To consider a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources, copy attached as item 8
Before the Committee was a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources, a copy of which was circulated to all members a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of these minutes as item 8. This report before Members set out background information on the Portfolios of the Worthing Leader to enable the Committee to consider and question the Leader on issues within her portfolio and any high-level strategic issues which the Leader was involved in connected with the work of the Council and the Worthing communities.
A Member asked the following question: It seemed to take you a long time to appoint members to the executive. Could you tell us the process that you used to select those members please? Members were told that he process had developed over a period of time alongside listening to residents during listening surgeries and roles had been created to match issues that had come up as part of that process. Members had been selected to fill those positions according to their individual skill sets.
A Member asked the following question: Since the new administration was elected in May the council’s communications team has issued a number of press releases, including Q&As, some of which include quotes from executive members. How much input do executive members have in the drafting of those quotes and how much is drafted by council officers? Members were told that matters from the Joint Strategic Committee tended to come from a Council official alongside a quote from Cabinet Members. The recent Q and A with new Cabinet Members had been written by Cabinet Members.
A Member asked the following question: You have appointed an executive member to champion young people’s interests. There doesn’t appear to be anyone on your executive with a remit to look after the interests of older people. Will you be appointing someone to that role? Members were told that the creation of the post had arisen out of themes emerging from work in communities. It had appeared that there was a need for greater representation for younger people. With regards to older people they would of course continue to receive a focus through Citizens Services and the Wellbeing Portfolios. The big listening campaign would be designed in such a way as to hear the voices of older people.
A Member asked the following question: You have appointed a nine member executive meaning that one third of the available councillors (the Mayor and Deputy Mayor being ineligible) are now executive members. This is very unusual - could you explain the rationale behind having such a large executive please? Members were told that the portfolios had been developed as necessary to deliver the manifesto. In relation to culture and leisure the portfolio related to the wider aspects of the title and not specifically to trusts setup in that regard.
A Member asked the following question You have announced a ‘Big Listening’ exercise. Elsewhere in the country, and here in Worthing, Citizens’ Assemblies have proven an effective means of engaging with a cross section of the public on important issues. Why have you chosen the big listening exercise over more citizens’ assemblies? The Worthing Leader told members that it was not an either or situation and that citizens assemblies were one of the methods that could be utilised to enable more deliberative democracy sessions. The big listening campaign could be used to shape a medium / longer term approach to participation. Examples had been sought from other Local Authorities on different approaches including that of Wigan Council.
A Member asked the following question: You have made a commitment to being a council that listens to the public and that is an admirable aim. How will you balance opinions that you receive if those opinions stand in contrast to hard data that you know exists? The Worthing Leader told members that it was an important point. The big listening campaign was In part to judge how the data related to resident’s everyday lives and how to meet the needs of communities. The aims of the Authority would be adjusted and refined through the big listening campaign. Where there were discrepancies the data would need to be more closely examined. Learning outputs would be used to shape the data moving forward.