One of the items on last night's Council agenda was the presentation of a good practice and innovation award from the Welsh Local Government Association to the Council for its efforts in Member support and development.
It is always good to celebrate success and I am sure that the members of the public who have been keeping a close eye on budgetary matters will be pleased to know that the Labour led Council has not had to cut back to the extent where it cannot offer a high level of support to Members and apply for awards to give itself a pat on the back.
I am in no way denigrating the efforts of the member support team who do an excellent job which is much appreciated by elected members. I am not disputing either that member training and development is important for the smooth running of the Council. In fact there is maybe a need for it to be stepped up in order that some members can keep a closer eye on what is happening and the reports that are put before them and ensure they ask all the right questions.
However what the public may not realise from just reading the report put before Council is the true extent of the so called support services that Members can access.
For that they need to take a look at the application that was submitted by the Council to the WLGA for this award and which is available on the WLGA website. The introduction states:
"This submission seeks to highlight the excellent and innovative practices that Rhondda Cynon Taf's Occupational Health and Wellbeing Unit have undertaken with regard to Elected Member support and seeks to demonstrate that the services and support have demonstrably improved the outcomes for our Elected Members and RCT CBC"
It explains that the unit offers a support service to staff and elected members helping to ensure that people are fit to undertake the work that is asked of them. (Fit that is in a purely medical sense.)
Amongst the services offered are:
An MOT which includes Blood pressure, blood sugar / cholesterol testing.
Musculoskeletal Disorder assessments
and also Physiotherapy Appointments which apparently 50 elected members sought to take advantage of between 2012 and 2014.
In order to detect early signs and signals of work-related ill health staff and elected members can take advantage of a number of tests such as lung function tests.
With a current waiting time of 73 weeks in Cwm Taf for hearing tests then the public will no doubt be pleased to know that via occupational health Council staff and elected members can also have hearing tests.
Now whilst I am in favour of protecting the health of our staff, members of the public will no doubt be rightly annoyed to discover this whole raft of extra hidden benefits which are on offer to their elected representatives at the taxpayers' expense.
They would also I am sure like to know just how much this costs and whether there are plans to cut back on this in light of the "nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out " policy that the leader has announced.
A good practice and innovation award
Cllr Mike Powell
Cwm Taf for hearing tests