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In a recent thread it was suggested that “good practice” for Parish Council agendas would be to follow the example set by District Councils of including any reports as PDFs etc . The theory was that members of the public should have access to the same information being considered as do Councillors. This would inter alia reduce the incidence of oral reports and last-minute surprises. This seems to be eminently desirable and sensible, but I wonder how achievable it will be.  Is there any specific advice on Agenda construction or is it inevitably down to what the Councillors decide is right for them.

asked by (1.2k points)

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The openness and Transparency in Public Bodies 2014 gives people the right to access all supporting papers that are made available at public meetings. I don't understand what difficulties you think would arise in achieving it.  If you have  legitimate copy of MS Word, you should be able to combine electronic documents and export the combined amalgamated docs as a pdf..  What irks me is Clerks who are given electronic copies of docs and then print paper copies from them, and publish. scanned copies of paper print outs.  Totally wasteful of time effort and resources fpor all.
answered by (14.7k points)
Thanks Graeme. I have found an Openness in Local Government Bodies Regulations  which talks of
Decisions and background papers to be made available to the public
8. The written record, together with any background papers, must as soon as reasonably practicable after the record is made, be made available for inspection by members of the public
Now I am not a legal expert but this seems to be talking about minutes or have I got it wrong..does it also apply to Agendas?
Incidentally the difficulty I thought of was the need to provide hard copies of the Agenda say at the local library as opposed to a web site copy which would be straightforward
Graeme, I am clearly a dinosaur here but how do you combine multiple word documents into one pdf in the manner to which you suggest?  I would find that genuinely useful to know....
Mrs A its a long tie since I have done this but tried it today and it works. Write your agenda in Word. Then on each Agenda item where you want to display/insert  report go Insert Object (I put it on ribbon bar) then go create from file and display as icon and then select the relevant file and an icon appears which you can click on to open the relevant file
thank you Graeme
Its John actually
My bad, apologies
Openspaces method might cause a few problems.  I would suggest the following.  Create the agenda in word.  Scroll down to the bottom of  the agenda and press return until you are on a new page.  Add a title Appendix one: followed by the name of the relevant agenda paper.  Open the electronic copy of the agenda item and hit Crtl +a to copy all of it. Switch back to your agenda on the newly added appendix one page and below the title press crtl and v.  Then repeat the process for all other agenda papers by creating appendix two and appendix 3 etc.  Once everything is in there go to FIle then click save as pdf.
Thanks Graeme (learnt something). The truth is that either method can work and I suppose much depends on how the receiving Cllr wants to view the Agenda. Either way I guess a percentage of Cllrs could initially view and then at the meeting revisit the agenda via a lap top. But as has been said previously it should reduce the need for hard copies
Graeme has touched on a good point. In the past our clerk has printed such reports, whereupon the printer created a PDF from the scanned material. This is really poor practise, as any such PDF document are not searchable.
Indeed, there are new accessibility rules requiring councils to produce such electronically readable documents so that they can be read aloud by appropriate software. It makes them searchable too.
I suspect our last clerk had no idea how to search for key phrases in a large list of documents and therefore didn't really understand the need for such searchable docs.

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