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Paper 4 - 27 November 1998 Meeting 

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Friday 27 November 1998

SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS

Report of Honorary Secretary

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That Eastleigh's offer to continue to provide accommodation, financial systems and related support for the Association be accepted.

(2) That whenever possible the Association's Honorary Secretary should be the Chief Executive of the Chair's Council.

(3) That, reflecting (1) and (2), section 5.11 of the Association's constitution be amended as set out in paragraph 22.

(4) That Association staff contracts of employment be revised from 1 December 1998 as set out in paragraphs 24 to 31.

SUMMARY

The Chief Executives' Group has reviewed the Association's arrangements in the light of operational experience.

This report seeks agreement to the Group's proposals.

BACKGROUND

1. The Association's support arrangements were initially set up in 1997, mainly based on the assumption that responsibilities for support would follow the Honorary Secretaryship.

2. The terms of employment for staff, and in particular salaries, reflected initial assessments.

3. The initial arrangements for both support and staff end in May 1999. The Chief Executives' Group has reviewed the arrangements in respect of -

* Accommodation
* Financial support
* Honorary Secretary
* Staff contracts of employment

4. This report sets out the Group's proposals for future arrangements.

ACCOMMODATION

5. Accommodation/employment support and office facilities for the Association's staff are currently provided by Eastleigh on a cost reimbursement basis. The constitution envisages that over time the provision of accommodation and related support facilities would follow the Honorary Secretaryship. At the time the Association was set up Havant offered to take on these roles for two years with effect from June 1999.

6. One significant implication of this arrangement is that the Association, and in particular its staff, would face workplace relocation on a regular basis. This would be disruptive at least on a personal basis for the staff and might well prompt some staff loss because of travelling difficulties to a new location. Changes in contact address, telephone, fax and e-mail details would have transitional adverse impact. In summary, the change would be potentially disruptive to the Association's work and its good management.

7. Reflecting on this Eastleigh has offered to continue to provide accommodation and related support to the Association on a longer-term basis.

FINANCIAL SYSTEMS

8. With Eastleigh's initial lead council role came responsibility for setting up the Association's financial systems. Whilst this initial work, including VAT registration was substantial, the on-going work now the systems are in place is not significant.

9. However, the Association's systems have been closely based on Eastleigh's own financial systems. The transfer of responsibility for this aspect of the Association's support might well necessitate some changes in the system to provide a better fit with that of a new lead council.

10. Reflecting this, were Eastleigh to continue to provide accommodation support services, it has also offered to continue to provide the financial systems support on a longer-term basis.

HONORARY SECRETARY

11. With the decision to appoint a Policy Officer, rather than an Association Manager, came the related decision to ask one of the member council Chief Executives to be Honorary Secretary. Again it was informally envisaged that the role would be a relatively short-term one - probably for two years. On that basis the current honorary Secretary's term would end at the AGM in June 1999.

12. In practice, reflecting the very effective way in which Nick Goulder has taken on the Policy Officer responsibilities, the workload of Honorary Secretary has not been as time intrusive as was originally anticipated.

13. Whilst there are clearly some advantages in Association staff and Honorary Secretary being co-located, those advantages are significantly less than the disadvantages of relocating Association staff on a regular basis, as discussed above. The disadvantages of separate location of staff and Honorary Secretary are able to be worked around without too much difficulty.

14. A possible long-term approach would be for the role, wherever possible, to be undertaken by the Chief Executive of the Council on which the HIOW Chair serves.

15. With the Honorary Secretary's role has come responsibility for his (or her) Council to provide Committee Secretary support on a reimbursement basis. Eastleigh currently provides the equivalent of five hours a week such support.

16. Robin Smith (Havant) has already indicated a willingness to take on the Honorary Secretary's role from June 1999.

SUPPORT OPTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION

17. Pulling these aspects together, the Chief Executives' Group considered three options -

Option 1 - Continue with the initial concept. Lead council responsibilities for accommodation, financial systems and Honorary Secretary support would transfer every two years, with Havant covering the period June 1999 to May 2001.

Option 2 - Continue the current arrangement with Eastleigh providing accommodation, financial systems and Honorary Secretary support.

Option 3 - Eastleigh continues to provide accommodation and financial systems support, and the role of Honorary Secretary is passed on every two years either to (a) a volunteer Chief Executive or (b) the Chief Executive of the HIOW Chair's Council.

