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Distribution of Minutes

0 votes
My Parish Council have not made minutes public (except by appointment to inspect the minute book - difficult since the Office is (still) closed because of the pandemic)  since early 2020. Historically minutes have been published on the website but this communications medium has been ignored, despite my trying to 'force the issue' it is ignored by others. Am I able (legally) to publish minutes for the community on my own website? I am told there are no minutes of meeting held through 'zoom' during the pandemic since these were deemed 'extra ordinary meetings - is this legal?
by (140 points)
edited by

4 Answers

0 votes
Minutes are a public record and should be made public either in draft form and then changed when they have been approved,  or uploaded when approved at a meeting.  Surprised this has not been picked up by your internal auditor or by anybody else.
by (3.8k points)
Am I wrong in my understanding that minutes do not HAVE to be available on a website but only 'available for inspection'. Do you mean the Auditor (rather than internal auditor). It has been picked up (by me) but no action taken.
0 votes
How are they meeting their legal obligations under the Transparency or the Freedom of Information Acts?
by (22.8k points)
FOI would need a specific request (and met by fees for copies) What are the legal requirements of 'transparency' (as opposed to 'best practice')
You are correct that it is best practice but the govt are firm in their stance that agendas, papers and minutes have to be published in order to comply with the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and must be published on a website that is publicly accessible (para 32)
Thanks - another avenue to travel down although the Council is not a 'small' council as defined it is one of those that 'falls between' regulations of small and large and although the suggestion is that they should follow the regulations of small authorities my understanding is that they do not HAVE to and effectively unregulated (save for audit purposes)
0 votes
From the Information Commissioner's website:-

"As well as responding to requests for information, you must publish information proactively. The Freedom of Information Act requires every public authority to have a publication scheme, approved by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and to publish information covered by the scheme.

The scheme must set out your commitment to make certain classes of information routinely available, such as policies and procedures, minutes of meetings, annual reports and financial information.

To help you do this the ICO has developed a model publication scheme. There are two versions; one for most public authorities and one for the few public authorities that are only covered for part of the information they hold.

The information you release in accordance with the publication scheme represents the minimum you must disclose."

Does your council have a publication scheme and, if so, what does it say about access to minutes? The minutes are a public document, so you may re-publish them. Whether the Zoom meetings were the normal scheduled meetings or extraordinary meetings, minutes must be kept and published as evidence of the business transacted and the decisions made.
by (50.1k points)
I agree with Dave
Are the details of the publication scheme on the website ?
If not request a copy via “ whatdotheyknow “ as it keeps it public
No Publication Scheme policy that I can locate - I will be asking the Parish Clerk for a copy (always fun!)
0 votes

If the Council want to behave like dinosaurs, sadly they still can as long as they state how paper copies can be viewed, but they must comply with the publication scheme. If that says minutes are available to view in hard copy form in the office, it must be opened on request. I can't see any reason why you can't publish the minutes on your own website unless they contain confidential or exempt information. 

I think you can display the minutes on your own website:  The Open and accountable local government guide for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government  says on page 16    "It is a criminal offence if, without a reasonable excuse, a person who has in his or her custody a documentxiv, which the national rules require to be made available to the public,refuses to supply the whole or part of the document or intentionally obstructs any other person/s from disclosing such a document.    See

by (34.0k points)
Graeme I’ve been told by a solicitor that the Legislation you have quoted does not apply to Town / Parish Councils, have you any evidence it does ?
Which part of the above has the solicitor challenged Jules, the need to comply with the publication scheme, or the obstruction of access to the public to a national rules document they have access to?
The text I quoted from p16 related to part 3 Access to non-executive meetings and documents of a local government body, other than parish and town councils. Perhaps that is what the solicitor picked up on. However the same phrase is also quoted in P24 relating to Part 4 Access to meetings and documents of parish and town councils

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