Questions about town and parish councils
Follow Councillor Q&A on X/Twitter

Follow us on X/Twitter

0 votes

I have  a situation in which at a recent Committee meeting (Sep 22) we discussed a motion from the clerk that all correspondence from me  to a nominated  Councillor officer must be routed via the clerk ie I was not to contact them direct . At the meeting  I challenged this as contravening our Standing orders (the motion also chose to extend it to our rights as private individuals).  At that meeting it was decided to refer it to the next Full Council meeting

Consequent to the meeting I was forwarded an E mail from the Council Officer (Oct 22) formally requesting the above. The Council Officer's E mail inferred it was in response to the clerks written request. FOI investigations revealed that it was in fact in response to a phone call from the Clerk. I checked things out with the Council and the monitoring officer and remain confident that the Council officers actions are wrong but did not complain .  However, come the next Full Council meeting (Dec 22) it was not on the agenda.  I subsequently submitted a motion to the next Full Council meeting (Jan 23) which has been rejected by the Clerk and Chairman advising that it would be deferred until the next Annual Parish meeting at which time all SOs would be subject to the usual Annual review ie by next Council .

However such matters are year round delegated to our Finance Committee where their Terms of Reference clearly state that they should regularly review our Standing orders and Fin Regs.  Our standing orders say that no motion submitted can be rejected unless the Chairman on referral by the clerk finds it “ vexatious, scurrilous or otherwise improper.”  Needless to say that Chairmen of the Full Council and Finance Committees are part the Inner sanctum who control everything .  Now I wish to raise this at the next Finance meeting but of course there is nothing on the agenda.   What is the correct procedure to bring it up ie should I raise a point of order before the meeting starts  or should I raise “a complaint” by another route some how .   What should I procedurally  do ?  I think the clerk has realised that she might have got this a bit wrong and wants it to go away

by (5.0k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
"We discussed a motion from the clerk..."  Hmm.

In what capacity are you corresponding with a council officer? Why is this necessary?

Why is the review of the standing orders delegated to the Finance Committee?

Do you have elections in May?

So many questions!
by (53.3k points)
I was charged to produce a ROWIP.   During this process I was constantly directed by the clerk as to precisely what I could do and how I should do it.  I politely advised her that having been tasked to produce a plan it was for me to decide what format it would take and for Councillors then to consider. I explained to  her that whilst she could advise me it was my decision alone as to the format of my report . As part of the process contact was necessary with our Highways Authority in order to consider how to tackle the problems encountered.  The clerk works 2 days a week.   At the relevant meeting the minutes recorded
Limitations on Councillors’ Authority LGA 1972 s101
It was noted that Councillors are not to act independently and cannot make a decision or write official correspondence on behalf of the Parish Council unless authorized to do so by this Committee. This would go to Full Council for further discussion as ways to work together effectively continued to be worked out
I made it clear that I intended to challenge this as I believed  it contravened our SOs .   Then came the letter and ever since I have been trying to get it on an agenda .  Don’t know why SOs are  on F and GP TOR  but yes we have May elections
I think your Clerk has misunderstood the meaning of the phrase "discharge of any of their functions" in Section 101. In my councils, this doesn't extend to locking councillors in cupboards between meetings to prevent them from talking to anybody! We all know that councillors can't make decisions independently of our councils, but research, fact-finding, fault-reporting, drafting of papers for discussion etc are all part of the role of a councillor in most councils. How can you table an informed motion if you can't be informed?
0 votes
If you know of any other Councillor that wishes to raise the same point, you can both request an extraordinary meeting of the Council to discuss the matter. This cannot be stopped, it's statute. Should be Standing Order 6b on the model standing orders. If you're not using model standing orders, it still applies because it's statute and you can still use the mechanism. If the Chair fails to respond to the request within seven days, you and your fellow councillor can convene a meeting. You have to follow the standard process  (three clear days notice, appropriate time, venue and agenda published publicly etc).

You both have to sign the agenda. If the chair, vice chair and clerk refuse to attend, you'll need at least one other councillor to turn up to be quorate (possibly more - check your standing orders on this, but typically it's at least a third or a minimum of three) otherwise you won't be able to take any decisions. As well as the point you want on the agenda, you'll have to include the necessary items too - e.g. apologies and other legal stuff as well as anything in your Standing Orders like public questions. If you're without a chair for the meeting, you elect a chair for the meeting as an item of business. If you're without a clerk, take basic notes as well as make an audio recording. Only note the key things for the minutes - if any Councillor arrives/leaves (and time), obviously the way any vote goes, any point and time where the meeting is suspended. Don't bother making in depth verbatim notes for the minutes, the bare essentials is more than enough. Get them written up ASAP and send them around to the clerk and all councillors as a draft. They should be signed off at the next regular meeting (with anyone not in attendance abstaining from the vote).
by (990 points)
"...If the Chair fails to respond to the request within seven days, you and your fellow councillor can convene a meeting..."

You have fallen into the vocabulary trap again....

The actual wording is:

If the chairman refuses to call an extraordinary meeting of the council after a requisition for that purpose, signed by two members of the council, has been presented to him, or if, without so refusing, the chairman does not call an extraordinary meeting within seven days after such a requisition has been presented to him, any two members of the council, on that refusal or on the expiration of those seven days, as the case may be, may forthwith convene an extraordinary meeting of the council.

The point of detail being - what is it to "call" a meeting?
Is it to convene or simply to set the date?

The advice I have previously received from county ALC is that it is to set the date not to actually convene.  I found that difficult to reconcile since if that were true then, in effect, the chair could set a date 6 months hence and that would be sufficient to prevent the extraordinary meeting being convened any sooner by the 2 Cllrs.  That was the advice received from county ALC.

Another open question....

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

2,976 questions
5,823 answers
8,159 comments
10,121 users
Google Analytics Alternative