PROPOSALS FOR MEMBERS TO ADOPT NEW WAYS OF WORKING
To consider a report on the proposals generated by the work of the Members’ New Ways of Working Task & Finish Group, and which are intended to apply to the new Council following the elections in May 2022 (copy attached).
The Head of HR, Legal and Democratic Services (HHRLDS) introduced the report (previously circulated). He offered his apologies for the confusion with the appendices related to the agenda item.
The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets was in attendance for the item. He confirmed that a working group had been established to review and discuss new ways of working. It was confirmed that the working group had met on the 19th October 2021 and had agreed the recommendations put to members in the report.
It was stressed the proposals set by the working group had been put forward to assist the hybrid meeting set up and enable members to access meetings remotely if they wished to do so. The proposal had been to provide every member with two pieces of technology, a laptop and a large screened mobile phone. The working group had decided not to issue members with an IPad.
The Lead Member stressed the changes to technology used would be following the next elections and ICT training would be provided to all members.
The HHRLDS confirmed to members that current law enforced local authorities to have provision for members to attend meetings remotely. The majority of public meetings were now being held remotely with the meeting being live streamed via the council webcast. This allowed the public and press to observe the meeting. Members were reminded the standard meeting structure would still apply, with members still required to state any declarations and part 2 documents remaining confidential. Members were guided through the general principles and protocols proposed.
The Head of Business, Improvement and Modernisation (HBIM), confirmed training to members would be provided on the new technology. He stressed the importance of having technology equipped to allow members more access and ease when attending meetings virtually. ICT staff would be available to offer support and guidance to members. He congratulated members on the quick learning they had completed during the pandemic to allow for meetings to continue.
The Chair thanked the officers for the support he had received, setting up his devices to enable him to work from home.
Members thanked the Lead Member and officers for the information provided, during the discussion the following points were raised:
· The Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) encouraged members to use the provision for claiming expenses including the facility of childcare. If members had receipts for expenses, then claims could be made to support members to attend meetings.
· Officers and the working group would look at options for members on an individual basis and aid the set up for members with the technology they required to access meetings from remote locations.
· Remote meetings still required a level of formality and decorum. The facility of blurred backgrounds could be adopted by members to add privacy. It was confirmed space would be made available in council buildings for members to use to attend meetings. Currently it was only the Council Chamber in County Hall, Ruthin that was technically set up to support hybrid meetings.
· The use of hybrid/ remote meetings may not be suitable for all meetings. For some meetings not administrated by Democratic Services such as adoption panel it may not be feasible to hold a remote meeting.
· Members understood the need to record meetings, it was requested that members be made aware when meetings where to be recorded.
· The new mobile device could be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot if needed.
· The poll function on Zoom was available to use if required. It was note that the function had been used a number of times to hold decision making votes. Voting by roll call can be time consuming but it made clear how members wished to cast votes.
· Health and Safety of members and officers was a concern. Members and officers had been encouraged to discuss any concerns with others. Support and guidance would be provided for all if any issues arose. The choice to work remotely was hoped to provide more flexibility for members to choose where they attend meetings from.
· The HBIM confirmed he would look into the licencing rights of PDF to allow members to add notes to documents on devices.
· Members could add ‘Councillor’ or ‘Cllr’ to name on Zoom to clearly show any public viewers who they are.
· Members suggested the wording in the Hybrid Protocol section 3.6 (appendix2) be amended from ‘ensure’ to read ‘best endeavours’.
· All council building including libraries would be reviewed to see if they could be offered as a place to connect to a meeting.
The Chair thanked the Lead Member and Officers for the detailed response to members questions and concerns and wanted to thank the ICT team for the support and guidance it had provided to all members during the changes resulting from the changes to remote working. Members wanted to praise the work from the working group.
· Members note the contents of the report and attached appendices;
· Members agree to the recommendations included in the report with the amendment to the hybrid protocol (3.6) reading ‘best endeavours’ and
· A section be included to ensure members are aware of meetings that are recorded.
- NWOW report to Democratic Services Nov 21, item 5. PDF 215 KB
- Appendix 1 NWoW 1a, item 5. PDF 104 KB
- PROTOCOL Hybrid October 2021_V3, item 5. PDF 124 KB