Report of the Service Manager – Corporate Services
The Service Manager Corporate Services presented her report providing an update on Councillor Training.
The Service Manager Corporate Services explained that the report formed part of a twice yearly update to the Group and set out the current position of training completed by Members, including for the mandatory training sessions such as licencing and planning which had now been completed. She explained that due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen, Risk Management Training had been rearranged and that that, along with Code of Conduct and Treasury Management Training, were scheduled to take place shortly.
The Group was informed that Single Sign-On for e-learning had been trialled and following the successful demonstration with Members of the Group at the start of this meeting, it was planned to now roll this out to all Councillors. The Single Sign-On link could be found on the front page of the Members Intranet and Councillors simply needed to click on the link to take them directly to their e-learning account where all available training would be listed.
The Service Manager Corporate Services explained that the aim of the Single Sign-On was to make it easier for Councillors to access training and for it to act as a reminder of what had been completed and what was outstanding. The system would also send notification emails to Members to let them know of e-learning courses that they were due to complete, with a link taking them to their e-leaning account. She asked for Members to report any difficulties experienced and highlighted that the alternative to e-learning would be in-person training which had cost and time commitments. She said that the Council would circulate individual training records to all Members shortly.
The Chairman referred to anecdotal feedback from Councillors that they had previously had difficulty finding the training system and therefore thought that the Single Sign-On access, with the reminder system, would be a great help, particularly for training which required regular refreshment such as GDPR. The Chairman encouraged Members of the Group to feed this back to Councillor colleagues to hopefully lead to an increase in training completed.
In relation to brining in sanctions for uncompleted training, Members of the Group thought that this wouldn’t be necessary and suggested that it could be more for Chairs and Vice Chairs to encourage uptake for their relevant Committee members. The Group also hoped that the Single Sign-on in itself would help with completion rates.
Councillor J Wheeler suggested that Councillors not be allowed to sit on committees until they had completed the training required for that committee and highlighted the importance of mandatory training, such as GDPR for accessing emails, as potentially something that the Information Commissioner would look at if there were a data breach. He suggested that election candidates be pre-notified that completion of basic and mandatory training would be required of them if elected as a Councillor next year.
In relation to training completed elsewhere, including at the County Council and through employers and external organisations, Members of the Group asked whether this would count towards their Borough Council training record. The Service Manager Corporate Services confirmed that it could as some training was universal, such as GDPR, and said that Members just needed to provide certification of completion. She explained that the Borough Council was working with the County Council to share training information, and whilst there were differences in some training which meant that they needed to be completed separately at both organisations, such as for planning, much would be transferrable.
Councillor Williams referred to training completed externally and noted that it may have differences in content to that of the Council. The Service Manager Corporate Services agreed but said that the Council took a pragmatic approach in trusting that external training resulting in a certificate would be at a sufficiently high level to cover necessary information.
The Chairman thought that good engagement in training meant that Councillors completed the minimum level required for the committees on which they sat, and then progressed to complete training on other useful topics and for other committees, for example planning training was useful for engagement with residents and commenting on applications.
Councillor Williams asked whether external training would also feed into the e-learning system to show as completed there so as not to trigger reminders. He also questioned whether display screen equipment training was essential for Councillors as they often did not sit at a desk for long periods of time.
Councillor Williams asked whether external training completed but not specified in the Council’s list of courses could be recognised and listed in Councillor’s training records, such as CPR training. The Chairman confirmed that the Council did recognise external training certificates.
Councillor Jeffreys referred to changes in language and said that it would be helpful to have guidance about the appropriateness and inappropriateness of some words, so as not to cause offence. The Service Manager Corporate Services confirmed that inclusive language guidance for officers was currently being prepared, which would be used to create a guide for Councillors. The Council was looking at providing more involved equality and diversity training and also to incorporate information into the Councillor induction training about public speaking and making speeches.
The Chairman referred also to Local Government speak and the use of acronyms which were not always readily understood by residents. He agreed that the connotations of language needed to be understood, including how to address people and Committee Chairs as people had differing preferences.
Members of the Group thought that training courses needed to be delivered with passion to keep people engaged.
The Chairman asked that Members of the Group contact Officers if they had any additional feedback following the meeting.
It was RESOLVED that the Member Development Group:
a) discussed the information provided by officers in relation to Councillor Learning and Development
b) suggested any actions or ideas they may have in relation to Councillor Learning and Development which would address the concerns raised by officers through the report.