At present EMHAUC meets on a quarterly basis. The two component parts of EMHAUC - Highways EMHAUC and EMJUG also meet on a quarterly basis. Group representatives therefore have 8 main meetings to attend each year. For Highway Authorities this may not be too onerous. However for Utility companies where rationalisation has led to their representatives being members of several regional HAUCs this can mean that they attend 16, 24, 30 or more meetings each year.
It is evident from the examination of the Minutes from previous Meetings of EMHAUC and HEMHAUC and EMJUG that attendance levels have fallen and certainly it is very rare that the majority of members are in attendance at any one meeting. The effectiveness of any Group is dependant upon the involvement of its members and bearing in mind the above at present it must be questionable as to whether EMHAUC and its component Groups are as effective as they may be.
It is possible that if the effectiveness of the Group is diminished further members may find it unproductive to attend meetings or difficulty in justifying their attendance to their organisations leading to a vicious circle of decline.
If it is agreed that this is an issue then the matter needs to be dealt with.
Having discussed the matter at length the Best Practice Sub Group recommends that consideration be given to holding the present three separate meetings each quarter on one day. The suggested format is that the meetings are held at one location with HEMHAUC and ENJUG meeting separately in the morning and then EMHAUC meeting in the afternoon.
There are some significant positive aspects to this proposal: -
1. Staff time attending the mainstream HAUC/JUG meetings for the region would be cut by half and therefore the overall savings to the member organisations would be significant.
2. Representatives should find it easier to justify the attendance of the meetings to their parent organisations therefore ensuring that the meetings themselves were well attended adding to the effectiveness of the Group.
3. The meetings would have to be focused upon the points for discussion avoiding what may be considered as unnecessary and unproductive communication.
There are some also areas of the proposals that may be seen with concerns: -
1. The provision of a suitable meeting place may be a difficulty as there would be a need to find a location with two meeting rooms one of which would have to accommodate up to 40 persons and the other for about 20. This would seem to indicate the requirement for hiring a suitable location that may impose a financial cost on the Group.
2. Time for discussions on matters within the meetings would have to be limited and they would have to be 'managed' to ensure that the Agenda was completed within the time available.
3. Items raised in the morning meetings would have to be discussed in the afternoon meetings without much time being available for representatives to do research on matters.
In answer to the above points the introduction of subscriptions might assist in answering the first point whilst the increased use of sub groups (whose purpose is to develop ideas and policies prior to the meetings and circulate their proposals in advance) would go some way to alleviating the concerns of the other two points.
The Sub Group recommends that the above recommendation be adopted by EMHAUC as a Best Practice initiative.
Clive Wood on behalf of the Best Practice Sub Group
13 July 2003