Councillor training to ramp up ahead of change to committee system

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Sheffield Council said its training for councillors will ramp up as it prepares to move from a cabinet to a committee system over the next year.

Last month, voters chose to change the way the council is run from a strong leader and cabinet model to a committee system but this is not required to be implemented until May 2022.

In the meantime, Gillian Duckworth, director of legal and governance at the council, said there will be lots of training for officers and councillors.

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It was discussed in an audit and standards committee meeting on Thursday.

In the meeting, Ms Duckworth said as well as the council’s own training, the Local Government Association gave them a year’s worth of training to support them which they were going to use it to its fullest and councillors should expect to hear lots about development on a likely weekly basis.

The committee also discussed feedback from councillor inductions, which aim to inform and support newly elected members.

Councillor David Barker, who was elected back onto the council last month and took the training, said: “As I said in my comments, the problem is the council does so much and it’s so detailed that even in two days you can only really scratch the surface so as long as that induction just signposts you to the people you need to talk to about issues then that’s great but there is quite easy for new members to get distracted.

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“I just think what we lost, nothing could be done about it, was that at an induction it’s nice to meet people and talk to people and you couldn’t do that via Zoom. So I was a little bit disappointed in that respect but in terms of the issues covered and the level of information and the signposting, I found it helpful.”

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, chair of the committee, said she wrote to all new members asking for feedback.

She said: “I think they felt it was an awful lot of information to cram into two days and I think that’s always a problem. You want people to have all the information they need and I don’t necessarily think they realise how important or useful those things are until six months forward.”

She later added: “I think it’s really important that members do recognise it’s not something you do once and you’re done, it’s something that we have to do continually in order to refresh and keep up with all the changes in local government…

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“I think this is a good start and I really hope it’s going to be something we are going to maintain not just this year but throughout the years and making sure our members are fully developed and trained as they can be because if we are the leaders of the city we owe it to the people of the city to be better than our best.”

She also said social media training should be compulsory for all members as those are the most common complaints the council gets about councillors.


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