1 1.1 The fundamental purpose of the County Council's Democratic Services is to support County Councillors when they make decisions as they strive to achieve the County Council's corporate aims and to encourage and facilitate community access and involvement in the work of the County Council.
2 The County Council's Democratic Services operate within the requirements of the Local Government Act 2000 and other requirements imposed by way of subsequent Regulations. The County Council's new Constitution has operated since the 1 September 2001.
3 The extent to which the County Council's democratic services offer Best Value will be investigated during the course of this cross-cutting Review.
4 3.1 It is proposed that issues arising from the `Visioning' exercise held in June together with `areas for improvement' identified through an initial EFQM assessment undertaken in July, relating to the three sub areas of -
5 The democratic process
6 Support for Members
7 Elections (particularly election turnout)
8 be fully explored in the course of this review through the `4 Cs' of consultation, comparison, competition and challenge. It is anticipated that options will be presented to the Policy Review Committee early in 2003, allowing an Improvement Plan to be put into place by the end of March 2003.
10 At this stage it is estimated that up to 80 person days will be required to undertake the review.
11 Other direct costs eg expenses for wider team members, will be minimal.
12 That the Best Value review of Democratic Services proceeds in accordance with the approach detailed in the attached Project Brief.
Section 100D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
NB the list excludes:
Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.
Democratic Services Best Value Review Working File
Retained by the Review Team Leader
13 N.B. The list excludes:
14 Published works
15 Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.
Hampshire County Council
Policy and Resources Policy Review Committee Item
5 September 2002
Project Brief for the Best Value Review of Democratic Services
Report of the Chief Executive
Contact: Mr David Hinxman, ext. 7339
1. Original Scope of the Review
1.1 This is a cross cutting review of the Council Council's Democratic Services analysing the support given by the Chief Executive and Chief Officers for the Council and its formal decision making and policy review structure, support for members in their constituency and wider roles, and how the County Council encourages electoral participation.
2. Best Value Review Core Team
2.1 The following core team has been set up:
David Hinxman (Project Leader) (Head of Democratic Services)
Colin Hinxman (Democratic Services)
Lorraine Riley (Democratic Services)
Mike Sherwood (Democratic Services)
Michelle Smith (Head of Resources Group)
Sue Sylvester (Corporate Performance Team)
Karen Widdowson (Project Manager) (Democratic Services)
Wendy Andrews (Environment Department)
Howard Bass (IT Services)
Andrea Davies (County Treasurers)
Chris Edwards (Recreation and Heritage, Museums Service)
Wendy Pidduck (Property, Business and Regulatory Services)
Professor Michael Hart (King Alfred's College)
John Quinton (Surrey County Council, Chief Executive's Department)
Councillors Cartwright, Hayes, Rice and Wall have been nominated by this
Policy Review Committee to participate in the review.
2.2 The core team is a mixture of experienced elected members, practitioners and
progressive thinkers. Three sub-groups have been established to undertake
detailed analysis. These cover democratic processes, member support and
County Council elections. The sub-groups will cast their nets widely to meet
the Best Value four Cs of compare, consult, compete and challenge, involving
other key staff and stakeholders as necessary.
3.1 A visioning event was held in late June attended by all four elected members
allocated to the review, the two external challengers and all but two of the
County Council's officers . The key issues identified to improve Democratic
Services are centred around:
The democratic process:
· Research Support
· Generating local interest
· "Joined up" government
Support for members:
· Paperless communications
· Ongoing member training
· Key contacts directory
· Electronic communication protocols
· Provision of local information
· "Out of hours" emergency arrangements
· Member accommodation
· Service standards
· Electoral turn out
· Voting methods
· Electoral process information
· The "youth" vote
· Relevance of County Council activities
4. Approach to the Review
4.1 Each sub-group has been tasked with developing responses to the issues
identified. Each will apply the four Cs to its own field of activity as best suits
the work. Consultation will be undertaken with key stakeholders. These have
been identified by members and the core team as comprising largely the
public, interest groups, departments and elected members themselves.
4.2 Performance will be compared with operations in other similar local
authorities to establish the County Council's position particularly vis-à-vis value for money, added value, practice and procedures. Existing operations will be challenged in the light of these findings and the scope for competition analysed. Some local authorities have contracted out various elements of Democratic Services and the group will need to consider whether such a move would bring better value for the County Council. Current performance will be evaluated primarily by way of performance data arising from analysis of existing performance indicators and from responses to customer surveys. An EFQM exercise was completed by the core team on the 26 July concentrating on "enablers". There will be a further EFQM session in the Autumn in relation to "results" given that analysis of Democratic Services' recent customer survey is pending, together with the Citizens' Panel's response on electoral turnout.
5. Factors to be taken into Account
4.1 The review is proceeding against a background of change and innovation but
elements of Democratic Services are constrained by statutory requirements
particularly in relation to decision making procedures and the electoral
process. The review also needs to progress in the context of the new structures
pursuant to the Local Government Act 2000 so that comparisons are made
with local authorities operating the new constitutional arrangements. Inevitably, therefore, data collected and available for this element of the review, both within the County Council and within comparable county councils, will need careful examination.
5.2 The review of the Council's electoral arrangements will lean heavily on the
expertise of the Hampshire district councils who, for many years, have acted as
the County Council's agents when County Council elections take place. The
advantages and disadvantages of this process will be investigated and again
compared with like authorities. The disappointing fall in electoral turnout at
the last General and County Council combined election will be a significant
issue for the review team to consider in a climate which, despite the publicity
given to Parliamentary elections saw a significant drop in votes compared with
1997. Should the review show that the existing arrangements are
inappropriate, any plans for innovative actions to encourage people to vote
could have implications for the Districts countywide.
5.3 The review will take into also proceed taking in to full account the County
Council's corporate policies. Equalities, e-government and sustainability are
each of particular significance in relation to the provision of Democratic
6. Resource Requirements
6.1 Given the way in which the core team has chosen to divide itself into specific
topic areas it is estimated that some 70-80 project days could be required to
carry out the review and identify outputs. It also needs to be borne in mind that the review is taking place against a background of fundamental change in relation to the operation of the Constitution, an unavoidable statutory duty in relation to Education Appeals which continue to increase, growing statutory order work and new demands upon members and staff as the government forges ahead with its "modernisation" agenda. A great strength of the Chief Executive's Department and in democratic services staff in both other departments, however, has long been the ability to work under pressure and be flexible. The review will accordingly, be managed in that context given the need to maintain core service levels.
7. Outputs for the review
7.1 Each sub-group will identify its key tasks, collate information, analyse it
and bring forward proposals. It is anticipated that the investigative and
challenging work should be completed by the end of the year. This will enable
options to be considered by the Policy Review Committee and all service
improvements and an improvement plan to be put in place by the end of March