AGENDA ITEM NO. 3

EXECUTIVE BOARD
19th JANUARY 2015

Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee
Task & Finish Group 2013/14
REVISED REPORT
Review of the Council’s Engagement Mechanisms

Recommendations / Key decisions required:

    ● That consideration be given to the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee Task & Finish Group’s recommendations, which are outlined within the executive summary and the attached report.

    ● That consideration also be given to the additional recommendation agreed by the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on the 25th July 2014:

    “To increase public engagement in the Council’s decision making process, the Executive Board be requested to consider providing a 15 minute slot at the start of all Executive Board and Executive Board Member decision meetings to afford members of the public and Councillors an opportunity to raise questions / make comments on any agenda item before decisions are made.”

    That these recommendations are considered in conjunction with the recent WLGA Corporate Governance report.

Reasons:

    ● At its meeting on the 25th July 2014 the Committee endorsed the Policy & Resources Task & Finish Group’s report for consideration by the Executive Board.

    ● Following this meeting the Group received additional information and has updated its report in light of this information.

Relevant scrutiny committee consulted: Scrutiny committee and date:

Yes
Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee – 25th July and 24th November 2014

Executive Board Decision Required:
Council Decision Required:

Yes
N/A

Executive Board Member Portfolio Holder:
Cllr. Pam Palmer (Community Champion, Customer Focus & Policy)

Chair of the Task & Finish Group:
Cllr. Glynog Davies

Report Author:
Cheryl Reynolds

Designations:

Chair of the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Group

Senior Consultant

Tel Nos. / E-Mail Addresses:

01267 224028 gldavies@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

01267 246145
careynolds@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE BOARD
19th JANUARY 2015

Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee
Task & Finish Group 2013/14
REVISED REPORT

Review of the Council’s Engagement Mechanisms

1.0 Background

In October 2013, the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee agreed to establish a Task & Finish Group to undertake a review designed to establish the effectiveness of the consultation and engagement mechanisms that are in place within the Council.

The Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee endorsed the final report for consideration by the Executive Board at its meeting on the 25th July 2014 and also agreed an additional recommendation:

    “To increase public engagement in the Council’s decision making process, the Executive Board be requested to consider providing a 15 minute slot at the start of all Executive Board and Executive Board Member decision meetings to afford members of the public and Councillors an opportunity to raise questions / make comments on any agenda item before decisions are made”.

Since the Scrutiny Committee meeting in July, the task and finish group has considered additional information relating specifically to Section 3.6 of the final report “Communication with Elected Members”, which the Scrutiny Committee considered at its meeting on the 24th November 2014.

It should be noted that at the start of the review the Group posed itself some key questions, including:

“How do we ensure Local Elected Members are consulted and kept up to speed about local projects, issues and developments?”

To assist with answering this question the Group (during the course of the review):

    ● Considered the existing Council’s Protocol for Communications with Elected Members (Part 5.6 of the Council’s Constitution)
    ● Reflected on current working practices
    ● Discussed own personal experiences

The additional information has been provided by officers of the Democratic Services Team, which relates primarily to minutes of the Executive Board and Executive Board Member Decision Making Meetings.

For details of the revisions please refer to:

    ● Paragraphs 3.6.2.2 and 3.6.2.3 of the attached report
    ● Recommendation 4.12
    ● Appendix 5a (for a list of the additional officers interviewed)

2.0 Recommendations

    1. Ensure Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) are completed before decisions are taken and that the quality is of a high standard - Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy and People Management & Performance).

    2. As a Council formally endorse Participation Cymru’s 10 Principles for Public Engagement - Executive Board / Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    3. Develop a Corporate Consultation & Engagement Strategy that embraces the principles of Participation Cymru’s 10 Principles for Public Engagement – Executive Board / Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    4. Further develop the use of Social Media by the Council in capturing the public’s views on issues – Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    5. Develop a Social Media training programme for Elected Members – Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy and People Management & Performance).

    6. Ensure the review of the Press & Media Protocol examines the use of Carmarthenshire News as a tool for providing information and obtaining views of the public – Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    7. Use the Local Service Board framework to improve ways in which the Council and its partners engage with communities collaboratively – Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    8. Explore options for improving cross boundary working in relation to i-Local – Assistant Chief Executive (Customer Focus & Policy).

    9. Undertake an exercise to better understand why officers are not complying with key elements of Protocol for Communication with Elected Members, with a view to improving working practices – Head of Administration & Law.

    10. Communicate and clarify the purpose of Preliminary Executive Board meetings – Executive Board.

    11. Ensure minutes for Executive Board and Executive Board Member decision meetings provide enough information so that, when read in conjunction with coversheets and reports, the rationale for decisions is transparent – Head of Administration & Law.

    12. Improve report cover sheet completion for all Committees – Head of Administration & Law / Assistant Chief Executive People Management & Performance / All Report Authors).

    13. Establish an Elected Member Group to review the Council’s Constitution ensuring the Scrutiny Call-In procedure is revised – Head of Administration & Law.

    14. Improve the public’s understanding, awareness and engagement in scrutiny by:

    a) Further developing the Council’s Scrutiny web pages and scrutiny related literature – Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance).

    b) Using the established Corporate Engagement Framework to raise awareness of the role of scrutiny and the options for getting involved e.g. Citizen Panel and 50+ Forum – Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance).

    c) Adopting Participation Cymru’s 10 Principles for Public Engagement – Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance).

    d) Identifying and learning from good practice and models via the regional scrutiny networks – Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance).

The Group would, once again, like to thank all those who gave up their time to contribute to the work of the review team.

DETAILED REPORT ATTACHED?