18. The Group considered these options in the light of both Eastleigh's offers and the indication that Havant was keen to take over the full range of Honorary Secretary and support functions from June 1999. Havant's 1997 commitment, to follow that of Eastleigh, gave substantial stability to the Association as it was set up, and was greatly appreciated by the Group.

19. The Group has concluded that Option 3 is much to be preferred. Hence the Group recommends that -

(a) Accommodation/Financial Systems/Related Support - should continue to be provided by Eastleigh on a cost reimbursement basis.

(b) Honorary Secretary - the role should pass every two years (next in June 1999), preferably to the Chief Executive of the Council of the Association's Chair (or to a volunteer Chief Executive if this is not possible).

(c) Committee Secretary Support - should normally be provided by the Honorary Secretary's Council.

CONSTITUTION

20. If the Group's recommendations are accepted there would need to be a consequential amendment to the Association's Constitution.

21. Section 5.11 states -

"The authority providing the Honorary Secretary shall be deemed to be the lead authority for the Association and it will also provide appropriate office accommodation, employment support and shared use of office facilities for the Association's staff. Reimbursement will be made to that lead authority in respect of costs arising from acting in this capacity".

22. This section would be appropriately amended to state -

"Any authority or authorities from time to time providing accommodation, financial systems, committee secretary or other related support to the Association should be reimbursed for the costs of providing that support".

STAFF CONTRACTS

23. The Association's two members of staff were initially employed on two year fixed term contracts. Both contracts expire at the end of May 1999. The Chief Executives' Group has addressed a number of issues arising from this.

24. Nature of Future Contracts - The initial contracts were fixed term ones, to give the Association flexibility as it evolved, and in particular reflected a degree of early uncertainly about membership commitment. The main options are -

* to continue with a fixed term contract approach, possibly on the basis of rolling review; or
* to switch to a more normal running contract approach.

The second of these options is most likely to be the more attractive for the retention/recruitment of good staff for the Association on a long-term basis, and would be appropriate provided we have confidence in the Association's future.

25. The Group recommend that the staff be employed on a running contract basis.

26. Salary - The initial salary levels for the two posts were not set on any analytical job evaluation basis - but rather on a broad feel for what the Association could afford given the financial uncertainties in its first year. Those levels have been increased by 3% from June 1998. Now that we have more than a year's experience of the Association in action, the Chief Executives' Group considers it would be appropriate to evaluate both posts in the light of the work each now covers. The job evaluation systems of two Councils (Eastleigh and Havant) have been applied to the Policy Officer's post, then averaged, with the following outcome -

Current salary 30,900. Average evaluation - 32,556 to 36,072. Scale points - 32,556/33,720/34,896/36,072.

27. The Secretary/Administrator's post has been evaluated under the Eastleigh system. Current salary 10,300 (25 hours a week) equivalent to 15,250 on full-time basis. Average evaluation - 9,972 to 10,848 (25 hours a week) - equivalent to 14,754 to 16,053 on full-time basis. Scale points on 25 week basis - 9,972/10,260/10,560/10,848.

28. The Group recommends that those evaluated salary levels be implemented, and reflecting the nature of the job that the title of Policy Officer become Policy Manager.

29. Annual Review - For 1998/99 following consultation with all member council Chief Executives, the single point salary levels of the staff were increased from 1 June 1998 in line with the outcome of national negotiations. It would be appropriate to formalise this.

30. Accordingly the Group recommends that the salaries of Association staff be reviewed each year with effect from 1 June and that, subject to satisfactory performance the levels be increased in line with -

(a) Policy Manager - the average outcome level of the national JNC negotiations for local government chief officers (note - that increase would normally apply from 1 July - but is proposed to be brought forward to coincide with the Association's financial year); and

(b) Secretary/Administrator - the outcome level, for posts of equivalent (full-time-related) salary, of the national NJC negotiations for local government service.

31. Implementation - Subject to decisions on the various staff contract issues, the Group recommends that it would be appropriate to implement new contractual arrangements, including any evaluated salary, from 1 December 1998. In this context it is proposed that the staff should be assimilated on their grades as follows -

Policy Manager - On to second point (33,720) on the basis that he is in his second year of employment in the post.

Secretary/Administrator - On her current level of 10,300, which is marginally above the second point.

Both would move to the third point of their respective scales (subject to satisfactory performance) on 1 June 1999.

CHRIS TAPP
Honorary Secretary/For Chief Executives' Group

Last update: 21/01/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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