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0 votes
Our clerk was on leave at our last parish council meeting, and our RFO stepped in to minute the meeting.  There was an item of contention on the agenda, and a parishioner asked for their comments in open forum to be minuted.  Some councillors who abstained from the vote also asked for their reasons to be minuted.  Their request was for the council to consult the parish prior to making a decision.  The RFO has refused to include either in the minutes, though he agreed to publish a statement alongside the minutes.  Can the clerk overrule this, on their return from leave?  Is it reasonable to include comment occasionally, for contentious issues?  I am interested in your opinion.
by (410 points)

5 Answers

0 votes
Minutes are for decisions only, they are not a verbatim record of the meeting.  If you do it on this occasion it could set a precedent and you will end up with pages of minutes.  Our clerk will put one of two sentences but will never put names in apart from the Councillors.  All that needs to be put is the council agreed to defer the decision as it was felt the Parish needed to be consulted first, or something like that and maybe a quick reason why, but not what was actually said.
by (3.8k points)
0 votes
Members of the Council may ask for a record of who voted for and against a motion to be included in the minutes.  The Clerk must record this information if so requested.  This doesn't extend to reasons etc.
by (53.3k points)
–1 vote

I have to say the elected members who requested there reasons(s) to be minuted really not helped your officers. Presumably they are aware that minutes are only meant to record decisions. Someone likened a similar instance locally to a child taking advantage of a substitute teaching whilst there regular teacher is away. For what its worth my view is that all meetings should be recorded (and audio retained).I'd have expected our Chair to step in as well making it clear minutes will only be decisions setting out basis for the approach. Am seeing poor Clerks regularly having pages of "minutes" impossible to produce and impossible to accurately capture everything.       

by (8.5k points)
+1 vote
It’s neither difficult nor onerous to include whatever detail is deemed necessary to provide some context to how a decision was reached.
Striving for the bare minimum - who attended, who had dispensation, what was resolved - is a poor service to the public - you know, the customer - and is the refuge of those that might seek to dissemble and obscure later examination of the WHY of a decision.
But to get back to the source question - can the clerk amend mins of a meeting they didn’t attend - well, yes, IF their employer doesn’t take proper charge of them.
It is the PC not the clerk that voted to ratify the mins.
by (21.3k points)
That's what retained audio recordings is for. I remain convinced minutes should be concise records of decisions nothing more nothing less. If Parish/Town councils are committed to transparency should be proper background papers & audio of meetings on website archived for perpetuity. Minutes shouldn't be hijacked and become war and peace.  Where do you draw the line once one asks for there view to be recorded.  Quickly descends into sometimes 15+ wanting it. With proper background papers & audio it should be clear how and why decisions were taken without burdening officers and dragging them into the political squabbling over a legal document that should just be a clear record of decisions
I wouldn’t normally disagree and IF all of the background data and info was (a) properly produced (b) openl source then I’d probably be inclined to agree.
So, in theory / ideal world I do agree, in practice and until the world moves closer to ideal, I remain of the view that some detail is not inappropriate in minutes.
+1 vote
All really interesting, thanks - I think it shows that different clerks have the license to differing approaches - all acceptable legally.  I agree that minutes should be as brief as possible, but my personal view is that for exceptional, contentious issues, it wouldn't harm to include a little more detail.
Many thanks for your responses.
by (410 points)
I certainly agree that there's a fine line between recording everything verbatim (not a good thing in my opinion for a whole host of reasons I won't go into here) and recording the bare minimum.  There's a balance to be achieved between the two which gives context to the decision but doesn't become ammunition for those who are looking for an excuse to overturn an otherwise legitimate decision.  A good experienced clerk can do this but to be fair to the inexperienced that's quite a skill.  At the end of the day, a decision is a decision rightly or wrongy and one which is made by and therefore binding upon the whole.
Just to be clear, once minutes have been adopted/approved by council, they cannot be amended so to go back to the original question, yes the clerk can amend the minutes produced by the locum (and I recall doing so myself when clerk, largely to correct spellings and grammar) but once adopted, the only route is to bring the subject up at a later meeting and note any comments then.
“...Just to be clear, once minutes have been adopted/approved by council, they cannot be amended...”

This is incorrect.
Minutes, after validation by PC, CAN be amended where an error or inaccuracy has been discovered.
It must however be by a motion to correct at a later meeting and the motion should cross-reference the original.
I refer to my last sentence which I believe covers this point
I’d refer you to the observation that you have diametrically opposed sentences within a single post.
I thought that sort of ambiguity was the privilege of Downing Street

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