YES

IMPLICATIONS

I confirm that other than those implications which have been agreed with the appropriate Directors / Heads of Service and are referred to in detail below, there are no other implications associated with this report.

Signed: Paul R. Thomas Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance)

Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

Legal

Finance

ICT

Risk Management Issues

Staffing Implications

Physical Assets

YES

NONE

YES

YES

YES

YES

NONE

1. Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

The recommendations within this report are in line with Welsh Government Policy and Guidance. The development of a Corporate Consultation & Engagement Strategy will be in line with current national and local policy.

3. Finance

Improving the public’s understanding, awareness and engagement in scrutiny activity will have cost implications. These costs will be met via the bid from the Scrutiny Development Fund. The total cost is yet to be established.

4. ICT

There are implications in terms of developing the new Council Website and i-local, which have already been accounted for by the relevant project teams.

5. Risk Management Issues

The review has identified some risks in terms of not addressing some of the issues raised within the report. These include reputational and financial risks to the Authority.

6. Staffing Implications

There are learning and development implications arising from this report namely:

    ● Staff will require further training on cover sheet completion
    ● Staff will require support to complete Equality Impact Assessments effectively
    ● Elected Members will require further development in relation to the safe use of social media

CONSULTATIONS

I confirm that the appropriate consultations have taken in place and the outcomes are as detailed below:

Signed: Paul R. Thomas Assistant Chief Executive (People Management & Performance)

    1. Scrutiny Committee – The Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee considered the revised report at its meeting on the 24th November 2014 and UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the revised Task and Finish Group report be endorsed and that its recommendations be considered in conjunction with the recent WLGA Corporate Governance report.

    2. Local Member(s) – N/A

    3. Community / Town Council – N/A

    4. Relevant Partners – N/A

    5. Staff Side Representatives and other Organisations – Officers from various departments and services contributed to and supported the work of the Task & Finish Group.

Section 100D Local Government Act, 1972 – Access to Information
List of Background Papers used in the preparation of this report:

THESE ARE DETAILED BELOW:

Title of Document

File Ref No. / Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

P&R Task and Finish Group Revised Report – P&R Scrutiny Committee (24th November 2014)

Report: http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20141124/REP07.HTM

Minutes: http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20141124/index.asp

P&R Task and Finish Group Final Report – P&R Scrutiny Committee (25th July 2014)

Report: http://arlein.sirgar.gov.uk/agendas/cym/POAD20140725/REP04.pdf

Minutes: http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20140725/MINUTES.HTM

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Annual Report 2013/14 & Improvement Plan 2014/15

http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/EXEB20140630/REP07.HTM

Welsh Government Draft Children’s Rights Scheme 2014 (April 2014)

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/childrenandyoungpeople/childrens-rights-scheme-2014/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/childrenandyoungpeople/childrens-rights-scheme-2014/?lang=en

Title of Document

File Ref No. / Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

Good Scrutiny? Good Question! – Auditor General for Wales improvement study: Scrutiny in Local Government (May 2014)

Datganiad i’r Wasg Cymraeg: http://www.wao.gov.uk/cy/newyddion/cynghorau-cymru-yn-heriou-hunain-yn-well-ond-angen-mwy-o-gysondeb-er-mwyn-gwella

Adroddiad Cymraeg: http://www.wao.gov.uk/cy/system/files/publications/WAO_Scrutiny_Report_Welsh_2014.pdf

English Press Release:
http://www.wao.gov.uk/news/welsh-councils-getting-better-challenging-themselves-more-consistency-needed-improve

English Report:
http://www.wao.gov.uk/system/files/publications/WAO_Scrutiny_Report_English_2014.pdf

The report of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery (2014)

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/public-service-governance-and-delivery/report/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/public-service-governance-and-delivery/report/?lang=en

National Survey for Wales 2013/14

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/nationals-survey/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/nationals-survey/?lang=en

Carmarthenshire County Council Social Media Policy

http://hafnium/Chiefexecutives/Communications/corporatewebteam

Please note that this is an internal document only and the above link is for the Council’s internal intranet system

Statutory Guidance from the Local Government Measure 2011 (June 2012)

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/localgovernment/publications/statguide/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/localgovernment/publications/statguide/?lang=en

National Principles for Public Engagement – Participation Cymru (2011)

Cymraeg: http://www.participationcymru.org.uk/national-principles?seq.lang=cy-GB

English: http://www.participationcymru.org.uk/national-principles

Better Outcomes
for Tougher Times:
The Next Phase of Public
Service Improvement – Welsh Assembly Government (December 2009)

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/betteroutcomes/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/betteroutcomes/?lang=en

Title of Document

File Ref No. / Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

Strengthening Communities: A Guide to Capacity Building for Communities and the Public Sector by Steve Skinner (2006)

Book – not available online

Making the Connections – Delivering Beyond Boundaries: Transforming Public Services in Wales – Welsh Assembly Government (November 2006)

Cymraeg: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/deliveringbb/?skip=1&lang=cy

English: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/deliveringbb/?lang=en

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990)

http://www.unicef.org.uk/Documents/Publication-pdfs/UNCRC_PRESS200910web.pdf

Draft Task & Finish Group Planning and Scoping Document – P&R Scrutiny Committee (7th October 2013)

Draft Planning and Scoping Document:
http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20131007/REP08.HTM

Minutes:
http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20131007/MINUTES.HTM

P&R Scrutiny Committee Forward Work Programme 2013/14 Report – P&R Scrutiny Committee (29th May 2013)

Report:
http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20130529/REP05.HTM

Minutes:
http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/POLI20130529/MINUTES.HTM