Supporting documentation for a Parish Council meeting

0 votes
The supporting documents for Parish Council meetings are often not provided to Councillors with enough time to go through them in advance of the meeting.  I am at a disadvantage in the discussions if these documents are very detailed and I cannot vote to accept them at the meeting if I have not read them.   Are there any written guidelines to which I can refer to encourage better practice as I cannot find anything in the usual Parish Council reference guides.
asked by (120 points)

2 Answers

0 votes

The legal requirement is for the business of the meeting to be served on the councillors with 3 clear days and in practice this should refer to the agenda and supporting documents.  However, legally,  it is only the agenda that is covered by this legislation.  The law in question is the Local Government Act 1972, Section 12, Section 10 2(b) which states 

Three clear days at least before a meeting of a parish council

(b)a summons to attend the meeting, specifying the business proposed to be transacted at the meeting and signed by the proper officer of the council, shall be left at or sent by post to the usual place of residence of every member of the council.

That said, it is good practice to include all the supporting documents at the same time.  However, it may be the case that the Clerk is waiting for a response or information to be sent to them before they can forward it to the councillors so there is always the need for some flexibility.  The same can be said for month end accounts which cannot physically be created any earlier and therefore may have to be distributed closer to the meeting than the summons....

Councillors have the right to request that the supporting documents are presented in a timely manner unless there is a genuine reason that the Clerk is unable to do so.  

answered by (5.8k points)
Thank you for clarifying.  I only recently found out that the requirement related only to the agenda.    It would make sense to get the information that is available with the agenda, with the remainder to follow.  However, it all comes together, sometimes the day before the meeting or the morning of the meeting.  This has again happened this week.  I had hoped there would be a rule which said we should get everything at the same time as I have brought this up at meetings with no success.
It sounds like your Clerk needs speaking to.  As a Clerk myself, there is no excuse for shoddy administration and as much paperwork as possible should be sent out to councillors at the same time as the agenda.
Our Clerk does need to be taken to task on this and a number of other issues but there is no point discussing it with our current Chair as they will always support the Clerk.  I have been told that the Chair and Clerk meet outside of Parish Council meetings so I don't think the same rules apply to all Councillors.
0 votes

I think the key to the correct anwer already given is specifying the business proposed to be transacted at the meeting, without the detail I personally don't think that an informed decision can be made and in addition the document (link below) states
The agenda must be published with any background papers. No item can be considered if the item is not available for inspection by the public with 5 clear days’ notice and goes on ...........As a councillor, you can inspect any document that contains material to be discussed at least 5 days before a public meeting is held.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-and-accountable-local-government-plain-english-guide

answered by (660 points)
Thank you for your comments.  When I first became a Councillor the basic agenda would be published and this would be followed by 'notes' for Councillors, which was a further slightly more detailed agenda.  Our Clerk no longer provides the notes.  The supporting documents are not published for the public to review unless it is something like the Standing Orders and this only when ratified at a Council meeting.  Councillors are supposed to get copies of correspondence received by the Clerk and to be discussed at the meeting but the Clerk often only lets us know at the meeting.  It makes the meeting very frustrating sometimes because I cannot prepare in advance and often decisions have to be made at the time.

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