The Corporate Lead Officer for Democratic Services presented
a report to the Committee, noting that the Members’ Schedule of Remuneration
for 2022/23 was approved by Council on 20th May 2022 with the
exception of paragraph 8, bullet point 6 and 7 of the covering report which
relate to remote attendance by Councillors that are not Members of a Committee
and prior authorisation for in person attendance at conferences, seminars,
external meetings and training events; and paragraph 15.1 of the Schedule which
relates to prior authorisation for overnight stays. The above matters were deferred to the
Democratic Services Committee for consideration.
It was noted that the Council has invested in equipment to
facilitate remote attendance, implementing phase 1 in accordance with the Local
Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, and that phase 2 would incorporate
an app which would make the system more effective, overcoming early technical issues.
During the Council meetings held on 23rd
September 2021, the Council committed to being a Diverse Council, facilitated
by the flexibility remote attendance offers to a wider range of Members. This
was promoted within an Information Booklet for Candidates which several
Councillors have benefitted from.
The Council has also committed to reducing its carbon
footprint, which will also benefit from reduced travelling, as well as
financial savings as a result of reduced travelling.
It was noted that paragraph 15.1 of the Schedule has been in
place since 2017, in order to ensure that where there is justification from
travelling that value for money is ensured via procurement services.
Members emphasised the importance of leading by example,
noting that hybrid meetings are the way forward and that reduced travel should
be encouraged; however there were concerns that it would be difficult for new
Members to get to know each and build relationships without being sat around a
table. It was also noted that there is
room for improvement in ensuring that Members do not lose connections to
meetings due to insufficient bandwidth and other technical issues. Members also
noted that they may wish to attend meetings which they are not Members of in
order to get a wider perspective of matters that affected their constituents.
Eifion Evans, Chief Executive confirmed that Members would
be able to attend such meetings remotely, however they would not be eligible to
claim travel expenses to attend meetings that they are not Members of, due to
the alternative solutions now being available to them. Council employees have already been
challenged to identify savings in this area in order to be able to protect
Several Members noted that they do not claim travelling
expenses for personal and ethical reasons as it is a privilege to represent
their wards; however it was also acknowledged that that in order to promote a
diverse Council some Members may need to claim payment, and that encouraging
Members to engage with the hybrid system was important in order to ensure that
people are not put-off becoming Councillors.
Members also asked about accessing Office 365 via
alternative technical devices such as an i-phone and android, and also asked
about protocols when attending meetings remotely. It was noted that revised guidance would be
issued to all Members.
discussion, it was RESOLVED to recommend to Council the following
amendments, noted in bold below:
Paragraph 8; bullet point 6 and 7 of the covering
“In line with the Local Government and
Elections Act 2021, the Council will be holding hybrid meetings which means
that not all Councillors will need to be present in the Council Chamber in
order to attend meetings. Those that are not members of the respective
Committee or are specifically invited to attend, are encouraged to attend meetings
In person attendance
at conferences, seminars, external meetings and training events should
liaise with the Corporate Lead Officer, Democratic Services in order to
ensure that there is provision in the budget and that there is a need to attend
Paragraph 15.1 of the Schedule – No changes were recommended to this
paragraph as it has been included in the Members’ Schedule of Remuneration
Schedule 2, Approved duties, first paragraph to be amended as follows,
in line with paragraph 8, bullet point 7 of the covering report:
Councillors should liaise with the Corporate Lead Officer: Democratic Services if they intend to claim travelling and expenses costs for in person attendance at conferences, seminars, out of county meetings and training events, to ensure that there is provision in the budget and that there is a need to attend in person.