Agenda and minutes

Selection and Member Services Committee - Thursday, 25th November, 2021 2.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Andrew Tait  03000 416749


No. Item


Minutes - 28 October 2021 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Additional documents:


(1)       The General Counsel informed the Committee that, with reference to Minute 18 (11), he had not yet written to the Secretary but would do so in the next few weeks.


(2)       RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 October 2021 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Member KNet Pages pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:


(1)       The GLD Delivery Officer gave a presentation showing the Members’ Page on the KCC Intranet site (KNet).   She began with the “Carousel” page which set out the menu and explained that it was reviewed and updated every week. It typically contained time-limited or time-sensitive items such as new Covid Vaccination Centres, new Consultations and stories of general interest to KCC. 


(2)       At the bottom of the page, there was a bar entitled “Resources” which contained a number of features including an email address which Members could utilise if they needed information that they could not access elsewhere.   The “Video Area” consisted of three channels: “Inductions”, “Briefings” and “Training and Member Development.”  Access to these channels was limited to members and those officers who needed to upload content.  The “Update” section contained the latest news on a variety of issues and announcements.  It was kept up-to-date n a weekly basis.


(3)       The GLD Delivery Officer then explained the purpose of the nine tiles under the heading “Quick Links.”  These were “Useful Contacts” (including Directorate Structure Charts), “Expenses”, “Useful Documents” (which now included the Member Handbooks and FAQs), the “Committee Calendar” (which now included a Committees Page), the “Consultation Site” “Emergency Planning”, the “Information Point”, and “Member Development” which linked to KCC’s Delta Service page (KCC’s e-learning platform.)


(4)       The GLD Delivery Officer then said that the page also contained space for additional tiles such as the “Tribute” page which was currently there.  Additional pages were available for news updates as well as advice and guidance. The “Media Hub” was automatically updated whenever KCC issued a press release. 


(5)       The General Counsel commented that the work carried out to make the Members’ Page as relevant and up-to-date as possible was carried out by staff in Democratic Services and other Teams such as Corporate Communications and Policy.  It also gave opportunities for Members to comment upon the current content and suggest improvements.


(6)       Mr Gough asked whether Members were generally aware of the existence and usefulness of this service.  The GLD Delivery Officer replied that it was difficult to quantify use of the site by Members due to the confidential nature of the way in which it had been set up.  Although it was possible to ascertain the number of hits on the site, the actual users could not be identified. This meant that the users could be an officer who had uploaded data or the same Member using the site regularly.  Members had been notified by email earlier in the year that work on building up and improving the Members’ Area.  She was not aware whether similar correspondence had been sent to the new cohort following the May elections. 


(7)       The General Counsel agreed with Mr Gough’s suggestion that all-Member briefings on any topic would afford an excellent opportunity to incorporate a brief presentation on Members Area, such as the Committee had just received.  He agreed to discuss this with his colleagues with a view to including a Members Page introductory  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Member Remuneration Panel Report -- Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 686 KB

Additional documents:


(1)       The General Counsel introduced the report which set out recommendations of the Member Remuneration Panel (MRP) which were not directly related to the Members’ Allowances Scheme.


(2)       The Committee discussed the question of whether there was anything in the way that KCC operated which militated against a more diverse membership. Mr Lehmann asked whether it was possible to means test Members’ Allowances so that a higher allowance could be offered to younger Members who were on a low income. The General Counsel replied that this suggestion would be added to the list of Members’ suggestions that would be presented to the MRP when it next considered the Members’ Allowances Scheme.


(3)       The General Counsel replied to a question from Dr Sullivan by saying that he would be considering how to inform potential candidates before the next election of the ways in which they could become involved in supporting their communities.  Most of the candidates were nominated by their political parties, so he would be writing to local parties to make them aware of some of the recommendations of the MRP.  Possible supporting activities would be considered by Personnel Committee and Standards Committee. The Selection and Member Services Committee also had a role in considering how to support Members through their terms of office and how to demonstrate that KCC was fulfilling its statutory duty to support equalities.


(4)       Mr Gough said that the MRP’s recommendation that KCC should appoint a Lead Member for Equality and Diversity had not been taken forward in the way that the Panel had suggested.  This was partly due to cost but mainly because the decision on who to nominate was a matter for political parties, over whom the County Council had no control.  There might, however, be an opportunity to appoint a less formal champion. He noted that membership of the County Council had become more diverse since he had first been elected in 2005, particularly in terms of the number of women and younger people.  He believed that the question was to what extent people were encouraged or discouraged from putting themselves forward to the pool from which nominations were made. 


(5)       Mr Hook said that all the political parties found it difficult to put forward as diverse a range of candidates as it would like.  It seemed that, even amongst party members who had joined a party out of broad political interest, there was a lack of knowledge and understanding of what the County Council actually did, what its budget was and how it differed from the work of Parliament or District Councils.


(6)       Mr Hook then said that there was a need to improve webcasting of its meetings.  This was because it was of insufficient quality for a TV network to use its images in its news programmes.  If this was improved, awareness of the County Council would improve as well, leading to a greater variety of people becoming motivated to seek election.  


(7)       Mr Hook continued that consideration could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Update from the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:


(1)         The General Counsel updated the Committee on arrangements for the County Council meeting on 16 December 2021.  The number of Covid cases in Kent was being closely monitored and the Director of Public Health was regularly asked to provide updated information. At this stage it was intended to hold the meeting in the Council Chamber. 


(2)       The General Counsel then said that he would shortly be writing to all the Group Leaders to ask whether they supported the arrangements in the light of experience at the previous County Council meeting.  He would also welcome any suggestions for improvement.  


(3)       In response to a question from Mr Sweetland, the general Counsel confirmed that the any Member who took part virtually would be noted in the Minutes, although only those physically present could be formally recorded as attendees.


(4)       Mr Simkins commented that the facilitation of Lateral Flow Tests prior to the previous meeting had been helpful and reassuring.


(5)       In response to a question from Mr Rayner, the General Counsel said that it was his understanding that any Member who only attended Council meetings remotely during a six-month period would potentially be subject to disqualification.  At present, no Members of the Council faced this risk.  Were such a problem to arise, the Member in question could attend a meeting of a committee which was sufficiently small to mitigate their concerns over the pandemic.  He added that every meeting held in the Council Chamber could be attended virtually by any Member who preferred this option.


(6)       RESOLVED that the report be noted.