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RFO claims not mandatory for AGAR & Public Rights re annual accounts notices to be published

0 votes
Our RFO uploaded the one-page Public Rights notice for this year's inspection of annual accounts on the council website until two weeks after the date of announcement. Even then, it was not easy to find the notice as it did not appear on the home or front page but was hidden among council documents under the heading Finances. The RFO didn't put any AGAR/Public Rights notices on the parish noticeboards for 30 days after her announcement date, and then only pinned up the Public Rghts page because I wrote to ask where it was. I asked why it hadn't been properly published as per the statutory requirements, and the RFO stated that the notice need only appear on the council website, and that the display of this notice on the notice boards is good practice and not mandatory and so this doesn't affect the audit process. Is this true? Surely important financial notices should be published on notice boards first and the website second as they are intended to advertise the fact that interested parties have the right to inspect/copy and comment upon the past year's accounts. What about interested parties who might not own or use computers or have access to the internet? What about their rights? How can they be properly informed that they have a right to inspect last financial year's unaudited accounts unless the notice is properly and openly displayed in hard copy on all parish noticeboards?
by (500 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
Whilst it is not a requirement to publish the notices on noticeboards and that publishing on the website is legally acceptable, you are absolutely right and frankly your RFO is shocking.  I would suggest that you write to the External Auditor raising your concerns.  You need to do it within the time frame of the notice period so be quick.  Looking at what you have posted on this forum, there are serious concerns about the behaviour of your council, not just the Clerk / RFO but the whole council as they are ultimately responsible.
by (19.1k points)
0 votes

I have just done some further research on this and this is the guidance from our external auditor - I would suggest that this is universal.  It seems that your RFO is following the letter of the law but not best practice.

The statutory requirements for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • The smaller authority itself must inform the electorate of a single period of 30 working days during which public rights may be exercised, by publishing the relevant Notice and Sections 1 & 2 of the approved AGAR at least the day before the period for public rights commences. The date of the Notice must not be dated the same date as the first day of the 30 working days. The relevant Notice means the Notice of Public Rights & Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return for those subject to our review or Notice of Public Rights & Publication of Annual Governance & Accountability Return (Exempt Authority) for exempt authorities. For this purpose, publishing means inclusion on the website. Publication on a notice board is not mandated but is good practice;
  • The inspection period must include the first 10 working days of July, i.e. 1 to 14 July inclusive this year. In practice this means that public rights may be exercised:
  • at the earliest, between Thursday 3 June and Wednesday 14 July 2021; and
  • at the latest, between Thursday 1 July and Wednesday 11 August 2021.
by (19.1k points)
0 votes
You need to direct the clerk to post it on the noticeboard.  Pass a motion.  It may take a while but you will be OK next year.

Failing that, post it yourself on the noticeboard (externally one presumes).  Take it down once the time has expired.
by (1.5k points)
The RFO has not published the necessary sections 1 & 2 of the AGAR on either website or noticeboards at all, and neither was made available for inspection of annual accounts by two electors under Public Rights. Only Clerk/Chair/Vice Chair have keys for the parish noticeboards.
Sorry for the delay.  Yes, others will have the keys and use them to censor what is put there, hence the need to laminate it and post it on the board externally.

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