Follow Councillor Q&A on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter

0 votes
Our Proper Officer has let an Agenda Item be for electronic copies only for agendas using the Town Council Email Address.
We don't have an office that is open (not COVID friendly and all work from home) so we, as councillors, will have to pay for our own WiFi, Electronic Devices, and printing costs. We do not receive an allowance and councillors are against an allowance. We would only receive a summons and the Index by recorded delivery and have to use the Town Council email address (which only half the people use) or else its not the Councils responsibility if we don't receive electronic copies.
How did the Proper Officer allow this on the agenda, and are we, as councillors, really required to go on our public Town Council website to print our own agendas if they aren't received by email?
This means if an Extraordinary Meeting gets called, I will literally have to check the website everyday to check.

How is it legal that I have to find my own agendas on the public website because the clerks will no longer print them out *a fellow councillors advised the sending of agendas in the post coat too much money*, on my own PC because we have no PC for our use, using my own WiFi because we don't have anywhere to go to use WiFi, using my own printer I have to pay for, using my own paper I have to pay for?
We don't want to use the Town Cpuncil email addresses because it's a different platform than we use, many of us are also borough councillors so use that, and it means we have no help for IT issues. On top of the fact that they are trying to make (fellow councillors) use their own devices for this.
Am I expected to be looking at my phone during meetings to see the agenda and read it? Is this not against the Equality Act?
by (1.1k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer
The agenda for a meeting may only be sent electronically to a member of the council if that member has given, and not subsequently withdrawn, consent to receive it by email. Otherwise, it must be sent or delivered on paper. Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, Para 10 includes the detailed regulations. Making the agenda available on your website does not satisfy the requirement for the clerk to deliver the document.

It is now considered normal practice for councillors to have dedicated email accounts for their council work, so your clerk is right to advocate this. If any councillors do not have a suitable device for accessing emails, the council should provide one, as this is an essential tool for the job. For incidental expenses such as ink and paper, the council should have an expenses policy and procedure that allows those councillors who wish to do so to reclaim their out-of-pocket expenses. Your telephone and wifi charges will not increase as a consequence of being a councillor, so you should only reclaim those if you have installed the facility exclusively for council work.
by (52.8k points)
selected by
It isn’t normal practice for Councillors to have their own dedicated email accounts for Council business it is essential
I spent many years trying to get my PC to set them up before the penny dropped
Firstly there’s the concern about GDPR and secondly how would you handle a FOI request ?
I can't argue with that Jules, but the challenge for me has been to impose the discipline on my councillors of actually using their dedicated email accounts. They just can't get their heads around it and continue to use their personal accounts. As you rightly point out, the FOI would then involve wading through their entire personal email history.
0 votes

DavetheClerk has already answered you about the right to have a paper copy of agendas posted or delivered to you. But wanted to reply to your comment:  We do not receive an allowance and councillors are against an allowance.

All Councillors are entitled to receive an allowance. It is their personal decision whether or not to take, it is not a Council decision. The Clerk should be contacting Councillors individually to ask if the want to claim their allowance and replies should be sent directly back to her.  And no Councillor should be frowned upon for taking it. You are remarking about paper for using your own printer - this is exactly the sort of thing the allowance is for.

by (2.8k points)
I have no direct experience of member allowances, as all of my councils have resolved not to pay them, but looking at the legislation, there seems to be little discretion. The rules for England are contained in The Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003. Regulation 24 defines Member as an Elected Member of the council, so co-opted members are ineligible. Regulation 25(1) states that the allowance must be the same for every member, apart from a separate chairman's allowance, so in order for one person to receive it, every elected member must. Regulation 32 states that a member may forgo his entitlement by notice in writing to the proper officer.

In other words, you must allocate the same sum to every elected member, but they may subsequently decide not to accept it.

It's also worth noting that the allowances are an annual payment which must be applied pro rata for shorter periods of service, including provision for repayment on death or resignation.
This is an extract from the Welsh Renumeration panel:   You may formally opt out of receiving all or any payments by writing a letter to the council clerk advising them of your wish not to receive payments. It is expected that all members will respect the decision of colleagues to be paid without exerting pressure or influence not to do so. If you leave the office of councillor before the end of your term, you may need to pay back some of the payments.

