Agenda and draft minutes

Democratic Services Committee
Thursday, 16th January, 2020 11.00 am

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

Contact: Chris Slade  Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Apologies / Croeso ac Ymddiheuriadau

Minutes:

1.1       Apologies were received from Councillor Kathy Evans.

2.

Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o Fuddiant

Minutes:

2.1       No interests were declared.

3.

Minutes - 17/01/19 / Cofnodion - 17/01/19 pdf icon PDF 365 KB

Minutes:

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

4.

Action Sheet / Taflen Weithredu pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes:

4.1       The Committee noted the action sheet.

5.

Chair's Update / Diweddariad y Cadeirydd

Minutes:

5.1       The Chair updated that he attended a meeting with the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRP) in Cardiff in November where he was informed that they had made the determination to increase Members’ basic allowance by 2.5%; special responsibility allowances were to remain the same.  Individual Members could decide whether they take the increase – it was not party political.  He advised that any Members who did not want to take the rise could contact the Monitoring Officer.  The AHoDS informed the Committee that she would be emailing all Members at the beginning of March about the increase and would be asking them to inform her whether they would not like to accept it.

 

5.2       At the meeting, they also discussed the subject of personal safety for Members.  The Chair said that Members at Cardiff Council had to be issued with personal alarms.  He explained that in his experience, specifically with his ward surgery, he had instances where he had attended on his own.  The building was quite isolated and it had made him feel vulnerable at times.  He stated that it was quite easy to have confrontations with emotional residents, and that it wouldn’t take much for an individual to report that he had touched them inappropriately; it be his word against theirs.  He had since decided to stop doing them not only because of this, but also weighing up how many people attended, associated costs and time.  He closed by saying that the Council had a duty of care and should Members feel as though they had security issues, it should be investigated and taken forward.

 

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

  • Members were constantly vulnerable, particularly at surgeries.
  • Personal security for Members was a new determination by the IRP and so should it remain in the final version of their annual report, it would be the duty of Democratic Services to fund or provide support to enable the Councillor to discharge their role reasonably and safely.  Cardiff Council were further down the road to other local authorities.  They provided a form for their Members to complete in order to measure risk.  Torfaen had been proactive in removing some Members’ addresses from the Council website, but only when requested to do so.

 

5.4       The meeting adjourned for a short time due to a fire alarm.  Those in attendance before returned.

 

  • Examples of appropriate security were additional lighting, CCTV and smart doorbell CCTV.
  • It was thought that Cardiff’s model would be used as a framework as there was no need to reinvent the wheel.  The guidance would be written up with input from Members, Police, Community Safety and any other interested parties.
  • Not all Members would want additional security, but it would give others some comfort.  All Members would be given the opportunity to discuss their security requirements.
  • PCSO’s used to attend surgeries, but this was becoming less frequent, possibly due to cutbacks. 
  • It was important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Member Satisfaction Survey Results / Canlyniadau Arolwg Bodlonrwydd Aelodau pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1       The AHoDS introduced the report and gave a brief overview of its content; to update Members on the results of the recent Member satisfaction survey.

 

6.2       The Chair commented that he thought it was poor that only half of the Members had decided to complete the survey.  Councillor Seabourne stated that she had experienced difficulties in completing the online form on her computer, and so had to complete it on her mobile phone. 

 

6.3       Referring to Members’ ICT, the Chair outlined that the local authorities had approached it differently.  He was aware that one authority gave their Members a lump sum to buy their own equipment.  This was not without its problems as it affected their tax and some were buying sub-standard equipment which was not up to the job.  Others only gave their Cabinet equipment and some, if their equipment broke down it wasn’t replaced.  In comparison, he thought Torfaen’s approach was one of the best.  The AHoDS explained that Democratic and Members Services were not consulted on what ICT would be appropriate for Members and that it was understandable that some thought it was too complicated for what they wanted it for.  Some Members had resorted to just using their mobile phones as they only wanted access to email.

 

6.4       The Chair highlighted that some Councillors had commented about the Members’ hotline.  The AHoDS responded that although it was helpful, the feedback was that not many Members used it and so it was being discontinued; new Members were not told about it.  Councillor Tew stated that it was important for Members to experience what the public did when contacting the Council, in order to better understand their complaints.  Councillor Gauden explained that she never phoned in as she used email.  In her experience, any emails that were urgent she had received a response straight away.

 

6.5       The AHoDS referred Members to the question of moving to paperless and that one of the comments received was having extension cables installed onto the Cabinet table.  She confirmed that it was a good idea and that she would take it forward.  Councillor Parrish commented that the Members’ Room could also do with having a refresh and have spaces which allowed Members to plug in their own equipment.  The SBSO responded that there were plans to replace the laptops and that he would look to see if there could be spaces created for using their own device.  He also stated that attention would be given to the Railway Carriage.

 

6.6       Councillor Gauden drew Members attention to question 11 and stated that she more often than not found it difficult to read what was being presented during Member Seminars.  The SBSO explained that one of the projectors had broken down and that he would ask that it be repaired.  Councillor Gauden explained that perhaps consideration could be given to using larger fonts.  The AHoDS agreed to take this up with officers.

 

6.7       The Chair referred to question two and said that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of Next Meeting - 23/04/20 / Dyddiad y Cyfarfod Nesaf - 23/04/20

Minutes:

7.1       The Chair stated that he was not available on the date of the next meeting and suggested 2 April.  All Members agreed to the change of date.

 

7.2       Meeting closed at 12.07pm.