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Paper 9 -  23 March 2001

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

23 March 2001

MEMBER DEVELOPMENT

Report by the Honorary Secretary in association with the Hampshire Personnel Officers’ Group and the Regional Director of South East Employers

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RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That member authorities consider the Charter for Member Development; and

(2) That Member authorities be asked to endorse the Charter where they have not already done so.

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SUMMARY

The Local Government Association (LGA) has endorsed a Charter for Member Development and is seeking individual authority commitment to the aims of the Charter. This report identifies key elements of the Charter, most of which can be readily agreed, and highlights the resource implications which need to be addressed.

BACKGROUND

1. Local authorities have always invested in staff training and generally carry out induction training for new councillors. The Charter is a recognition that investment in member training is needed to match the new responsibilities envisaged for local authorities in the Government’s recent legislative programme. In 1999, the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) in discussion with some 40 local authorities on their needs and interests in member development, drew up a Charter which was then endorsed by the LGA Executive. The aims were to ensure wider recognition for the contribution that elected members make to society and to encourage more working people to come forward to serve as councillors. These aims are behind a joint presentation planned for the LGA conference in July this year to be given by the IDeA, South East Employers and this Association.

THE CHARTER

2. The Charter asks for commitment from individual local authorities to elected member development by striving towards:

* a member development programme which ensures that members can fulfill their responsibilities to the local community and provide clear leadership and effective scrutiny of local council functions

* all members being made aware of the training and development opportunities available

* an internal process to identify individual needs which involves members

* Individual Learning Accounts for members which provide for a minimum of five days’ training and development each year to meet the vision of the authority

* adequate resources to meet the objectives of the training and development from both internal and external resources

* an assessment of how those with family responsibilities could be assisted in terms of suitable allowances and support

* a willingness to subject the programme to external scrutiny to check its effectiveness and to share information and good practice with other councils and agencies

* an opportunity each year to examine the way the council conducts its business and the commitments placed on elected members so that those with family and work commitments can come forward to serve their community.

IMPLICATIONS

3. According to the IDeA, the Charter is a statement of intent rather than a legal document. The intention is to encourage improvements in the provision of member development and the adoption of best practice. In terms of the provision of development and training, the IDeA encourages a wide definition. Member development and training can include internal briefings, attendance at conferences and externally organised training and development programmes. The intention of the Charter is to promote a debate within each authority of the training and development needs of members. The Charter is deliberately flexible to respond to local needs and interests.

CHARTER SIGNATORIES

4. At this stage, South East Employers report that Isle of Wight and Havant authorities have so far signed the Charter.

MEMBER DEVELOPMENT EVENTS

5. South East Employers have now completed the "Modern Members" programme 2000/2001. Under this training and development programme, ten regional events took place between September 2000 - February 2001. The programme, across four key module areas, attracted over 150 delegates. The four key areas included:

* Ethics and Standards
* Overview and Scrutiny
* Effective Representation
* Best Value.

6. In addition to the regional Modern Members programme, over 15 councils across the region have undertaken one or more modules on an in-house basis. The Isle of Wight was unique in undertaking all four key modules in-house.

7. Regional Employers and the IDeA are currently developing a training programme for 2001/2002. New modules include "Member/Officer Relations" and "Developing Effective Strategic Partnerships". Modern Members 2001/2002 will commence in September and information will be sent to councils from June.

8. South East Employers are continuing to offer a full programme of member development workshops, programmes and learning events - the comprehensive member development directory will be available from May. This will include a range of skills programmes including:-

Chairing Skills

Presentation Skills

Report Writing/Speed Reading

Project Management

Community Engagement

Problem Solving and Decision Making

9. South East Employers are working in partnership with DETR, CBI, IDeA and Reading BC to run a one day Conference on Partnerships - Key Lessons for Excellence (date to be announced).

10. South East Employers are also currently promoting "Working with Emotional Intelligence" with three "Taster" events to look at Emotional Intelligence and Executive Coaching on 22 February at Winchester, 27 February at Horsham and 1 March at Sevenoaks. This approach may be useful for newly formed Cabinets working on the development of an effective team. If there is interest in running a "taster" for HIOW authorities, this can be arranged.

ROBIN SMITH
Honorary Secretary

Date: 6 March 2001
Annex: 0
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiowlang@hants.gov.uk

Last update: 14/03/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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