(1) The General Counsel introduced the report by saying that 15 Members had responded to the Member Induction Survey. Of these, 12 had been newly-elected. The induction process adopted after the May 2021 elections had needed to take account of the restrictions still in place in response to Covid-19. The survey had therefore been immensely valuable as it would enable officers to prepare the induction process for 2025 when it was hoped that there would no longer be any restrictions.
(2) In response to Members’ comments, the General Counsel said that training on the Kent Code in respect of Member behaviours would be provided following discussions within the Standards Committee as part of a series of training events over the next few months.
(3) Members of the Committee commented that the mentoring of new Members was clearly recognised as being beneficial and that an approach to this needed to be embedded to ensure that it happened in 2025. A start could be made by identifying experienced Members who, subject to being returned at the next election, would be willing to make themselves available. The General Counsel replied that some mentoring would be political in nature and would be most appropriately carried out within the political groups. New Members also needed to be made aware of who they should contact for assistance with an enquiry on behalf of their constituents or a more general request for information. He suggested that a paper on the mentoring of new Members be prepared in a year’s time setting out a proposal for the Committee’s consideration.
(4) Members commented that due to the restrictions in place following the elections, new Members had not had the opportunity to meet and get to know their colleagues and officers.
(5) It was suggested that the LGA provided a mentoring scheme which the General Counsel could formally seek to access. Further surveys on Member induction and development could be made prominently available at meetings of the County Council once a year to ascertain whether Members felt confident that they were able to contribute to the debate within and the work of the Council. This should include equalities - related questions.
(6) In response to Members’ comments, the General Counsel agreed that he would ask a project team within Governance, Law and Democracy (GLD) to consider how best to provide information to Members that had previously been contained in the Members Diary. This should include the identification of relevant officers and a general indication of how Teams within the Directorates fitted together. He also undertook to communicate the views expressed on the need for easily accessible information to the inter-Directorate Team whose role was to consider the information provided in the Members’ section of KNET. A future meeting of the Committee would be invited to consider a report on Member information communication issues once the GLD project team had completed its work. He agreed the project team’s work would involve those Members who wished to contribute.
(7) Members noted that there was usually a Showcase Day following the elections with a mid-term refresher. This had not taken place due to the pandemic. Something similar could be provided in the Spring of 2022. The General Counsel replied that some of the ideas which had informed the cancelled Member Development Conference in April 2020 could be revisited and that this matter would be considered by the GLD project team.
(8) The Committee agreed that the Minutes of the meeting would record its thanks to Mrs Jill Kennedy-Smith and the Member Hub Team for their work in arranging Member training under the most trying of circumstances.
(9) RESOLVED that: -
(a) the report be noted together with the outcome of the discussion summarised above;
(b) the Member Development Sub-Committee be requested to take the report’s findings into account when considering future induction periods; and
(c) Mrs Jill Kennedy-Smith and the Member Hub Team be thanked for their work in arranging Member training under the most trying of circumstances.