To hear from partner organisations on the contribution of Members appointed to outside bodies.
5.1 As part of the working group on appointments made to outside bodies, representatives of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Aspire Trust were in attendance.
5.2 Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)
5.3 The Manager of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau stated that the Council appointees’ attendance was good and that one Member had specified duties for the year. They gave their views and asked relevant question pertinent to the service.
5.4 With regard to benefits to both the Council and CAB, he stated that both the Council and CAB had similar aims such as improving the lives of residents. There was a good level of communication with Officers but the involvement of Members was useful for the Council as a whole to respond to issues.
5.5 The Bureau Manager advised that while Members’ overall presence is of benefit, the CAB would not fail to operate if they were not appointed. For example CAB, of its own volition, has fed back to and heard from the Council.
5.6 In response to a query from the Corporate Director regarding whether communication would cease if the Council did not appoint, the CAB Manager advised that there would still be contact but that Members’ presence improved knowledge and this was a benefit.
5.7 Councillor Wilson asked if it would be helpful to circulate a skills set to which the CAB Manager replied that what was important was their presence rather than skills.
5.8 In response to a query from the Corporate Director regarding training, the CAB Manager stated that, historically this had not been offered but that, following an Internal Audit, greater training for trustees had been suggested.
5.9 The Chief Executive outlined that Aspire had a contract with the Council to provide leisure facilities. There were eleven trustees of which two were Members of the Council. The rationale for their appointment was that Members attended as representatives of the community. This study was raised at the last board meeting and the general view was that their presence is positive but they attended as trustees and not representatives of the Council. She further outlined that the Members contributed as trustees to the strategic direction of the organisation.
5.10 In terms of benefits of the Council being involved with the Trust, the Chief Executive advised that there was the benefit of transparency with regard to the contract and the Council gains insight into Aspire’s work. Aspire benefitted through improved standing and credibility as well as the context of what was happening materially in the wider community. The Chief Executive further advised that Aspire provided governance training as well as the opportunity to sit on sub-committees and that it would be useful to share a skills matrix in order to assist in the making of appointments.
5.11 In response to a query from Councillor Tracey as to the level of Member feedback, the Chief Executive stated that it was an individual decision.
5.12 Councillor Wilson shared his view that there was an opportunity for organisations to share what skills would be needed for appointees. Councillor Lugg informed Members, however, that the Council did not conduct an audit of Members’ skills while the Corporate Director noted that Group Leaders took a view on Members’ skills. The Corporate Director also stated that it would be useful to receive skill sets from outside bodies and that there could be an opportunity to report to Council on what part appointees have played.
5.13 Members expressed their thanks to Aspire and CAB for their contribution to the study.