Agenda item

Developing Stronger Communities (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.


The Community Development Manager presented the report which sought approval to increase the establishment by one full time equivalent to appoint an apprentice on a two year, fixed term contract.


There were two pots of unallocated money which were left over from previous funding bids.  The funding bodies no longer existed and Norfolk County Council had confirmed that they did not want the money back, but the original grant conditions still applied and so the money had to be spent on similar projects.


It was proposed that the apprentice would be based in the Communities team initially and would then move to the Marketing & Communications team.  There was money available to fund the post and any additional training or equipment that might be required.


Councillor Bambridge suggested that the money might be better spent more generally within the Council, but it was pointed out that the original grants had been for projects aimed at getting people into work or up-skilling and improving communications with community groups.


The Executive Member for Community & Environmental Services reminded Members of a scheme run by the Pride Officer which had given temporary employment to a group of out-of-work people.  One of whom was now a permanent employee of the Council.  She said that she had discussed the proposals at length with the Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Performance, Development & Public Protection and also with the Interim Communications Team Leader.


Councillor Bambridge asked if the money would be better spent in the community supporting many young people rather than just one.

The Community Services Manager considered that the apprenticeship post would provide more sustainable value for the money than running a series of workshops for example.  She also confirmed that there would be no additional costs to the Council.


Councillor Williams noted that during the discussions by the LJCC he had raised concerns about the apprentice representing the Council in the community and stressed the need for training to protect the Council’s reputation.


It was confirmed that the apprentice would be managed by the Communities team and mentored and trained as any other member of staff on the Council’s policies and procedures.  The job would be mainly office based and any information for distribution to community groups or to be placed on the Council’s website would be checked by senior officers before being released.  


Councillor Steward was committed to apprenticeships and for transparency she mentioned her involvement in Getting Kids into Apprenticeships.  She wanted assurance that the apprentice would end up with a good qualification.


The Community Development Manager confirmed that it was intended that the apprentice would get a recognised qualification.  It was proposed to work with Norwich City College, but there were other colleges that might have appropriate courses.  There were discussions underway to improve the Council’s digital communications and the apprentice might need additional training to become involved in that project if it progressed.


Councillor Clark thought it was a great initiative and asked whether the basic salary should be higher.


The HR Manager advised that the amount was the National Rate for apprenticeships.


Councillor Carter was fully in favour of the proposal and pleased that the employment would be worthwhile and Councillor Borrett also heartily endorsed it as a very positive step.


The Executive Member for Community & Environmental Services noted that as the Council no longer had the Voice magazine most of its publicity came from community based projects and the post would enhance the Council’s integration with community groups.


RESOLVED that the establishment be increased by 1FTE and the appointment of an apprentice on a two year fixed term contract, to support marketing and communication activity on Developing Stronger Communities and Pride in Breckland, be approved.


Supporting documents: