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I am trying to make some sense out of seemingly endless discussions we have about dispensations.  Am I correct in saying all DPIs and other registerable interests attract equal weight in that the sanctions  of  being  unable to  participate in discussions  and vote are automatically applied?

It appears also that the list of reasons for allowing dispensation apply moreso to bodies other than PCs. It would seem therefore that for PCs it is the insufficient numbers reason is the most likely  “allowable” .

That being said it would seem therefore the most efficient way of dealing with dispensations is to delegate decisions to the clerk for them to review and give dispensations for a set period rather meeting by meeting. .

In the event of extraordinary circumstances, the clerk’s discretion could always be used.  I feel that dispensations should be the exception rather granted on demand.

Would be interested in how other PCs operate

by (5.0k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Requests for dispensations must be made in writing to the proper officer (the clerk). The clerk, if granting the dispensation, must then specify the period that the dispensation lasts for (maximum 4 years).

So yes, it should not be done on a meeting by meeting basis. If dispensations are being handed out ad-hoc after only a verbal request then the dispensation would not be lawful.

And yes i feel that dispensations should be granted on a rare basis an not be a routine tick box exercise.
by (4.7k points)
Before delegating ANYTHING to a single individual it would be prudent to assess the level of competence, capacity, capability and impartiality of any individual to effectively carry the responsibility and effective function of the delegation.
A basic starting point would be that the person likely to be granted the delegation first understood more of the detailed requirement than those they were supposed to advise / counsel.
In the case of delegating authority to “approve” a dispensation, this is a strange subject to seek to delegate “authority”for in any case since no “approval” can be granted unless it is first sought by the subject and the subject can neither be compelled to declare, nor seek a dispensation nor can they be prevented from participation at the point of discussion / vote if they don’t declare.
All a bit pointless really but hopefully rare enough not to have to spend too much time ruminating on.
0 votes
If you have adopted the model standing orders, you would need to amend your standing orders to permit delegation to the Clerk, as this is not included in the relevant paragraphs. It's worth noting that dispensations apply solely to pecuniary interests, so would normally be a rare occurrence in a parish council. You have the power to extend your use of dispensations to other forms of interests and, for the sake of transparency, this is worth considering. The most common application of this in a small rural parish relates to those councillors who are also trustees of a village hall or recreation ground charity, with which the council may have financial dealings. To achieve a quorum, it is often necessary to allow those trustees to participate as councillors in the decision-making process, so grant them a dispensation until the next cyclical parish council elections and ensure that they mention their non-pec interest and dispensation whenever they use it so that it is clear to all present and can be recorded in the minutes.
by (53.7k points)
I think I get now i.e. if you have a disclosable pecuniary interest you automatically cannot be involved  in any discussion or vote about that interest although you can be given a dispensation.  For all other non pecuniary declared interests the default situation is that you must declare the interest at each meeting but you by default can participate in any discussion and vote.  Having said that a Council can if it so chooses extend the no discussion/vote sanction to non pecuniary interests .
That's it. The legislation applies only to pecuniary interests and is contained in sections 30 to 34 of the Localism Act 2011. Local councils have the power to go further than the legal requirement if they so choose, but not to do anything that conflicts with the legislation.

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