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0 votes
I have recently managed to successfully get a resolution passed  which places the emphasis on Councillors to monitor their own 6 month rule and make sure they don' t fall foul of the parameters .  After this I asked that the clerk formally set up a record of attendances on a spreadsheet .  She has refused stating that the resolution passed ownership on to individual Councillors and it was now nothing to do with her and felt that Councillors would be upset with her  maintaining "secret records" .  I am staggered .   Could I ask how other Councils manage the process of disqualifying non attending Councillors and who is responsible for what
by (4.9k points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
In terms of the substantive resolution personally think it shouldnt have been required in the first place as member attendance is a member responsibility already. Its nothing more than courtesy (checking on welfare & reminding them of the rules and dispensation process i.e submitting valid apologies that is accepted by members resetting clock or a specific dispensation for period of time). As a council your officers really ought to maintain a register of attendance (published) as a matter of course in terms of day-to-day governance & transparency. Takes seconds to have a simple spreadsheet (minutes acting as the official data source for attendance). Some more advanced sector websites even have it all built in. This record should be public... as clear public interest and consistent with openess & transparency principles. In terms of the disqualification process principal authority locally assess the potential breach of the six month rule usually triggered via a complaint/notification locally. They then issue the relevant notices etc once they have checked definitely didnt do any qualifying activity during the six months.
by (8.5k points)
0 votes
Agree "Progress" comment and +1.

I'd suggest it is just as common for PCs to "misunderstand" the requirements of s85 as it is for them to "misunderstand" so many other issues - dispensations for an easy example.

Shortly after becoming the chair of the PC I highlighted the inappropriate process which had previously existed for apologies for absence and the failure to properly hold and record a vote to accept / reject said apologies.

It was simply a case of previous chair(s), clerk(s) and Cllrs being ignorant of the proper procedure.
I asked that there be a simple record of those in attendance noted on the minutes.  That was the record of attendance.  Those that were not in attendance were noted as such.  Apologies are subjective and really, just a matter of courtesy - they have no effect upon whether a person is actually present or not.
If you're there, you're there.  If you're not, you're not.  Simple as that.

If after 6 months you haven't been there you are disqualified by dint of statute.  That's pretty simple too.

Attendance must be recorded on minutes - if there are 6 months worth of minutes that show non attendance then its game over.  Simple as that for a small - med, even a large PC.

A town, district or unitary authority may have the resources to integrate attendance records with individual Cllr profiles and encompass things like voting record but at the minnow level - just record attendance on the minutes and have a calendar to hand.
by (21.3k points)
Reading previous threads on this they talk of the clerk's only requirement is to issue the summons and not to act as a Councillors secretary and  maintain absence records . I am of the view that it is incumbent on us all to manage the whole PC process in the best way possible but issues like this make me wonder why I bother
Entirely agree it is councillors responsibility to ensure they don't fall foul of the six month rule but don't understand the suggestion that recording attendance by the Clerk is considered anything other than a normal part of the clerk's job. Surely it is necessary to ensure that attendance is noted as part of the minutes of the meeting?
It is important to remember the provision that if the absence and reason for it is accepted by the council (a positive process i.e. a minuted resolution to formally accept the absence and reasons for it) and the six month clock resets (s85(1)).
The legislation also provides for a councillor attending something other than a full council meeting to be taken as an attendance within the six month period.  So, if the councillor has been appointed to a committee and attends a committee meeting, that counts as an attendance for the purposes of s85.  Attendance as a member of the public at a committee meeting (e.g. having not been formally appointed to that committee) does not count.
If the issue is one of the clerk seeming to think they don't have to record Cllrs presence at meetings they are mistaken if their ToR JD is anything liken the NALC model which states:

1. To ensure that statutory and other provisions governing or affecting the running of the Council
are observed.  (my comment - it is a statutory requirement to record who is in attendance on the minutes)

4. To prepare, in consultation with appropriate members, agendas for meetings of the Council and Committees. To attend such meetings and prepare minutes for approval. (my comment - prepare the minutes which record the attendance)

Does it say the clerk has to prepare the minutes for approval in their JD?  If yes, they have to include Cllr attendance so what is the issue??
0 votes
You seem to fail to understand that you (as an individual councillor) cannot formally ask the clerk to do anything.  If the council wishes the clerk to set up this record then it should pass a resolution to that effect.

I also don't quite see why you need a separate record of attendance which should be perfectly clear from the minutes of each meeting.  I accept that is personal view which you are at liberty to disagree with.
by (10.1k points)
edited by
John 1706 I absolutely agree that the minutes contain the record of attendance but how would any third party  keep a record of the attendance of each Councillor  other than by transcribing that data to some sort of record to measure the time span  ?, If no separate check is kept any offending Councillor could simply carry on regardless as he/she is hardly going to say "oops I am now disqualified" and go quietly. If there is no independent check then nothing will happen
The logical conclusion to this argument, Marcus, is that if or when a councillor comes close to being absent for six months it could be argued that it is the clerk's responsibility to notify them that the six month period is nearly up.  As a councillor I recognise that it is my responsibility and mine alone to ensure I attend meetings as I was elected to do and not the responsibility of the clerk to remind me!
That leaves just one question. How would the clerk know that the 6 months were nearly up without extrapolating data from the minutes in a format she/he could understand.  I have decided to maintain a record myself.  But a good civil debate.  Thanks all
How would they know?  In a small community council (even a Town council) people should really just NOTICE if their colleague (whether (politically) friend or foe) have been AWOL for 1 or 2 meetings.  Are people so unaware of their surroundings as to not notice when someone is habitually absent?

We had one that was observably, repeatedly absent.  A quick check back through the minutes highlighted how long it had been - according to the official record - and then they were binned off under s85.

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