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Can the discussions of a Council meeting be made public when no member of the Public attends?

0 votes
asked by (1.9k points)

5 Answers

+1 vote
As all council meetings must be minuted then what occurs and decisions made should be recorded regardless of whether the public is present. Now to what level of the " discussion" regarding decisions is minuted depends on your viewpoint. Local NALC groups will advise that only the decisions made or resolutions passed to be recorded in the minutes for brevity (and less work for the clerk presumably).Unfortunately most people who have an interest in PC business would prefer to be able to follow the logic and progress of a discussion or debate preceding a decision. Surely this should be accommodated by the requirement of transparency required of councils?

A precis of discussion showing which councillors made which points regarding the topic should be recorded if only to allow assessment of councillors involvement and attitudes. The recording of which councillors voted for, against and abstained on a motion which is at the moment frowned upon by local NALC offices would allow for assessment of councillors views and performance Such good practice would historically allow for anyone to follow the topic from meeting to meeting and assure the community it serves that the council has thoroughly considered anything they make decisions on.

Unfortunately removal of detail leads to built in deniability. "if you don't record it then you can deny it".Perhaps this is why so many councils 'refrain' from recording (sound or video) meetings?
answered by (11.2k points)
Thank you for your reply - very useful.
Can councillors talk. discuss with the public and reveal  how councillors voted after a zoom meeting again even when no member of the public is present? [virtually]
0 votes
If you follow best practice you do not record discussion beyond anything simplistic that is needed to support the decision.
You only record the number of votes if a councillor requests that fors, againsts and abstentions are noted which can show if a vote was close. But even with a recorded vote it is only the number of votes for each category that are noted. The voting categories are not attributed to specific councillors.
answered by (310 points)
Standing order 3(s)
At the request of a councillor, the voting on any question shall be recorded so as to show whether each councillor present and voting gave his vote for or against that question.
I don't think the point on recording votes is quite correct. A councillor can ask for the votes to be recorded, in which case the minutes must include which councillors voted in which way. The right to ask for votes to be recorded is also always assumed to give a councillor the right to ask only for their own vote to be recorded in the minutes.
+1 vote
Absolutely unless the discussion was about a confidential item.  There should be nothing going on at a Council meeting that is not fit for public consumption.

However, there is no substitute for the public making the effort to attend the meeting, and witnessing first hand the discussion that took place before a decision was made, if a particular matter is of importance to them.
answered by (2k points)
+1 vote

I actually can't believe this question even needs to be asked (Don't mean offence to you Pheonix). This is a clear example of how unprofessional the Parish/Town Council system is by large. Parish and Town Councils need to have some up to date and modern governance that clearly dictates the levels of standards councils must operate. Imagine Borough/District/County Council's running the way some Parish and Town Council's do - mayhem!!

Anyway, slight sidetrack.

Any discussion that is held during session IS public information regardless of whether a member of the public attends in person or virtually. The only time this may change is if part of the session is behind closed doors and therefore can not be reported on such to sensitive information. This should be rare though.

ANY council regardless of level should be doing everything possible to ensure that their discussions and actions are as transparent as possible. This isn't just because it's the right thing to do but a great way to engage with the very people you serve to represent.

answered by (5.4k points)
I wouldn't assume that principal authorities are better than parish councils, just different. They are less likely to overtly break the rules, if only because they normally have a qualified senior legal officer. But sadly it isn't uncommon for officers to attempt to evade scrutiny by elected councillors, or for political groups to manipulate decisions. All local government could operate to higher democratic standards, and should be encouraged to do so, and to involve citizens far more.
0 votes
The answers given reflect the chaotic way some Parish Councils operate and the thought of more powers being devolved to them is horrifying
As has been correctly said all the minutes legally need to record are the decisions and even then a lot of Parishes make vague decisions rather than clear cut unambiguous motions with time limits and review dates

As it stands a Parish Council can make a decision to spend a large amount of money based entirely on incorrect verbal “ evidence “ which isn’t recorded in the minutes

All Parish’s over a certain size should be forced to record meetings as it’s so easy in this day and age
answered by (4.9k points)

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