I have just stood again to be a councillor on a parish council, previously I was the chair, one of thirteen council members. I had a separate councillor to chair the finance committee, to make sure there was full scrutiny and transparency and full public participation since public bodies have to be open to scrutiny.
Since I have left the whole council has degraded to the point the current chair (there are only six councillors including myself, I have just rejoined to try and sort out what has gone on) The council 18 months ago changed the naming of the sub-committee meetings to advisory. I checked with the clerk who didn't want to answer but told me it was agreed, the minutes he stated are the only ones not shown on the parish website but the agenda is, there is nothing as regards changing the subcommittees, therefore there should have been no debate on the matter. I have now pointed this out to the new council. to find the new chair who has only just joined the council thinks it is a prudent thing to convert all the subcommittees; allotments, Financial committee etc to advisory groups.
To my understanding Advisory groups don't have minutes, proper agendas and can meet anywhere without informing the public, those involved in the advisory groups only have to give a verbal response to the full council. This raises major concerns since a process has taken place which is not within the public domain, without minutes there is nothing to show even in a court of law, where minutes can be used to show what happened during the meeting or whoever was there or where the meeting took place. The chair stated they didn't what minutes since they were volunteers and it was too much work, even this felt like predetermination since the other four said the same. I have currently got them to table this at the next meeting, your advice would be greatly appreciated.