Provisional Member Induction and Training Programme
To introduce the Committee to the Provisional Member Induction and Training Programme.
To ask the Committee to approve the Provisional Member Induction and Training Programme.
Andrew Brown, Business Manager for Democratic Services, introduced the Provisional Member Induction and Training Programme.
The report presented two main topics:
- An outline of the Member Induction and Training plan for May and beyond. The plan was still in production stage, so this was a good opportunity for input from Members to see if there was anything missing from the programme, feedback from the Committee would be useful, dates still needed to be put against training sessions;
- The report presented recommendations from a recent Standards Sub-Committee meeting – a Sub-Committee of the Audit and Governance Committee. The Sub-Committee had recommended that training is mandatory for Members on the use of social media and on equality and diversity awareness. These were recommended as being undertaken regularly, which had been interpreted in the report as meaning at least once in a Member’s term of office, within 6 months of their election.
Linked to this was Code of Conduct training, which the report recommended should also be mandatory. Therefore Members were asked to consider if they wanted these training sessions to be mandatory and what timeline they think it should be conducted in. It was suggested that regular reports be submitted to this Committee, which would name any Members who had not attended training that was classed as mandatory.
The report recommended an amendment to the Constitution to reflect any requirements around mandatory training that the Committee agreed to.
Councillor Richard Langridge opened the debate, stating that he agreed with the vast majority of the report, describing it as ‘very sensible and reasonable’, although one aspect he could not agree with was the idea of “mandatory training”, with sanctions and reports. Councillor Langridge had no problem with being strongly encouraged to attend training, and if there were no reporting or sanctions, he would support the report.
Councillor Norman MacRae MBE agreed training was vital, but thought 6 months was too long as he had sat on the Standards Sub-Committee, and social media was something new Members needed to be aware of as soon as possible.
Councillor Michele Mead did not agree that a list should come to this Committee which would then be available to the public, but suggested a list could go to group leaders. Page 11 point 2.4 of the report stated that the Council was going to spend £2,000 on external training for the equality and diversity training. Councillor Mead understood that this training already occurred for Publica staff and queried if this same module could be used for the Members training. Once in a four year term should be enough unless the world radically changed.
Councillor Ruth Smith agreed with the once in a 4 year term, and disagreed with a list coming to the Committee if training had not been completed, but suggested that Members’ training records could be made available online. The public would know who had taken the training too, which she thought was very important. Councillor Smith also stated that she had sat on the Standards Sub-Committee too and perhaps the use of mandatory training was a bit strong, and on reflection she agreed that “strongly encourage” may be a better fit. Although the training may be available to watch, Councillor Smith suggested that the facilitator of the training would be a big part of it, and interactive training was important. Equally online training could support the overall training plan.
Councillor Andrew Prosser stated that flexibility in dates to attend training is important. If Members were posting on social media it could have legal implications for the Council, just as planning decisions may have legal implications.
The Chief Finance Officer suggested that Members were reacting largely to the word “mandatory”, it was important to have training and as part of the role of being a Councillor.
Councillor Owen Collins agreed that groups should provide buddying arrangements for new members which would be very useful and a list of contact email addresses.
Councillor Elizabeth Poskitt agreed on reflection that perhaps the recommendation of mandatory was harsh, adding there could be many circumstances why a Member may not have completed a training element. Perhaps if a Member persistently did not attend training it could be reported to their group leader. Councillor Poskitt also sat on the same Sub-Committee and agreed the social media training was vitally important. It was noted as a concern that perhaps Councillors who did not attend the training, were the ones most likely to need the training.
Councillor Langridge clearly agreed that Councillor training was very important, and if it were strongly encouraged that would be enough. Councillors were not comfortable with the word mandatory.
Councillor Colin Dingwall stated that a contact list of Officers’ names, telephone numbers and the job titles would be of help to new Members, and that is was also it was important for Members to know what statutory obligations the Council has.
The Democratic Services Business Manager noted that the Committee had been clear that the word mandatory was an issue. The recommendations were designed to be helpful, and to reduce the number of Code of Conduct complaints. He suggested that based on the discussion the committee may wish to:
- Change mandatory to strongly encourage in recommendation 2;
- Eliminate recommendations 3 and 4.
The Democratic Services Business Manager also responded to a number of points that had been raised in debate, stating that:
- In practice the training would normally be delivered within 3 months of local elections;
- Lists could be sent to group leaders of those Members not attending training;
- Officers would look at the cost of training and see if there was anything internally that could be used;
- Officers would aim to offer a choice of dates and start times for training sessions that were strongly encouraged;
- A list of officer contacts would be included in the welcome packs issued to all new and returning Councillors.
Councillor Mead disagreed with the suggestion in the report that a Democratic Services Officer be allocated as a ‘Buddy’ to each political group.
Councillor Poskitt proposed to note the draft training and induction programme and approve that training on equality and diversity awareness, the use of social media, and the Members’ Code of Conduct are strongly encouraged for all Councillors, and should be undertaken at least once in a Members term of office, within six months of their election. Councillor Poskitt also proposed to approve the Member Induction and Training Programme, subject to replacing the word mandatory with strongly encourage, and remove points 3 & 4. This was seconded by Councillor MacRae MBE and was put to a vote. The vote carried.
Committee Resolved to:
1. Note the draft training and induction programme;
2. Agree that training on equality and diversity awareness, the use of social media, and the Members’ Code of Conduct are strongly encouraged for all councillors and should be undertaken at least once in a councillor’s term of office, within six months of their election;
3. To remove recommendations 3 &4.
- DRAFT Member Training report v0.1, item 33. PDF 74 KB
- Annex A - DRAFT WODC Member Induction Programme 2023, item 33. PDF 57 KB