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Within our Council, the Policy and Finance committee meet to 'thrash out' a budget. This meeting is not advertised, is not open to the public, does not have an agenda and is not minuted. Is this an unlawful meeting? I feel that this should be open to the public and to other Councillors who are not a Chair of Committees.  Only chairs of committees fill the place on the Policy and Finance Committee and other Councillors can only question and discuss the budget during a later Council meeting.
by (2.3k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
If it's not advertised it's not an official Council meeting and cannot make any decisions.  However it's not unlawful to Councillors to meet privately - just not in spirit of open government. It's not how I would like the budget to be derived but I guess the argument you'll get back is that you can ask about the process in the full Council meeting - and propose a motion to reject the whole budget.  I would suggest that you should have two additional members on the Policy and Finance Committee who are not Chairs of Committees to avoid over-concentration of power with a limited number of councillors - this will require a change to Standing Orders (which should be reviewed every 12 months).  You could also propose a motion stating that any future meetings about changes to the budget discussed (and possibly agreed) by Council should be announced and open to all Councillors and members of the public.  You could also demand that in future budget discussions are held in a more transparent way.
by (1.5k points)
0 votes
Any group of people can meet to discuss a budget or anything else in the universe without agendas or minutes.   But, for it to become an  "official"  meeting of a committee it would have to be advertised , and have an agenda , and would by law be open to the public (public bodies admission to meetings act 1960).   Committees usually make recommendations to full Councils.
Also, There is Section 25(2) of the Localism Act 2011 which provides that a decision maker is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind when making a decision just because – (a) the decision maker had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view the decision maker took, or would or might take in relation to a matter, and (b) the matter was relevant to the decision.

In plain language,  they can get away with it unless enough people disagree.
by (300 points)

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