Venue: The Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Dereham
Contact: Democratic Services Tel: 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2023.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2023 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Sarah Taylor. Councillor Cogman was in attendance as her substitute.
Declaration of Interests
The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011. Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.
To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting
To note the names of any non-Members who wish to address the meeting.
The Chairman welcomed Mrs Celia Daniel to the meeting who was in attendance for item 6. Councillor Atterwill was also in attendance for this item.
Councillor Webb was in attendance as the Portfolio Holder for Agenda items 7 and 8.
Report of Rob Walker, Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer.
Members of the Committee had the report and also an additional comprehensive document from Mrs Celia Daniel which had been distributed at the start of the meeting.
Parish meetings were recognized as local government bodies or public authorities for a number of statutory purposes but were not Parish Councils and as such did not have the same range of local authority functions as Parish Councils did and unlike Parish Councils, parish meetings had no inherent power to employ officers.
If a parish meeting wanted to do something that a Parish Council might do, it may ask the District Council to make an order under section 109 of the Local Government Act 1972, to grant the relevant Parish Council powers.
Following a number of temporary minute takers, Hoe & Worthing parish meeting recently brought in a clerk from a neighbouring parish to take minutes at their parish meetings and now wanted to employ a clerk permanently. Before a parish meeting can employ any officer, it must apply to the district for it to confer the appropriate power on the parish meeting.
The Chair invited Mrs Daniel to speak, giving a brief overview of why this had come to the Committee.
Mrs Daniel thanked the Committee for allowing her to address the concerns currently within the parish. She explained that Hoe & Worthing were two characterful and energetic villages, who had needs and concerns which required attention. The electorate was made up of 120 parishioners housed in Hoe and 82 in Worthing, a total of 202 parishioners.
Mrs Daniel asked for guidance and support in addressing two immediate questions:
· The parish urgently needed to employ the part time services of a Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer
· The parish needed to ensure that the parish finances and accounts were accurate and compliant by year-end 5 April 2024.
Mrs Daniel explained in more detail the history behind the reasons that had brought them here before the committee and the issues that they had historically faced, which included the stepping down of the Parish Treasurer. It was felt that they had now reached a point where the parish meeting needed to be held accountable with more openness and transparency, clarity of rules and regulations and accuracy of the parish finances and accounts and asked that the committee consider the above questions and give guidance on the correct way to move forward.
Councillor Taila Taylor asked why the need for two parish meetings per year had increased to seven or eight. Mrs Daniel explained that the number of meetings had increased to seven last year because it had been an exceptional year as it took three meetings for the parish to elect a Chairman. Once it had been agreed for Mrs Daniel to take over as Chairman, August to November was spent assessing the parish needs and addressing the finances.
The Chair stated that the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) minimum Clerk salary spine was £14.21 plus on costs, based on five hours per month it would cost ... view the full minutes text for item 42.
Report of Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services.
Alison Webb, the Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services, presented the report.
The purpose of the report was to provide Members with an update on the Member Induction Programme. Members of the Committee had agreed at the meeting held on 24 November 2022 to allow officers to begin preparations of the Member Induction Programme for delivery in May 2023 and received an update on 9 February 2023. This report now provided feedback.
The future plan was to send out a questionnaire to all Members during Autumn to find out about any prior experience Members may have and their training preferences.
The Chair invited Members to use this forum to give their own feedback on the induction programme and asked for comments on how they felt it went.
Cllr Morton said that as a newly elected Councilor he felt that the induction was very good but that all of the training sessions were held during the day for those who worked this was not the best idea and suggested this be kept in mind for any future training.
Cllr Cogman said that she found the induction programme very interesting and supportive and provided lots of useful information and said that it was good to meet people face to face for discussions. However, she said that they were all held in Dereham and for those who lived further afield this could be an extra burden on time and asked if consideration could be given to hybrid meetings, for example providing training both face to face and via teams.
Rory Ringer, the Democratic Service Manager said that this was something that they were very mindful of and were looking into, the questionnaire has specific questions surrounding this and the recording system had recently been upgraded which would mean that all training sessions could be recorded, and once recorded could be provided on the Members Pages for reference.
The Chair encouraged all Members to complete the questionnaire when invited to do so to give officers a full picture of what Members need and that this was particularly important to move forward so that support could be provided where needed over the elected period.
Cllr Taila Taylor said that she had attended most of the training sessions offered and found that they were very good and provided useful information, however she knew other Members struggled with the timings against work commitments and was pleased to see questions directed to this in the questionnaire to give Members a chance to put their comments forward. She also suggested that she would like to see that the personal safety training be more tailored to personal safety for Members, particularly during surgeries or working out in the community.
Members of the Committee noted the report.
Report of Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services.
Alison Webb, the Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services presented the report on HR Policy Changes to seek decisions on several HR policies that had been updated.
HR policies were reviewed every two to three years and several policies had been reviewed this year which required decisions to be made. Members were asked to agree the following recommendations:
· Reducing pay protection from 3 years to 1 year
· Approve 1 day of volunteer leave per year
· Agree to implement the additional voluntary contribution (AVC) pension scheme
Cllr Cogman had concerns over the reduction in pay protection and asked if this would also be out to consultation with Unison. Natalie King, the Interim HR Manager confirmed that this would be the case and that with any changes to pay, both staff and Unison would always be consulted but felt that it was useful to put before Members first to get a view of their thoughts on any proposed changes.
Cllr Cogman felt that we should still proceed with caution and maybe reduce gradually from 3 years to 2 in the first instance.
Cllr Taila Taylor suggested that with regard to the volunteer leave, it would be good to have a report and feedback after the year on how this had faired, how many had taken the opportunity and if it had been of benefit to the community.
The Chair also felt that feedback to the Committee would be a good idea and reiterated that it should be within the Breckland area.
Natalie King agreed that this would be a good idea and that it would be a positive thing to give feedback to the committee and ensure that this would be put in place.
Following a unanimous vote, it was:
RESOLVED that all three recommendations be approved.
To note the arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 30 November 2023 at 10am in the Anglia Room.
The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 30 November 2023 at 10am in the Anglia Room were noted.