exceptions but Members did have the necessary tools to enable them to be paperless.

·         Councillor Kelly Preston outlined other opportunities for the Council to be paperless, which included displaying Members’ Council questions on the screen in the Chamber and Small Schemes forms being completed electronically and not in hard copy.

·         The HoBS&I explained that the Council received a Motion in 2011 and paperless meetings was pushed forward in some areas, but that had been relaxed.  Since then, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Commissioner had published some simple changes for public bodies to consider, one of which was working towards becoming paperless..  She recognised that there had to be exceptions and if there were reasons why Members could not go paperless, then Officers would need to be aware of that.  She also recognised that it may be difficult for some Committees to be completely paperless, but that Members needed to play their part.

·         Councillor Mike Jeremiah said that he accepted there were cost implications around having paper agendas and that Members should look to how they can go paperless.

·         The SBSO explained that had a free app available that would automatically download their agendas to enable easy access on and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Member Survey 2019 / Arolwg yr Aelodau 2019 pdf icon PDF 313 KB


8.1       The BSTL introduced the report and gave a brief overview of its       content; to invite Members of the Committee to comment on the draft   Member Satisfaction Survey and agree its content in advance of the      survey being             circulated to all Members.


8.2       The Chair invited Members to ask any questions or make comments.          They responded as follows:-

·         The Chair asked what the usual return percentage was.  The BSTL responded that it was less than 50 percent.  She explained that the survey was anonymous and should Members request, they could be given a paper copy.  The Chair said that the return might be low because if people were generally happy, they might just choose not to respond.  The BSTL stated that with a 50 percent return, Officers were able to get a steer on how Members were feeling.  The HoBS&I said that the survey provided the key performance measure for member satisfaction around their support and that the survey would also help in putting a training programme together. 

·         The Chair suggested that Group Leaders push their Members in completing the survey.

·         Councillor Kathy Evans asked when the survey would be circulated.  The BSTL responded that it would hopefully be sent to Members in March.

·         Councillor Evans stated that 4pm meetings were difficult for her.  The Chair said that some Members had asked for evening meetings.  Councillor Gauden explained that more than once meeting a day was tricky for her.  The HoBS&Iresponded by saying that this was the type of information Officers needed, although the timings of meetings were down to the individual Committees.  She said that Officers also needed an indication of what training Members needed and how it was delivered.  She also stated that she would like Members’ views on Seminars as the scope had changed over the years from looking at policies to receiving information.

·         The BSTL stated that there would be an area included in the survey where Members could provide any other views.

·         The Chair reiterated that it was important for all Members to complete the survey.

·         The HoBS&I highlighted that some Members had previously requested a case management system.  It was hoped that demand for this this would be picked up as part of the survey as currently there were no funds identified for it.  A business case would then need to be put together should Members believe they required it.  She said that this would be the case for any other improvements that Members identify.


8.3       The Committee:-

·         UNINIMOUSLY AGREED that the survey be circulated to all Members for completion.


Date of Next Meeting / Dyddiad y Cyfarfod Nesaf


9.1       The Chair confirmed that the next meeting would take place when there were sufficient items for discussion.