The Cabinet Lead for People and Organisational Development opened the item.
In February there had been a meeting held to discuss Planning training with a view to mirroring the training held at East Hampshire District Council, as it was a regular training programme. These training sessions would reflect Havant’s individual need but would ultimately allow for Members of both Councils to be flexible in which sessions they attended. The Cabinet Lead explained that planned training for Members had been put on hold as the Covid-19 Lockdown had taken place. As the Lockdown had progressed and the council had moved to remote working and remote meetings, training had to be focused on helping Members to learn to work in a digital environment. Virtual meetings and training could be recorded if necessary, allowing for increased flexibility and accessibility for Members in completing training. Moving forward a library of training sessions could be put together for members to look at, with presentations, question and answer sessions, and peer learning.
The Chairman expressed her thanks to officers for all their technical input over the years but felt that too much time had passed since training was initially looked at.
The Cabinet Lead for People and Organisational Development explained that previous proposed training plans had created complaints, and moving forward it would be up to the Members in conjunction with officers to establish the best needs for the Development Management Committee’s training.
In response to a question about training frequency, the Development Manager responded saying that at the meeting in February 2020 they had agreed to try and establish a potentially twice monthly training session for Members to try and cover a variety of topics. Matters of common interest to both councils could be held for Members of both together, whilst separate training sessions could be held for borough-specific training also.
The Cabinet Lead for People and Organisational Development highlighted the potential that virtual training sessions would hold, as training methods and topics could now be more diverse than before.
The Head of Organisational Development told the Board that virtual resource libraries with learning resources were to be launched in the coming weeks. There was an intention to give this to Councillors to allow them to access videos, webinars and pdfs covering a wide range of topics. This would be a step away from blanket training to an individualised response when it was eventually rolled out.
In response to a question about officer training, the Head of Organisational Development explained that monitoring of officer training took place in the form of a record which marked which officers passed their online course. Officers were ultimately responsible for their own development record, which they could share with their manager.
The Head of Organisational Development also added that resource libraries and e-learning facilities were live and so could be altered. The Training Needs Analysis Survey previously circulated for Members would be utilised to see where Councillors felt they could use more support, shaping their own development as officers do.
The HR Business Partner explained that the Training Needs Analysis Survey was shaped this year focusing strongly on the Councillor Competency Framework and published Councillor Role description in order to help Councillors themselves consider their role as a councillor and focus on any gaps which needed filling. Now that the survey had been completed, the HR team would look at seeing where that training could be sourced from and where the priorities lay.
The Cabinet Lead for People and Organisational Development in response to a question concerning Councillor attendance, said that Democratic Services kept records of Councillor attendance for all council meetings and the statistics for these were brought to the Councillor Development Panel. There had not been progression in bringing Councillors training records to the public domain, and there still remained to be a question mark over who explicitly manages Councillors.
In response to a question regarding the ‘A Councillor Can’ campaign, the Cabinet Lead for People and Organisational Development explained that whilst it raised awareness in the public of the work of Councillors whilst it had taken place, any sort of leaflet campaign could not be undertaken whilst the Covid crisis was ongoing. The Cabinet Lead informed the Board that the Councillor Development Panel had been looking at the campaign as an ongoing project, and that leaflets had been distributed at the Youth Conference held in March 2020.
In response to final questions submitted by the Board, the Cabinet Lead replied by saying:
a) whilst the elections for 2020 had been put on hold, work would be undertaken before the elections in 2021 in order to create an induction programme which reflected the needs of new Councillors in the ‘new normal’;
b) the Charter for Elected Member Development would be reassessed in March 2021, and new criteria had been given by South East Employers to meet which would be looked at by the Councillor Development Panel;
c) a manual/handbook for Members with useful contacts in had begun to be created in early 2020 pre-Covid, but would be picked up by Democratic Services to continue; and
d) the 360 Feedback Tool had not yet been used to its fullest extent but had promise to be of significant benefit to Members who used it.
The Board recommended a number of proposals regarding the DMC Training, which would be fed back to the Planning Development Manager and the Development Manager to consider. These were:
(i) a training scheme for members to sit on the DMC be started before the end of October 2020, in the form of a private virtual meeting whereby all DMC members and standing deputies determine:
a. what should be included in the training scheme;
b. when that training should be undertaken and completed in relation to taking a seat on the DMC; and
c. that the committee also considers expanding the size of the committee during that initial meeting, and reports the outcome of that consideration to Cabinet.
(ii) that a decision regarding a written test is included in discussions as soon as possible before the end of October 2020.