05 October 2020 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Virtual Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 5 October 2020 at 6:30pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell (Deputy Mayor), M Deacock, A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, C Jones, A Midwinter (Town Mayor), J Tipping and T Wyse
C Pinnells, Deputy Clerk
K Slater, Office Administration Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllr Gregory (personal). Cllr Bretherton was absent without apology.
All Members who were present were able to be seen and be heard.
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Council.
There were no public questions put to the Council.
4 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
No questions were raised.
The minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2020 were approved.
6 Personnel Committee
It was proposed that this item be discussed after Item 7.
The minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2020 were noted as an accurate record by the Personnel committee and were noted by Council.
Cllr Austin raised a point of order in relation to Item 5 of the Personnel minutes. It was felt that the Personnel committee had directed the strategic review exercise for Councillors without the consent of Council. Whilst the exercise may be required, it was felt that prior discussion with all Councillors about the purpose of the exercise and subsequent steps would have been beneficial. The report following the staff away day exercise had highlighted a range of issues and it was felt that some of these needed addressing urgently.
Members of the Personnel committee explained that the purpose of the Councillor strategic review exercise was to mirror that of the staff exercise, and then bring together the outcomes to create a shared long term plan for the Council. It was an opportunity for Councillors to come together for the first time since March, and have an open and honest discussion about ways of working and the council culture and vision. Some of the issues highlighted in the staff SWOT analysis were already being addressed, such as the IT equipment. The staff away day had been arranged by the Personnel committee as the first step towards addressing some of the issues within the Council. The Deputy Clerk explained how the staff away day had worked, and added that the whole team needed to be brought together again in order to move forwards.
Cllr Emery left the meeting during this item due to another commitment.
7 IT Equipment & Support Contract
Members were asked to consider the pros and cons of a cloud-based or on-premises server, and to approve a solution. Mr Alun Rowe of Pentangle Technology Limited had prepared a report detailing the pros and cons and was available to answer any questions.
Members raised various questions relating to the two server options including back-up provision, scalability and access control. Mr Rowe explained that a cloud-based server was elastic and storage space can be increased / decreased as required over time. Instant access back-up of current and legacy files and emails would be automated and included, although it was advised that a physical back-up was retained for an extra level of security and archiving purposes. In terms of access, the Town Council (as the paying user) would retain overall control of the licence and could assign administrative rights to specific users. It was advised that an IT Support Provider be given a Partner ID to assist with setting-up and monitoring the system, but this Partner ID could be assigned to a different IT Support Provider in the future. Administration of the system was relatively straightforward and user friendly.
Members questioned which server solution was preferable for working from home and in the event of another lockdown? Cloud-based servers were leading the way in remote working, with greater flexibility, remote access and better download speeds. Mr Rowe advised that occasionally there were issues with downloading large files such as videos and 3D files, which could be overcome with selective synchronisation and organisation of files, and outages, which were rare. In terms of security, cloud-based servers were prone to cyberattacks however their security was so robust and continually updated that, providing good internal IT housekeeping was followed, cloud-based servers were more secure than old routers where security can be easily bypassed.
In terms of compatibility with iPads, it was explained that over the years, Apple and Microsoft worked much more seamlessly together with less glitches. Office 365 comes with OneDrive as standard and this would be synchronised with Microsoft Teams, although it was noted that Microsoft and DropBox were working closer together and that if the storage limit on OneDrive was exceeded then it can become expensive. OneDrive would be compatible with Apple products. Microsoft offered several tiers ranging from web-based programmes to the full business plan with all applications (Word, Excel etc.) included. The benefit of a cloud-based solution meant that these applications would be continually updated with the latest version.
A cloud-based server was known to be incompatible with the Information Centre till however there were options to work around this, ensuring that all data on the till was backed-up.
Overall Members felt the question was ‘why not go cloud?’ and thanked Mr Rowe for his advice. After the meeting, it was noted that Cllrs Cowell, Dyer and Champken-Woods and the Office Administration Manager would meet to prepare the tender document to send out in the next 5-6 days. There will be a fast-track date for tendering followed by scoring. Cllr Cowell advised the process was still on track however it was noted that laptops were hard to get hold of due to increased demand.
i) Thame Town Council adopts a cloud-based solution for its server.
The meeting concluded at 7:52pm.
Signed ……………………… Date ………………………..