The basics no minutes, no decision so no legal actions. no agenda no meeting

  • Any Council, committee or sub committee meeting must have an agenda containing details of the business to be transacted.
  • It is difficult to view a parish council agenda in isolation, just as the minutes cannot be considered alone.
  • The agenda, the meeting itself and the minutes themselves comprise the legal decision making process of a town or parish council.
  • By default there will be a considerable degree of overlap between these events.
  • As a result this Best Practice Guide includes matters relating to the agenda, the meeting and minutes.
  • It is hoped that this will put items of procedure and Best Practice into context.

BPG 21 A CPALC Best Practice Guide to Parish, Town, & Community Council Agendas

 

This article is a basic introduction to the subject it is not intended to provide comprehensive in depth coverage.

 

Article Contents - Click on a link below

Must Town and Parish Councils have an agenda?

Must Town and Parish Councils have minutes?

Publication of draft minutes, meeting agendas and working papers

Whose responsibility is the agenda for Parish Council meetings?

Can I see Parish Council minutes and papers?

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Can a Parish Council Chairman refuse to put items on the agenda?

What issues can my Parish Council discuss?

How do I get my Parish Council to discuss a matter at a meeting?

Can a parish council discuss and vote on items not on the agenda?

Is the Council Chairman responsible for the accuracy of the minutes?

 

Must Town and Parish Councils have an agenda?

Yes, the 1972 Local Government Act defines 3 clear separate requirements when any meeting of a Town or Parish Council, a committee or sub-committee is called...

  • The Notice of Meeting which must be published
  • The Legal Summons to individual Councillors
  • Details of the "Business to be Transacted" often called the agenda

The term agenda is a misnomer which has come into common usage.

  • The "Business to be transacted" is not a list of items for debate or decision but also includes all the supporting papers.
  • This is give Councillors adequate time to read and review the items to be discussed.
  • Failure to do this may result in any decisions or actions being open to legal challenge.

 

Must Town and Parish Councils have minutes?

  • All meetings of councils, their committees and sub committees must have and keep minutes.
  • No minutes no decisions, it's that simple.
  • If councils make decisions to do things or spend taxpayers money and there is no clear minute recording what it was agreed to do then no decision has been made.
  • If a council proceeds with an action which is not recorded in the minutes then the action or spending is open to legal challenge.
  • Minutes which are approved by the council are evidence in a court of law.

 

Publication of draft minutes, meeting agendas and working papers

  • The draft minutes of all Council, Committee and Sub Committee meetings should be published no more than 1 month after the relevant meeting.
  • The draft minutes should be approved at the following relevant meeting.
  • Agendas and full working papers for all Council, Committee and Sub Committee meetings should be published at least 3 clear days before the relevant meeting. Source DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)
  • It should be noted that there is currently no legal requirement to publish the agenda or minutes in a prominent place in the parish.
  • The legal requirement is that the Notice of Meeting must be published.
  • There is a legal right to view, access or inspect the minutes wherever or by whom they are kept.

 

Whose responsibility is the agenda for Parish Council meetings?

  • It is the responsibility of the parish council i.e. the councillors to decide what they wish to discuss not that of the clerk or  the parish council chairman
  • To suggest that an unelected individual may decide what a legally elected democratic body can and may discuss is laughable
  • It is the responsibility of the clerk or proper officer to physically produce the agenda.
  • The clerk should include agenda items requested by parish councillors and local residents.
  • It is the collective responsibility of all councillors comprising the council to decide what should be on an agenda for discussion.
  • There is a clear difference between the decision as to the contents of the agenda and the physical production of the agenda.
  • The clerk is an employee and is not elected consequently they have no part to play in deciding what the council may discuss.

 

Can I see Parish Council minutes and papers?

  • Yes. The Parish Council is required to make a range of documents open to inspection.
  • They've described which ones are open in a "Publication Scheme" under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • As with any public body, the Freedom of Information Act applies to all Town, Parish Councils and Parish Meetings.
  • You have specific legal rights to view your council's minutes.

 

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