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

Follow us on X/Twitter

0 votes

We have a Councillor who is chairman of charity which receives a considerable grant from the PC.  That charity has recently  changed its constitution so that the Council no longer has the facility to appoint a Councillor to sit on the charity's management committee.   When this was noted as agenda item   I asked the Councillor involved if he would provide certain details of how our grant was spent (an SLA with third party) but he refused stating that he considered it confidential.  This question was not recorded in the draft minutes and I  will ask when the minutes are approved to include the following "A  request of Cllr xxx  to provide details of their  Service  Level agreement with their third-party contractors was refused on the grounds that he considered them confidential".  I understand that the clerk is said to wary of naming Councillors but are there any rules preventing it or should/must  I refer to him as "the Chairman xxx"

by (4.7k points)

4 Answers

0 votes
The naming of a councillor is the side issue here.

The fundamental point is the suggestion that what the parish council's grant is is spent on is somehow confidential.  That is absolutely wrong.

If the council is granting public money to a third party then it has every right to know where the money has gone and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise.
by (9.8k points)
0 votes
When the charity changed its constitution, did it follow the correct legal process, or did the committee just decide to adopt something different? In a situation such as this, it is unlikely that the charity would have the power to make such a change, unless the Council asked to be removed from the list of appointing bodies.
by (52.9k points)
The position is that we pay a grant to a charity of which a Councillor is the Chairman.  That charity in turn spends the majority of that grant with a supplier (a CIC)  to the extent the Chairman  has a pecuniary interest which he declares. Information about that CIC and how their income is spent is in the public domain but I have received a sanction under the code of conduct for revealing those details . It has therefore been made clear that the transaction we must query is the funded charity's arrangement with their supplier.  Details of that arrangement is contained within an SLA.  One assumes in order to protect this information that the charity has changed its constitution, advised the PC  and when this change was noted  I asked the question.    At the meeting last night  it was made clear to me before the meeting that the clerk was unhappy about  me naming an individual Councillor and suggested that I did not proceed .  During the meeting when I did in fact challenge the draft minutes  the clerk dithered and  mentioned something about she only had to record resolutions.  There was then  silence when I said that I was quite prepared to put a motion to the  members about including it .  Eventually I asked that the Chairman take time out to consider the request but that in the meantime he should not sign the minutes . The next move is now mine and I guess it all revolves around what can go in the minutes and how do I pursue that?
The Clerk is strictly correct about recording just the resolution but as I’ve said countless times in the past what if orally you’re given false information on which you base your decision and there’s no record ?
Also as elected officials I feel your name should be recorded if you speak so the electors know what you are up to
Also this is public money and you as an elected official have every right to know how it is spent in fact it is your duty to do so
You don’t mention it but if you aren’t recording meetings start now
Charities can’t change their constitution without first informing the Charity Commission have they done that ? As a Councillor I don’t think it unreasonable to ask
Stick to your guns about the minutes and put it to the vote
You then have various options depending on what support you have one of which is stopping payment due to a lack of transparency
In any organisation complacency and defensiveness can build up I’ve   publicly been accused of suggesting the Clerk is a thief because I asked about cash receipts that weren’t included in the accounts or  audited !
Spot on Jules. What also has to be checked out is of course the Council's donations policy which should cover the ability of the council to request and get whatever information they specify on the donations use by the recipient ( whether charity or local group) thereby meeting the council's obligation on fiscal prudence
You can't be sanctioned for revealing something that is in the public domain (unless it's only in the public domain because you revealed it!)
That’s what I thought as well
Well apparently I said things in a way that in the MOs opinion  "  leads me to believe that you did not behave in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful". Does it worry me not a bit
If my MO followed that criteria I’d have been lodging multiple complaints against certain Councillor on a monthly basis and I’ve got recordings to back it up
0 votes
I may be repeating something I've said previously on this one, but if the service matters to the community, why doesn't the Council commission it directly? That would give you full control over the details of the contract, with the option to tender professionally and retender periodically to ensure value for money. Cut out the middleman.
by (52.9k points)
0 votes
Hi  As John notes, any grant to the charity will be on the understanding that the charity says what it is for, and then provides evidence as to what it has been spent on.  However, the council needs to write to the charity and ask for that information, backed up with whatever agreement it put in place when handing over the money.

Hence, your resolution would be that the council write to the charity asking for this information (tho it should be doing this anyway).   I am not sure how councillors could (morally if not legally) vote such a grant through without a requirement as to complete transparency as to how it was spent.

Re the councillor being the chair of the charity, they hold no more power than the other trustees, indeed there is no need for the charity to appoint one, other than when required to chair meetings.

Re the charity resolution to remove the power for council to appoint 'councillor trustees', the charity commission expect the council to be consulted prior to such a change if possible.  If not then the council needs to raise a complaint with the charity, and if that fails, then to complain to the charity commission.
by (2.5k points)

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

2,917 questions
5,660 answers
8,001 comments
10,037 users
Google Analytics Alternative