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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2011
Minutes of 27 January 2011 meeting

Date: 27 January 2011
Time:16:00
Venue:Conference room 4B

Present:
William Graham AM (Conservatives) – Chair
Lorraine Barrett AM (Labour)
Peter Black AM (Liberal Democrats)
Chris Franks AM (Plaid Cymru)

Officials present:
Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk
Dianne Bevan, Chief Operating Officer
Keith Bush, Director of Legal Services
Adrian Crompton, Director of Assembly Business
Ian Summers, Head of Corporate Unit
Aled Eirug, Constitutional Adviser
Connie Robertson, Head of Estates and ICT
Helen Finlayson, Secretariat
Helen Birtwhistle, External Communications – item 3
Natalie Drury-Styles, Outreach and International Relations Manager – item 3

Independent Advisers:
Mair Barnes

Observers:
None

Others:
None

1. Introduction and apologies
Apologies were received from the Llywydd.  The Commission agreed that William Graham AM would chair the meeting in the Llywydd’s absence.

Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.

Minutes of meeting – 30 November 2010
The minutes were formally agreed.

Matters arising from the meeting on 30 November 2010
There were no matters arising.

2. Preparations for the Fourth Assembly
Dianne Bevan introduced the paper, noting that planning for the dissolution, the election and the transition to the Fourth Assembly was at an advanced stage.  She said that guidance had been made available via the intranet and that further information and answers had been provided to Members and their staff as queries were raised.  She outlined the proposed induction plan for new Members, reminding Commissioners of the expected high turnover after the elections.

Claire Clancy said that the induction proposals, which had been structured so that sessions would be delivered in a variety of ways, including one to one basis, by party group, and to all new Members, were intended to form the basis of a programme of continuous professional development, designed to support and meet the individual needs of all Members and their staff throughout the Fourth Assembly.

The Commission discussed the induction proposals, and welcomed the intention to support new Members through tailored and focused sessions.  Lorraine Barrett requested that the successful ‘buddying’ arrangements from previous Assemblies be put in place again, providing new Members with a single point of contact.  Peter Black asked that consideration be given to providing a session that focused on Members’ equality duties and relevant employment law, and another on finding and setting up constituency offices.

William Graham requested consideration be given to provision of appropriate contacts for party business managers, as Members might prefer to channel queries through them.

The Commission noted the progress made, welcomed the induction proposals, subject to its suggested amendments, and agreed the annexed end of year arrangements for Members to submit claims.

3. Opening of the Fourth Assembly
Helen Birtwhistle introduced the paper, noting that the main principles were to be inclusive and to showcase the Assembly and its work whilst working closely with key partners.

The Commission agreed the principles on which the opening would be organised and warmly welcomed the aim of reflecting the diversity of Wales whilst ensuring that no part of the community felt in any way excluded.  William Graham asked that the many positive elements from 2007 should be repeated for the Fourth Assembly, including the short procession.  The Commission strongly endorsed the use of the proposed venue and provisionally endorsed the draft proposals for the opening.  There was a debate about the nature of the service or celebration and the Commission asked to consider again how the principles would be achieved in practice, and requested that more detail on the programme be brought to its next meeting.

4. Unifying the Assembly’s ICT network (UNO)
Dianne Bevan noted that the UNO project had been formally closed, although some lesser technical issues were still being resolved.  She noted that the project had kept within its revised budget, and that while the extensive project had experienced some difficulties, the envisaged benefits were starting to be realised.

Peter Black asked that further details on the benefits be provided, including the pressure to leave the gsi network, the increased flexibility within the Merlin contract and the cost that would have been incurred had the project not been undertaken this year.  Mair Barnes emphasised the important of the Commission monitoring the achievements of benefits and savings.

The Commission noted the final project budget; the progress made addressing the outstanding issues; the ongoing project tasks; and the summary of the lessons that had been learned.  The Commission requested that the lessons learned be used to strengthen management of similar programmes in future, and that six-monthly benefit and saving reviews be undertaken and reported to the Commission.

5. Retendering the catering contract
Dianne Bevan introduced the paper, outlining the timescales involved and options for potential savings, in line with the Commission’s budget strategy, whilst providing a suitable level of service to Members.

The Commission discussed and gave a general steer on the level and range of services required for inclusion in the next catering contract, and agreed that the subsidy should be reduced but stressed that informed decisions should be taken about levels of service and the facilities it would be necessary to retain for Assembly Members to be able to fulfil their roles effectively.  Lorraine Barrett agreed to represent the Commission in the retendering process.

6. Matters to note
The Commission noted the correspondence between Lorraine Barrett AM and Bethan Jenkins AM.

The Commission noted that Commissioners would continue in office when the Assembly dissolved on 31 March.  Keith Bush said that the Assembly would meet within seven days of the election, and that the first item of business would be the election of a Presiding Officer.  The current Commissioners would remain in office until new Commissioners were elected.

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