I've also found this regarding co-option:  The successful candidate is a councillor in their own right and is no different to any other member; co-option is a legitimate form of election as part of the election process.
We tried to do an allowance and it was voted against and will continue to be voted against. The majority doesn't think we should, which I think is ludicrous.
Is there a tax law or any law that states we shouldn't have either use our own money to print out our agendas?
On the agenda, it states for the motion: if any member wishes to have hard copies of any documents, agendas or minutes, they still have the option to print them out independently, but it unfair to expect Andover's taxpayers to foot the bill for what is merely our choice.
Members all have IT equipment that is capable of viewing this electronic full copy of the agenda, and appendices, at office 365 is useable via an app, on a Android, Windows, Apple, and Linux, also through Web browsers by visiting office.com

I am really upset about this as officers have not send me agendas and information required and I haven't a printer at home and we have to use our own printer, own out IT. How could an officer have put this on the agenda?
As I said in my first answer, the law requires the clerk to provide you with a paper copy if you wish to receive one. Inform your clerk that the motion contravenes the requirements of Schedule 12, paragraph 10 of the Local Government Act 1972 and is therefore unlawful.
A Clerk is able to put suitable items on the agenda. With some Councils the agenda would be very scant if they didn't. But it's the Council that makes the decisions. But do as DavetheClerk says and inform the Clerk the motion is unlawful. If it's still on the agenda at the meeting repeat this for all Councillors to hear.

I have read and reread DavetheClerks comments about the English regs regarding allowances and I still interpret it the same as the regs here in Wales, that all members have an allowance. BUT you can opt out by informing the Clerk and it's a personal decision not a Council decision. So no voting required.
My concern is that the regulations appear to require the council to vote to take an allowance and, presumably, to budget for it accordingly. Whilst I agree with Jann's post about entitlement to take it without question or judgement, a public debate is required for potentially a single councillor to make the case for everybody to be provided with an allowance they then forgo in order that one councillor may receive their allowance. If the council does not vote in favour of the allowance in the first place, there is no allowance available for a single councillor to claim. That would be very uncomfortable for the individual concerned.
We had four councillors (myself included) that wishes to have £100 a month as we were doing most of the work for the council. When it was voted against, we decided to stop putting our names down for committees and now hardly anything is getting done by councillors. We were even lambasted by  borough councillor in the public who receives over £8000 in an allowance. It was really upsetting and this is even more upsetting.
I really sympathise with you. As a Chairperson myself I have spoken to quite few other Chairs. It seems that most councils have the same problem. Some Councillors turn up just for the monthly meeting, have their say, cast their vote and  then do nothing until they appear at the next meeting. Then there is a core of Councillors that are actually proactive and do all the work and attend Committee meetings. Whilst this is very unfair, there is unfortunately nothing that can be done about it.  A Councillors only commitment is to attend the monthly full Council meeting.

After some more online research a have to concede that DavetheClerk is correct in saying that in England Councils vote on whether or not the Councillors can have their allowance. (He's a great Clerk).I think this is appalling. I am on 5 committees and probably work more hours than our Clerk but without a salary. I have no qualms about taking my allowance, which in Wales I am entitled to. It's also appalling that your representative body, NALC, have not addressed this with the Government. The representative body here is One Voice Wales and they do a good job. They have regular meetings, send regular e-newsletters about legislation and other matters and liaise with Welsh Government frequently. NALC should take a leaf out of the book!

Although I wished you could receive your annual allowance, I'm not sure about the legality of asking for £100 per month. But again, this may vary in England. Here in Wales Councillors cannot be paid for any work. Even if they stepped in for an absent clerk or designed a website they cannot receive payment. Just their annual allowance.
There are many elements of the Welsh way of working that I hope will be incorporated into the long-overdue rewrite of the English regulations.

Jann is correct about the sums of money. My district council conducted an independent remuneration panel review of allowances this summer. The panel's recommendation for a members' basic allowance was that it should be capped at 1% of the district council's basic allowance and the chairman's allowance should be capped at 2%. They were very generous in rounding these figures up from £49.57 to £50 for members and a life-changing £100 for the chair! These are annual figures, not monthly, so your claim falls way outside the scope of the members' allowances regime. Several local parishes were already paying a chair's allowance well above these rates.

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Clares Cushions logo Peacock cushion

Clare's Cushions creates beautiful hand made cushions and home accessories from gorgeous comtemporary fabrics. We have a fantastic selection of prints including Sophie Allport and Orla Kiely designs and most covers can be ordered either alone or with a cushion inner. Buying new cushions is an affordable and effective way to update your home interior, they're also a great gift idea. Visit our site now

Google Analytics Alternative