06/04/17: Councillor support and development is exemplary

Breckland's councillors have been recognised as some of the best-trained and supported in the country following the rigorous 'Charter Plus' assessment organized through the Local Government Association. 

At today's meeting (6 April), Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Chairman of the East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) presented the Charter Plus award to Cllr Ian Sherwood, who chairs Breckland's Member Development Panel.

Cllr. Sherwood said: "We recognized in 2006 that work needed to be done on member training and development and we devoted appropriate resources to improving this. This investment paid off and we achieved Charter status in 2008, then the more rigorous Charter Plus in 2010 and 2013. We are one of only seven district councils in the country who currently hold this prestigious award - it's an achievement to be proud of".

The Charter Plus assessment team, which is made up of members and officers from other councils, spent a day at the Breckland offices. They looked at and evaluated areas such as the induction process for new members, training opportunities and how accessible these are to all members, individual member development plans, promoting local democracy in the community and partnership working.  The team was particularly impressed at the high level of support provided to councillors in their role as community champions and the clear link between member training and the aims of the Corporate Plan. 

Member training at Breckland covers skills such as chairing meetings, public speaking, computer software training, time management, dealing with complex queries from constituents and effective communication including media interviews and social media. Events for young people are organised by the council throughout the year, inspiring them to use their vote and participate in local democracy when they reach 18 years.

Cllr. Sherwood continued: "I can speak from personal experience in saying that there is total commitment from Breckland to ensuring that members have the support and development opportunities they need, enabling them to support residents to the best of their ability"

The Council undergoes stringent re-assessments every three years and must demonstrate that further progress has been made in order to maintain their Charter Plus designation.