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0 votes
Are Terms of Reference for a working group a legal requirement or just a recommendation? Our Standing Orders contain no reference to working groups.
by (2.8k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Unlike committees which have their terms of reference defined when they are set up which lays down their powers of decision making and budget spending etc. A working party is a completely different animal. Working parties are formed short term to gather information on specific matters and report back their findings to whoever formed them ( PC or committee). Fact finding nothing else !.

Unfortunately we have some councils who see working parties as a substitute for a committee thereby negating the laid down structure and legal requirements of a committee.( public notice and agendas, recording of minutes). I can only think this is done to throw a blanket of secrecy over proceedings and decision making. The question is why would a good council wish to do such a thing?
by (25.7k points)
Thank you. I do know what a Working Group is and I shall be taking the lead, ensuring it is structured and notes are taken. It consists of a small group who are proactive and good at making sensible suggestions. It is to put ideas together for our 5 year plan. (Or 3 year, not sure which it's supposed to be!) Nothing can go on the plan until it is then passed by full Council, so will then of course be put on the agenda and then minuted. We are not trying to hide anything. But experience has shown me that a small group of interested and pro-active people will achieve more and more quickly than the full council - 14 members. I just wish to know if it is a legal requirement to have Terms of Reference.
In reply to "The question is why would a good council wish to do such a thing" I have to reply it is when it is being told that it is totally legitimate to do so and accommodated so. There unfortunately is no control mechanism available to deter the inevitable determination of  self belief that the course of action is legitimate when the preferred outcome however short lived is achieved.
+1 vote
I've never been 100% clear on this, but in standing order 4c we refer to advisory committees and sub-committees that need not include councillors, which differ from the standing committees in 4d. So I presume that these advisory committees are what we often refer to as working parties, task and finish groups, and a host of other names. So 4di dictates that, for "other committees", the council shall determine their terms of reference and all the ensuing details, ignoring those that refer specifically to standing committees.

Taking a wider view, you can't delegate something without defining the extent of the delegation, particularly with regard to the use of council resources. I find it helpful to include timelines in delegation too, as it provides an incentive to stay focussed on the task in hand.
by (52.8k points)
Thank you DavetheClerk. Some helpful advise. I'll make drafting some terms the first item when we meet. We won't be using any Council resources other than using our Zoom account as the Clerk will not be present.

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