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Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests
Councillors Jim Blagden and David Walters declared Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests due to their former service within the Armed Forces.
that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 12 March 2020, be received and approved as a correct record.
Councillor Warren Nuttall took the opportunity to ask if the ‘Bus Provision in Ashfield’ review had been concluded and was advised that the review was currently pending due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the restrictions this had imposed on local transport providers over the past six months. The review would be recommenced once local transport service had been fully resumed and an assessment could be made as to any developing gaps in service following the lockdown.
The Chairman introduced the item and extended a warm welcome to Mark Leek who was in attendance at the meeting. Mark had founded the Kirkby in Ashfield Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club and was currently working as Operations Manager for the local ‘Forces in the Community’ Charity.
The Service Manager, Scrutiny and Democratic Services presented the introductory report which provided Members with some background information regarding current Council services accessed by veterans and ex-service personnel, national context regarding the topic, the Armed Forces Covenant and discussion points for the review’s terms of reference.
Originally the review was set to take place as a separate scrutiny commission as announced at a Council meeting in July 2019 by the Leader of the Council. Due to several challenging circumstances experienced over the past year, work on the commission had unfortunately been delayed.
At the July 2020 meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Members agreed the most appropriate course of action would be to incorporate the planned Veterans and Service Personnel Scrutiny Commission into the annual Scrutiny Workplan for 2020/21 to ensure the review could be undertaken with findings and recommendations being submitted to Cabinet.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members agreed some primary objectives for the review as follows:
o To examine all relevant Council policies and strategies and ensure all information for veterans and service personnel is clear and easily accessible;
o To consider the Council’s relationship with local veterans and service personnel charitable organisations;
o The development of a policy document to support the armed forces community, including information on:
· General support
· Benefits and finance
· Jobs and employment
· Health and wellbeing.
Aside from the review, the Council’s Senior Community Engagement Officer, Gillian Welch, had been working with the local veterans’ community for some years and had been at the forefront of enabling the Council to sign an Armed Forces Covenant.
The Covenant offered the Council a unique and low-cost way to do their bit to honour the Armed Forces locally whilst also offering groups, organisations and individuals within the area access to Government funding and the Armed Forces Covenant Grant Scheme.
The Senior Community Engagement Officer had also enabled the Council to achieve the bronze and silver awards (2018 and 2019 respectively), obtainable through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) which encouraged employers to support defence and offer inspiration to others.
Mark Leek had been actively engaged with the Council in their efforts to achieve the bronze and silver ERS awards and the Armed Forces Covenant and had worked tirelessly in the local area to support veterans and former members of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces. It was for that reason Members were keen to invite Mark to the Panel meetings to access his experience and knowledge and to encourage informed debate and conversation.
At this point in the meeting, Mark Leek took the opportunity to address the Panel and gave Members some background in relation to his upbringing and his forces service in the Territorial Army, 1 ... view the full minutes text for item SA.19