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0 votes
We have this Monday an extraordinary meeting to decide what type of Skate Park we intend to proceed with.  The scheme was really the brainchild of the previous Council. It was never really run as a project (with a project board) but through a series of “expert working groups”. I have to say like many non involved Councillors I feel  somewhat exposed having to make such an important decision not knowing a lot about skate parks.

Any how as luck would have our chairman somehow made contact with a neighbouring Parish who has had recent experience of installing a pump track and offered to give us an informal presentation before our meeting if we would like it. Our chairman has accepted this offer and  circulated details to all Councillors and inviting them .  This has upset one group of Councillors who seek cancellation of this pre meeting and are citing non authorised contact with third parties and the fact that only the clerk can arrange any meetings . Now I am confident I can deal with the “councillor authority” bit but are there any specific protocols about the need for the clerk to arrange/authorise  any informal presentations/meetings. ?
by (5.0k points)

4 Answers

0 votes
As far as a PC ins concerned there is no such thing as an "informal" meeting. All meetings are formal and as such should be advertised and minited unless specific conditions apply.

Simplest solution is that the offer of the information be made as an agenda item as a presentation by the giver and as such open to councillors and public to question & points raised. It is about openness & transparency by the PC
by (27.2k points)
+1 vote
Just taking your first paragraph, the whole point of working groups is that they undertake the research into a project before it is presented to council for a decision.  Their research should cover any questions anyone might have and like any project, none of us are likely to be experts in any subject but at least it should be possible to get answers and if there are still concerns, no decision should be made.

I personally can't see a problem with a presentation by a neighbouring parish on their experiences.  In fact, I'd welcome it.  I believe it's important to be as fully informed as possible before making a decision so am a bit confused at the suggested that just because it's been organised by a councillor rather than the clerk, it should be cancelled.  I would argue that it is not a meeting but simply an opportunity to gain some information; something the working party could have organised for themselves as part of their fact finding but they've chosen to open it up to others.  That is to be welcomed.  No decisions can be taken at any informal presentation but it does give background information on their experiences so why is it not acceptable simply because someone other than the clerk arranged it?  
Aside from the risk that the meeting might be particularly long, one solution would be to incorporate the presentation into your formal meeting as Mentorman has suggested.  It is too late to change your agenda but as this is part of the agenda item to consider the proposal, I don't see the problem provided your standing orders permit the chair to invite public speaking as part of your meeting.
by (19.6k points)
0 votes
Firstly, I respectfully disagree with Mentorman.  As a clerk, I organised many informal meetings with and for my councillors but these were either a) in pursuance of a decision already taken, or b) to inform a possible future agenda item/decision.  To be clear - its the decision that requires formality - and on that point I agree with Mentorman.

Secondly, I think your chairman should be applauded for taking the initiative in that he/she has had the wit to put your council in possession of useful information that will aid the decision-making process and hopefully lead to the best possible outcome.
by (10.3k points)
edited by
Informal meetings are a real bugbear in our area.  A group of councillors had taken to having 'informal meetings' in the pub to discuss issues.  The rationale was that they 'wished to speak freely, but privately, to each other' and that they would however 'not be making decisions'.
Immediately, anyone can see the problems with this way of thinking.
Eventually the clerk stepped in and told them to stop them, as it gave the wrong impression.
I agree with Mentorman - keep any presentations within the framework of a formal meeting. And why not?
0 votes

Not to answer the main question, but to share a useful resource on skate parks:

"The Skateparks Project offers free impartial advice, resources and support to councils and communities looking to build skateparks."   I hope this is helpful.

by (140 points)
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