Agenda item

Portfolio Holder update

The Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development will be in attendance to provide an update on his Portfolio in general.  Particular consideration to be given to communications issues.


At the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel on 8 April 2014, it had been agreed ‘that Portfolio Holders, including the Leader of the Council, be invited to attend Panel meetings, to provide updates on the work that their departments were undertaking, and that financial issues should also be included in the updates’.


At the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel held on 25 November 2014, it was agreed that the Panel wished to speak to the Portfolio Holder responsible for Communication.  Alongside this, they also requested an update on his portfolio in general, and the current position.  To this end, the Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development attended to provide the update requested.  The following information was provided:




·         Usage of the website was very good. There had been 17,000 users last month.

·         The Portfolio Holder felt that shared management arrangements with respect to Communications were not sufficient.  Since the Joint Communications Team Leader had left, a consultant and junior officer were currently in place.  However, he was not happy with this shared arrangement and wished instead for a senior officer to be in position at each of the authorities (Breckland Council and South Holland District Council).

·         Use was being made of social media e.g. Twitter and Facebook.

·         A number of press releases had been made however, there could have been more and he felt that this could be improved once dedicated communications staff were in place.

·         Members’ Designated Budgets was an area that could received more high profile communication.


Other areas of Portfolio


·         There was some concern with regard to Human Resources data

·         Zero-hour contracts – some staff at the Authority were on zero-hours, which he advised they were happy with.

·         A lot of work had recently been undertaken in respect of the Corporate Plan.


Members raised the following issues:


·         If the website was being used so well, would this have not been an ideal platform to undertake the Leisure survey?

o   The Portfolio Holder agreed that it would have been.


·         Recently, there had been some articles in the local newspaper featuring Council Officers, explaining areas of work being undertaken.  This was felt to be a good idea.  Would this be happening more?

o   The Portfolio Holder agreed that this was a good initiative as it provided more information to the public on Council services.


·         Were any statistics held regarding user-satisfaction with the website.  The Authority needed to know this information, and if there was any reason why some members of the public were not using it, e.g. difficulty in finding particular information.

o   The Portfolio Holder agreed that the website was not user-friendly.  He commented that there needed to be more consistency and Plain English should be used.


·         Communications included communicating with members of the Council, other Councils and Parish Councils.  Was there any information on how satisfied others were with this.  District Council members felt that this was not always as good as it should be e.g. members were not always advised beforehand of Press releases.

o   The Portfolio Holder responded that lack of resource could sometimes be a reason for poor communication.  With regard to Press releases, it could be possible to send this information out to Councillors. 


The Portfolio Holder thanked the Panel for inviting him to the meeting and advised that if members had any further questions, that they could contact him with them.




a)    That the update provided by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development be noted;


b)    That the SHDC website was not user-friendly, and should be modernised and made easier to use and navigate; and


c)    That the comments of the Panel be taken back by the Portfolio Holder for consideration in any future changes and improvements to Communications.