Can I require monthly meeting agenda documents be supplied to me at a parish council meeting or shortly after.

0 votes
I believe my democratic rights were ignored during a English parish council meeting, am I correct in this believe.

The following information applies:

I requested a copy of an agenda item document be supplied to me during the public part of a normal monthly parish council meeting in February 2018.

The council has a precept of £82k, the council also has a web site. The meeting agenda and accompanying documents were not on their or any other website.

I politely made the point in the open meeting that I believed the document to be in the public domain following its supply to my elected councillor representative and I had a democratic right to it either at the time of my request or the following day subject to the clerk being available when I would attend the council office; I further stated I expected to pay for the photocopying of the document.

I was refused a copy of the agenda item document and initially told "we will not supply it to you, you will be able to get it from the LPA planning officer when we forward it to him". Following a discussion between councillors I was further told "we will send you a copy after we send it to the LPA" No date or time was given as to when the document would be sent to the LPA but it needed to be within a short number of weeks.

The document related to my planning application which was being discussed by the parish council in preparation for them to submit their recommendation to refuse or accept the application to the local planning authority.

The agenda item document was in draft form which had been supplied by post to the councillors 3 days prior to the meeting in mid February 2018.

The document was openly discussed while members of the public including myself were in attendance and agreement was reached with the inclusion of a minor addition to recommend refusal to the LPA.

I have via email subsequently requested the parish council to rethink their decision and offer me an apology, they have refused to do so.

I repeat that I believe my democratic rights were ignored during the meeting, am I correct in this believe.

I welcome any advice you may be able and willing to offer.
asked by (230 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Have you asked? Certainly locally here Documents are provided, on request, to those members of the public who attend the meetings.
Note: Requesting them is a way of ensuring enough copies are available.
answered by (2.5k points)
0 votes

I continue to be amazed at how many local councils fail to meet their statutory obligations, and completely ignore requirements (and good sense) in terms of open government and accountability.

Parish Councils are required to publish the agenda of forthcoming meetings 3 clear days in advance of the meeting. The Transparency Code confirms that as well as the agenda, associated meeting papers should also be published, and that this should be via the council’s website.

The Freedom of information Act gives the public a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities (which includes Parish Councils), subject to certain stated exceptions. I suggest that you submit a Freedom of Information request to your parish council for the document you want to see.

A speedier route might be to ask the Local Planning Authority involved. They may be more on the ball in terms of openness etc. Certainly my local planning authority publishes on its website. submissions and comments received in respect of planning applications (and similarly a freedom of information request to them should elicit the document you want to see).

answered by (1.6k points)

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