Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Note: This replaces the meeting postponed from 12/6/08 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 May 2008.


The minutes of the meeting held on 8 May 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr. C.R. Jordan, Mr. S.G. Bambridge, Mr. M.J. Griffin and Mrs. P. Quadling.


Member Development and Training - Policy and Strategy (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Report of the Executive Member (Governance).


The appendix “Member Development and Training Strategy” document is to follow.

Additional documents:


The Member Development Team Leader presented the report which sought Members’ views on the new Member Development and Training Policy and the revisions to the Member Development and Training Strategy, previously agreed by the Council in March 2007.


The Council had established a cross-party Member Development Panel in September 2008 to progress work on achieving the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) Charter on Elected Member Development and Training and had signed up to the principles of achieving the Charter by March 2009.  The adoption of the revised Strategy and the new Policy formed an essential part of this process.


The objectives of the Charter were to:


  • Be fully committed to developing Elected Members in order to achieve the Council’s aims and objectives.
  • Adopt the Member-led strategic approach to Elected Member development.
  • Have a Member learning and development plan in place that clearly identified the differences that development activities would make.
  • See that learning and development was effective in building capacity.
  • Address widely development matters to promote work-life balance and citizenship.


The main role of the Member Development Panel was to:


  • Prepare the future Member Development and Training Programme and to identify the best ways of providing this training, including preparing an individual training plan for all Members based on their role on the Council and their identified needs established through the self-assessment questionnaire.

  • Progress work on achieving the Charter.

  • Evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of the training and make changes in the work programme.

  • Share best practice amongst Members.

  • To ensure that the Member Support Action Plan, developed in liaison with the Local Government Information Unit, is progressed and delivered.

  • Develop projects to improve access to local democracy and, in particular, to develop links with local schools and youth groups.

Members were advised that the Council was due to be assessed for Charter status on 4 November 2008.  The inspection would be made over one day and would be carried out by three Inspectors appointed by South East Employers, who would undertake a series of interviews with officers and Members, including the Leader of the Council, representatives of the opposition Groups, the Member Development Panel, and five to eight other Members of the Council, politically balanced and representing a cross-section of Members by experience, as well as the Chief Executive, Member Services Manager and Member Development Team Leader.


The existing Strategy had been updated and enhanced in line with best practice.  The Policy had been formulated in line with the EERA framework and adapted to fit the Council’s needs and was aimed at the provision of development and training for Members, which would be tailored to meet their individual needs and aspirations.


In answer to questions, the following points were noted:


  • The value of the Charter would extend beyond the outcome of the current debate on the Local Government Review.
  • The Government’s evolving modernisation agenda and the requirement to make Members community leaders placed an increasing emphasis on the Council’s approach to enhancing Member development, training and support. 
  • A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Member Training - Personal Development Plans (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Report of the Assistant Director (Governance).


The Member Development Team Leader presented the report, which advised Members of the results of the recent survey on Member Development and the next steps to be taken towards the production of individual development plans and the structuring of the training programme to reflect the needs identified.


To date, 47 out of the 54 Members had returned their Questionnaires, which represented an 87% return.


The general findings of the survey only were given in the report and it was stressed that the individual results would be kept strictly confidential and that they were not eligible for any public or internal scrutiny or Freedom of Information requests etc.


The development plans would be formulated with Members individually according to their stated needs and the training programme structured accordingly to take account of providers, method of provision (e.g. in-house, external, jointly, courses, seminars, timing, etc.) over what period and in light of budget.


The report highlighted those main areas where full training was required and those where some training was needed.  In addition to those, there had been subsequent requests for training in the following areas:


  • How the Council works.
  • The Business Plan and the decision-making process.
  • The relationship with outside bodies/partnerships and how they operate.


Members of the Panel suggested it would be beneficial for the programme to include also the Local Development Framework and that pictorial or graphical illustrations should be included as a useful aid to Members.


The report had also been considered by the Member Development Programme at its meeting on 19 June 2008, when it was agreed to:


(1)   Recognise the key areas of corporate training and development need identified and produce or modify training programmes as appropriate.

(2)   Use evidence from the survey analysis and take account of the personalised part of the questionnaire returns and corporate training needs to produce personal development plans.

(3)   Personal development plans being subject to timings to meet development needs and kept under review.

(4)   The officers recommending how best to provide the training, according to priorities identified individually and corporately, looking at different providers and methods of provision, over what period and in the light of available budget.


RESOLVED that this Panel notes the report and supports the proposals as agreed by the Member Development Panel for the production of individual development plans and the structuring of the training programme to reflect the needs identified.


Action Plan Update - All Members Matter Programme for Breckland District Council (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Assistant Director (Governance).

Additional documents:


The report was presented by the Member Development Team Leader, who outlined the additional progress made to the action plan since the last review in February 2008 of the Council’s All Members Matter Programme.


During consideration of several of the aims in the action plan, the following points were made:


  • The question of pressures of time on Members to be able to respond to the many new initiatives coming forward, to be able to maintain a work-life balance and the volume of reading material being produced by the Council was made.  Members were advised that the officers were looking at these issues.  The facilities being provided were aimed at assisting Members in their roles but it was up to Members if they wished to make use of them.

  • Members were naturally fully active and engaged in their constituency and Council roles which should be recognised and it was felt there should not be any detriment to them if they did not feel the need to take up all of the training or other facilities now being promoted. 

  • So far as Parish Councils were concerned, it was noted there was no obligation on the District Council to provide training for them.  However, the 2008/09 training programme would offer training on Chairmanship.  Standards training had been provided and advice or other specific training was provided by relevant officers on request and this would continue.  Although it was recognised that parishes were being briefed on the site specifics under the LDF, it was suggested parishes could benefit from further advice on the LDF process generally, as it was felt this may not be clearly understood by all.

  • So far as the Breckland Voice magazine was concerned, a member felt the method of delivery should be reviewed so far as blocks of flats were concerned because copies of the magazine at these locations were left in bundles with the communal refuse bins and did not get delivered to the individual occupiers.


RESOLVED that the Panel notes the additional progress made on the Action Plan and the points raised above be taken into account.


Work Programme (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To consider the work programme.


The Member Development Officer presented the updated work programme, which included two new items as follows:


  • Street lighting levy review – Provisionally programmed for 24 July 2008 meeting.
  • Empty homes policy review – Provisionally programmed for 24 July 2008 meeting.


The Panel agreed to suggestions to include the following items in the forward programme for consideration:


  1. Review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).  In the light of concerns raised by the Chairman of the Local Government Association about the over-zealous use of this Act by some authorities, to look at what use, if any, is made of these powers by Breckland Council at the next meeting of the Panel.

  2. Breckland Voice – In view of the concern raised in the previous item about deliveries to blocks of flats, to look at the existing and comparable options for delivery and associated costs.


RESOLVED that the additional items outlined above be incorporated into the work programme for future consideration.


Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting will be held on Thursday, 24th July 2008, at 10.00 a.m. in the Norfolk Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 24 July 2008 were noted.