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Apologies and 6 months rule

0 votes
The 6 months rule was just about to click in for two councillors, the last meeting attended by them was 16th January'20  Did not send any apologies for a meeting held on the 16th March  and our last meeting held on 6th July to keep them onboard the apologies arrived after everyone had left to attend the meeting (a copy was sent by email to each councillor but not one received it beforr they left) as it was held face to face and 2m apart.  Nothing in our Standing orders to cover this.

The apologies was is not recorded in the minutes as they were not received in time -- picked up the following day sent 23 minutes before meeting started.

Where do we stand
asked by (120 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
The apologies were not received on time for them to be formally accepted at the meeting (receipt of an apology is not acceptance of the apology by the council).

There is no legal alternative, to allow them to continue places the council in the wrong.

They are not councillors anymore and you need to inform your district council to notify for election (or appointment by district if you are no longer quorate, during lockdown).
answered by (6.6k points)
0 votes
Firstly you shouldn’t have met face to face regardless of if you were 10m apart. NALC has clearly stated that meetings should be held remotely, therefore the council has not followed appropriate advice.

Had the council have met remotely then it is likely you would have received the apology. You also received it prior to the meeting technically starting so your local association will deem whether that can justify as being in time or not.

Is this Cllr(s) ones you ideally want to lose? If so this is not the way to go about it.

I would be legally challenging this decision if I were in their shoes as the meeting should not have been in person.
answered by (3.7k points)
Your comments shouldn't have met face to face.
This is not law, and up to the PC to decide if it the correct way forward for them.
I think you’ll find you met when the government guidelines and NALC said not to. Don’t ask the question if you don’t like the reply!
The meeting took place on the 6th July
The statement from the government  stated the changes to take place from the 4th.July
 The meeting was in line with the changes.
I was under the impression that the legislation allows virtual meetings, but doesn't compel us to meet virtually.  I'm aware of several parish councils that have reverted to face-to-face meetings, where their village halls have re-opened, as they lost all public participation by going virtual.
The guidance very clearly states we should not be meeting face-to-face. One would assume the guidance is in line with government thinking. I myself would prefer to meet face to face but the time is not now and the guidance is still IF you can work at home do so!!
Also bearing in mind the age profile of a lot of PC’s a large number of Councillors wouldn’t be able to attend
I’ve not heard of Borough Councils even considering face to face meetings yet
It’s tedious on line but it doesn’t prevent business being transacted
I've been utterly appalled by the conduct of members of my District and County Councils during Zoom meetings.  We've seen them smoking, drinking, swearing, chatting to other members of their household, dressing inappropriately etc. They seem to have forgotten that they are still in a public meeting.
+2 votes
The timing of the apology may be of no consequence.  Section 85 states:

"85 Vacation of office by failure to attend meetings.
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority."

What matters here is why the members were absent and whether the remaining members considered that to be an acceptable reason. All apologies must be accompanied by an explanation and that explanation must be debated by the council and either accepted or rejected.  Crucially, as far as Section 85 is concerned, the debate must take place before the six months is up.  So if your members didn't provide a valid reason for non-attendance, they're out anyway, reagrdless of any question about the timing of the apology or the status of the meeting.
answered by (17.4k points)
Interesting clarification Dave. Just for clarity, one should also ask if either of these two councillors have done work on parish business in the meantime, which would reset to 6 month rule (as provided for in subsections 2 & 3).
We have a councillor who rarely attends meetings, but will regularly help with checking the accounts with another councillor during daytime hours. So of course they are covered in this respect. Just thought it was worth mentioning to expand the answer a bit.
I don't think that's correct.  Section 85 refers specifically to meetings of the council, its committees or sub-committees. The section on executive arrangements doesn't apply to parish councils. A get-together with the RFO or another member to check the accounts isn't an official meeting of the council. Otherwise, where do you draw the line? Every member could ignore the meetings and just claim to be dealing with parish business from home.
In my experience Parish Councils have tended to become very lax in this respect with just apology received from cllr Smith recorded.As Councillors are summoned to council meetings and must give a valid reason for not attending. This should be entered into the minutes along with whether the council accepts the reason given for non attendance. Elected councillors are duty bound to attend and not have the attitude of "it doesn't matter".
I should perhaps have added that he and another councillor had been authorised by the Finance committee to carry out regular checks on the accounts together. So I think he is covered from that point of view. But you make a good point. Thanks.

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