Main committee meeting not quorate but went a head and then signed off later

0 votes
There are two parts here, we had a main council parish meeting in July for us to be quorate there needs to be 5 since there are 13 seats on the main Parish Council but currently only 6 seats are taken. I questioned the Vice Chair (actiong as Chair for the meeting) about this he insisted that we only needed three the clerk said the same. To add to this the current chair checked and had to cancel the August meeting when it was stated we needed 5 to be quorate again two missed the meeting.

The other concern is that the Chair has refused to state which councillors could not make the August meeting and also signed off the July meeting as being correct at the Septmber meeting even though I pointed out that it was non-quorate and was  ultra vires, the chair ignorded my concerns. what are the ramifications especially if contested? I am totally shocked that some councillor just think they can change the law? should the monitoring officer be infromedof this?

Has the chair also acted against the code of conduct not nameing the councillors who could not make the August meeting?

thanks in advance
asked by (190 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
If you're using the model standing orders, the quorum for a full Council meeting is one third of members, but not less than three, so based on the information you've provided, July was fine and August could have gone ahead too.
answered by (5.6k points)
Thanks Davetheclerk
I have just checked the standing orders:

No  business  may  be  transacted  at  a  meeting  unless  at  least  one-third  of  the  wholenumber of members of the council are present and in no case shall  the quorum of ameeting be less than three.

That means the Chair cancelled a meeting that could have been convened and had given wrong advice to the other councillors. shows that accuracy is needed at all times.
The Clerk should always bring a copy of the standing orders and financial regulations to every meeting to enable queries such as this to be resolved on the spot. The easiest way to do this these days is to have a digital copy available on a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone, as that enables you to search for a word, rather than flicking through dozens of pages of small print. There is no shame in announcing to the meeting that I don't know the answer, so I'm going to take a couple of minutes to look it up.
It's odd that I have now had it confirmed by CALC:
I have confirmed with NALC that it is the case that the quorum of the Council should be the whole number of seats divided by 3. Therefore rounding up at Hartlebury would provide a quorum required of 5.

I don't know if you have anything to add to this?
That's an interesting viewpoint, but one I believe may not be correct. This issue here is the use of the word "whole" in the standing order. If this is taken to mean the full contingent of members, then the NALC opinion would be correct. However, the Oxford dictionary includes numerous definitions of the word "member" none of which can, in any sense, be applied to a vacant seat. A member of a council is a human being who has signed an acceptance of office declaration.

Whilst not directly relevant to this discussion, it is interesting to note that Paragraph 45 in Part VI of the Local Government Act 1972, which addresses the issue of multiple disqualifications, states that disqualified members should be disregarded in the determination of the number of members required to form a quorum.

As interest in local councils wanes and membership drops, applying the NALC viewpoint on this matter will result in an increasing number of counicls being unable to perform their statutory functions.

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