Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Item

17 September 2008

South East Employers Charter for Elected Member Development

Report of the Chief Officer and Chairman of the Human Resources Committee

Contact: Mark Rayner - Head of Training and Development Tel: 02380 644000 ext 2344

1

Summary

1.1

At the Fire Authority meeting on 4 June 2008, Members supported the proposal to sign up to the South East Employers Charter for Elected Member Development and to work towards achieving the award in the coming years.

1.2

This report reminds Members of the benefits to the Authority in gaining the Charter and updates Members on progress with establishing the cross-party steering group to act as champions, oversee the completion of the self-assessment and deliver the future action plan to achieve the award. It also provides the background to a presentation from the South East Employers on the Member Development Charter.

2

RecommendationsError! Bookmark not defined.

2.1

That the Authority notes the content of this report and Members support the work to achieve the Charter for Member Development.

2.2

That Members agree to undertake a self-assessment questionnaire, based on the Improvement & Development Agency's (IDeA) Political Skills Framework, to support the analysis of our areas for development.

3

    Introduction Error! Bookmark not defined.and Background

3.1

    The fire and rescue service faces increasing expectations from both Government and the public. We are experiencing a need for greater diversity in the services we provide in order to make our communities even safer. The role of Fire Authority Members is critical as we make risk-based decisions on the allocation of resources and future planning.

3.2

    In recognition of this, Members have agreed to the Authority signing up to the South East Charter for Elected Member Development (HFRA, 4 June 2008) and to work towards achieving the award in the coming years. The Charter provides an opportunity to establish a systematic and co-ordinated framework for Member Development and will build on the Member Awareness Framework previously agreed by the Authority.

3.3

As the Authority strives to move from a `good' to an `excellent' authority, the Service as a whole will need to continue to update and improve its skills and keep up to date with new developments. Achievement of the Charter will demonstrate the Authority's commitment to ongoing Member Development and establish the necessary structures to ensure that future learning and development provides maximum benefit to the communities we serve.

4

    Contribution to Corporate Aims and Objectives

4.1

Commitment to, and achievement of, the Charter will establish the Authority's commitment to ongoing development and will support achievement of the corporate aims and objectives. It will help ensure that Authority Members continue to develop their skills and specialist knowledge and will help ensure Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) continues to move towards being an `excellent' Service.

5

South East Employers - Charter for Elected Member Development

5.1

Success in achieving `excellent' in future government assessments will partially depend on a clear demonstration of investment in, and the effectiveness of, Elected Member development.

5.2

    The South East Employers (SEE), in conjunction with IDeA, have developed a Charter for Elected Member Development - http://www.seemp.co.uk/councillors/emcharter.htm. There are a number of milestones in achieving the Charter and these are:

    · Commitment to Member Development

    · Strategic approach to Member Development

    · Member learning and development plan in place

    · Learning and development is effective in building capacity

· Elected Member Development promotes work life balance and citizenship

5.3

    These milestones will be achieved through a Member led self-assessment process and development of a resulting action plan to achieve any identified areas of improvement. Support in achieving the Charter will be provided by SEE and the IDeA. The Training and Development Department within HFRS will provide internal support to the Working Group and the Authority as it progresses towards the Charter.

5.4

    There are 5 stages to achievement of the Charter:

    Stage 1 - Signing up to the Charter and developing an Action Plan

    Stage 2 - Improving the development of Elected Members

    Stage 3 - Assessment

    Stage 4 - Awarding the Charter

    Stage 5 - Re-assessment (after 3 years)

    It is anticipated that from signing up to the Charter and achieving the award takes approximately 18-24 months, depending on the areas identified within the Action Plan.

5.5

    Benefits of achieving the Charter include establishing a Member led process to place ownership of development with the Members, establishing clearly defined development opportunities for Members, strengthened arrangements for Member development, improved use of capacity and recognition of commitment to Member development in future service assessments. It is also anticipated that the successful implementation of the Charter will include greater involvement of Members in key HFRS development activities and closer working with Officers of the Service in a variety of strategic contexts.

6

Member Development Steering Group

6.1

As previously recommended, a cross-party steering group has been established to progress the self-assessment process and develop the initial Action Plan. The Steering Group will meet three times per year and report progress to the HR Committee. They will be supported by officers from the Training and Development Department.

6.2

The Steering Group Members are:

Cllr Keith Chapman

Cllr Sam Payne

Cllr David Harrison

Cllr Jane Frankum

6.3

The Steering Group will carry out a self assessment on behalf of the Authority and develop an action plan to achieve the award. They will also act as champions for embedding Member development within the Authority.

7

    Self Assessment Questionnaire

7.1

    To support the overall self assessment of the Authority, it is proposed that each Member complete a self assessment questionnaire to identify strengths and areas requiring further development within the Authority. The questionnaire will be based on the I&DEA Political Skills Framework.

7.2

    The questionnaire will be developed as either an on-line tool or will be integrated into future committee meetings. Completion of the questionnaire will be anonymous and it is hoped that all HFRA Members will complete the questionnaire to help to build a complete picture of the Authority's needs for the future.

8

    Risk Analysis

8.1

    The fire and rescue service is in a period of substantial and sustained change as the expectations of the public and Government continue to grow. Achievement of the SE Charter for Elected Member Development will support Members in identifying and leading their own development, therefore supporting the HFRA in making future risk-based decisions to ensure delivery of its strategic priorities.

9

Resource/Financial Implications

9.1

Human Resources

The Steering Group is comprised of at least one Member from each party to progress the work. This will be co-ordinated and supported by the existing resources of the Training and Development Department. Future development opportunities for Members will be delivered within the Member Awareness Framework as previously agreed.

9.2

Physical Resources

These will be provided from within existing Service resources.

9.3

Information and Communications Technology Resources

These will be provided from within existing Service resources.

9.4

Financial Implications

There is a one off cost of registering for the Charter of £3000. This has been reduced to £2500 in recognition of the work HFRA is undertaking to develop this in a Fire Authority.

9.5

Funding from the South East Fire Improvement Partnership has been sought and they have agreed to fund £1500 of the cost of registration. In return for this funding the Authority will share the experiences of working towards the Charter within the region and support other fire and rescue authorities should they seek the award.

10

Equality Impact Assessment

10.1

An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out on this proposal and no negative impacts are identified. This will be updated at the first meeting of the Steering Group.

11

Consultation

11.1

As the work on achieving the Charter develops, consultation with all Members will be undertaken to ensure that their full understanding and engagement in the work is achieved. This will be coordinated by the Steering Group through the HR Committee.

12

    Conclusion

12.1

The role of Fire Authority Members is more crucial now than ever before in taking the Service forward. As Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service strives to become the best fire and rescue service in the UK we will need the ongoing support and guidance of Fire Authority Members to achieve our aspirations.

12.2

    Achievement of the SE Charter for Elected Member Development will establish a systematic and co-ordinated framework for Member development within the Authority. This will demonstrate the commitment of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority to the ongoing development of Authority Members against a national benchmark.

    Background Information (Section 100D of Local Government Act 1972)

    The following documents disclose the 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 the report:

    South East Charter for Elected Member Development - Guidance

    Note: The list excludes: (1) published works; and (2) documents that disclose exempt or confidential information defined in the Act.