To consider feedback on the 2019/20 Member Learning and Development programme and lessons learnt from the Be a Councillor Campaign.
The Head of Legal and Governance presented to the Committee. The Member Learning and Development Programme had consisted of 32 sessions delivered between May and December 2019. It consisted of an induction day on Saturday 11 May 2019, and two comprehensive phases of training, which included Planning, Financial Scrutiny, Member/Officer relations and Chairing skills. Where attendance was mandatory, (Planning and Code of Conduct) more than 87% of Members attended. However, where attendance was optional, 35% of Members attended. The average attendance for sessions aimed at specific Committees, with optional attendance, was 45%. 92% of those that attended were either satisfied or very satisfied that the training session they attended met its objectives and that the sessions had helped them understand their role and responsibilities.
A ‘be a councillor’ campaign had been delivered between July and September 2018, in preparation for the May 2019 election. The aim of the campaign was to encourage a more diverse range of people to stand to be Councillors to ensure the council better reflected the demographics of the Borough. The campaign was successful and had started to change the gender demographic from 17.6% of Councillors being women in 2019 to 26% in 2020. Whilst the campaign appeared to have further changed the demographic of Councillors, no equality and diversity data was collected.
The following points were discussed:
· The street art initiative had a positive impact in encouraging more people to stand for election.
· RBBC should explore opportunities to share learning with the County Council for the election of County Councillors in 2021.
· If possible, some of the MLD sessions could be webcast and recordings made available throughout the year, or that more sessions be offered online, if those opportunities were available.
· There would be benefit in better understanding the equality and diversity characteristics of Members, in the same way that the Council already collected the data for Officers.
· This was a timely opportunity to prioritise the sessions offered.
· That a variety of timeslots should continue to be available, noting that offering evening sessions, did not lead to better attendance.
· Whether Group Leaders should play a bigger role in improving attendance.
· The MLD sessions should be aligned to the Objectives in Reigate and Banstead 2020 -2025.
· Each session of the induction, and the programme thereafter, would benefit from a better explanation of why Members should attend.
· That whilst cost had exceeded budget, the evaluation of the programme would lead to a streamlining of the programme for 2020/21.
Members were supportive of continuing to provide the induction day on a Saturday, as that had proven successful in 2019.
1. The findings of the evaluation be noted.
2. A Working Group of Councillors Bray, McKenna and Neame be formed to consider how to improve the attendance and participation of Members in learning and development.
3. The Committee work programme be amended to provide for the Working Group to report back to the Committee with its findings before the start of the 2020/21 municipal year.
4. The date of the Member induction day, for new and existing Members be 16 May 2020.
5. In accordance with the Council’s Equality Objectives, Members’ equality and diversity data be collected.