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HR Panels and Panels in General

0 votes
It appears that som councillors have abolished committees for panel to avoid transparency. They have set up an HR Panel to report to a Policy and Resources Committee. They also have a Grant Committee and an Events Committee. The HR Panel has only one female and that is an ex officio member (the mayor) and everyone is retirement age. Yet all the staff are women and working age. We have several councillors who are female and or working age but they were not given the opportunity to be on the panel. Is this wrong? What can I do about it?
by (1.1k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
Challenge the legality of these panels.  If you were not given the opportunity to be on the panel, somebody has possibly made a decision outside the normal meeting framework as to who goes on the panel. Ask the Clerk for the minuted resolution which stipulated which councillors went on the panel. If it is not provided, report it to the external auditor and vote against any of its recommendations on the ground that its creation was not endorsed by a resolution from full council.
by (34.0k points)
Thank you very much. People are setting up more Panels and not asking who is interested. They haven't been voted in, yet. They are setting up that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor be ex officio and the Chair of each committee (policy and resources, allotments, Planning) are on the Panels. This is because the people they want on the Panels are these people. Everyone is not being asked.
In the first instance, ask for all of the information via a freedom of information request. And do use the "what do they know" website so that all correspondence generated by the request can be viewed in the public domain. Your PC should have given you a copy or access to the previous years external audit report, which should have the contact details of the auditor on it. Let us know how the FOI progresses as you may have to ask for an internal review and lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
The Clerk is refusing to answer my emails so until I threatened to get the newspaper involved the mayor and clerk replied with confirmation of receipt. I have asked for the auditors email and contact details and other various items under the Freedom of Information Act last night as I saw it mentioned on a previous post
Go to and click on your county. It will provide you with details of your external auditor. They are appointed on a county-wide basis, not by individual councils. Your internal auditor, appointed by your council, will have submitted an audit report this summer, which must be displayed on the Council's website. It should have their details, or at least some identifying information.
Thank you! I have emailed this to fellow councillors and even the staff that withheld it! So very helpful!
+1 vote

The Local Government Act doesn't mention panels at all. There is no legal framework for them. You cannot act unlawfully in the use of panels, as there is no law. Panels, under many different names, are a means by which some councils work with the wider community and, as such, they have an important role to perform. The expectation is that panels offer a greater level of public access and transparency than the more formal structures. I have panels at present on children's play/adult gym and on communications. They're a forum for wider public consultation and they make recommendations to the Council.

However, whilst we cannot limit the powers of panels, their existence doesn't alter the requirement for all council decisions to be made lawfully in accordance with the LGA. Panel decisions have no greater legal status than a conversation in a pub. The council's standing orders and financial regulations, particularly if the model documents are used, provide a robust framework for legal, transparent and democratic government. It is a requirement that financial and staffing issues are made by a council or its committees, in public where possible, and this power doesn't extend to secret meetings of private groups.

In my original response, I referred to sub-committees, as this is a route used by some councils to avoid public scrutiny. Contrary to popular opinion, sub-committee meetings do not have to be open to the public.

So to sum up, there's no point in challenging the legality of the panels per se, but you should ask your Clerk to explain how the decisions that are made align with the Council's standing orders on decision making and the legal framework on which they are based.

by (50.1k points)
In sitting bull's council, it would appear that the panels are being used as alternative decision making bodies in place of minuted resolutions where all councillors have a right to attend. In my view their covert creation and alleged decision making should be challenged robustly.
Thank you very much both of your. Yes, it is being used this way.

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