HPC DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Councillor & Staff Development Plan
Hurworth Parish Council (HPC) is comprised of twelve councillors and one part time Parish Clerk RFO. Additionally, two Ward Councillors attend most PC Meetings.
The councillors are all volunteers, and are elected for a four year term. Occasionally councillors can be co-opted, and in 2015, two of the HPC Councillors were co-opted.
Exceptionally this term is only for one year, with another election planned for 2016, due to boundary changes.
The experience and qualifications of councillors can be very varied, and hence the training and coaching they require could also have different. Emphasis needs to be placed on the profiling of individual councillors and members of the staff.
HPC believes that all councillors should play an active role, and make a commitment to achieving the council’s objectives.
Therefore early discussions take place to decide what topics councillors are most interested in, and what skills or experience they can bring to the council.
Based on these discussions, HPC tries to assign councillors to the most appropriate topics or projects.
HPC Council Structure
A structure has been formulated by the council to ensure that all of the main topics are monitored and that at least one councillor is assigned to matters appertaining to the topic. In many cases there is a budget attached to the topic, or to specific projects.
The Structure is currently as follows:-
Finance Working Group – recently this has been composed of the full council
Allotment Committee – two council representatives, and four allotment holders
Leisure and play areas
Newsletter and web site upkeep
Paths and Rights of Way
Vetting Committee – Chair, Vice Chair, immediate past Chair, immediate Vice Chair
Internal Review Committee - three councillors, excluding members of the Vetting Committee
We are fortunate that CDALC conducts a wide range of courses within County Durham, and these courses are high quality.
All new councillors are encouraged to attend the basic councillor training at the first opportunity; the response at HPC has been excellent.
Details of all upcoming courses and training seminars are distributed, by E Mail, to all councillors encouraging attendance. A Training Register is held by the Clerk.
Councillors who anticipate becoming Chair, are encouraged to attend the Chair Training courses, and in most cases this has taken place.
CDALC, DBC and other outside training organisations hold training courses on specific subjects, and HPC try to send at least one councillor to each of these courses or seminars.
In addition to formal training, HPC provides some inside, hands-on training to help to develop the councillor’s skills.
The Clerk conducts a session on ‘Understanding the Financial reports’. For non-accountants, the reports can appear confusing and it is essential that all councillors understand the figures sent to them, and the relevance of them.
The Clerk conducts a session addressing ‘Risk Analysis’, and highlights the points which could directly affect HPC and themselves in their role of councillors.
HPC invite speakers from Darlington Borough Council and other outside organisation, such as the Tees River Trust and Police. These speakers provide further transfer of knowledge which enhances the councillors understanding of their role. Examples of these subjects includes:-
Protection of the Environment – Tees River Trust
Drug and alcohol abuse – police
The law of Rights of Way and definitive pathways - DBC Countryside
The role of the Planning Officer and the council’s right to appeal. – Head of Planning DBC
The governments approach to Neighbourhood planning – Representative of DBC Planning Dept.
Addressing Flooding Problems – Representative of Stockton Town Council.
HPC holds monthly surgeries, and takes this opportunity to deploy one of the new councillors with one of the more experienced councillors, so that knowledge and the handling of questions and complaints can be passed on.
Development with on-the-job coaching.
Every Tuesday the Chair and Vice Chair meet with the Clerk to discuss all aspects of the council’s work, including new correspondence, enquiries, outstanding Action Items and to monitor the Plan. In this manner the Vice chair is effectively being groomed in readiness to become Chair.
Similarly several of the council’s responsibilities have more than one councillor, thereby preparing the newer councillors to take a more active role in the future. Example include Planning matters, Open Spaces, and Leisure.
The Clerk is always on hand to offer advice and guidance, and to assist councillors who may be short of experience.
Planning and Monitoring Councillor Development
In order to better define the needs of each individual councillor, HPC intend to implement an HR system. The Council will create a profile, which is linked to
the specific responsibilities they have agreed to take on.
Formal training is sought where applicable, and this may be supplemented by outside seminars, in house mentoring or specialist assistance.
6.1 Training Strategy
The Council wishes to ensure that all Members and staff are given the opportunity for appropriate and adequate training, to improve their ability to fulfil their duties, and to aid personal development and enhance “job-satisfaction”.
6.2 Individual Self-Assessment
To construct a plan to address the organization’s needs it is practical to begin with assessments of how well-equipped for their role each individual presently feels. A questionnaire has been designed to provide a general understanding, and is not related to specific educational attainment or previous experience.
The self-assessment Questionnaire form, an example of which is attached,allows councillors, or staff, to state how well-informed or experienced they consider themselves to be, in certain key areas.
Table A – Councillors Follow this link to forms
Table B - Staff Follow this link to forms
Once the questionnaires have been completed, appropriate training courses and in-house tuition can be arranged, and the records updated.