Sunday, 21 May 2017

Parish Council - notes of meeting

Transparency Code

I refer to my blog dated 13th May regarding the demise of the Parish Council Report.

Following the notification that the Parish Council would no longer provide an informal report of business, I decided to do some research about best practice guidance for local Councils and discovered the following extracts:

Good practice

"It is good practice for the clerk to make the minutes available for public inspection as soon as possible after the meeting. Prior to signing they can be labelled ‘draft minutes’. The availability of the minutes should be explained in the council’s publication scheme according to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This Act ensures that documentation for which the council is responsible is accessible."

Source: The Essential Clerk - An Introduction to the Role of Local Councils
[Society of Local Council Clerks]

"It is good practice for public authorities to have a process that ensures minutes related to regular meetings are published reasonably soon after the meeting has been held."

Source: Information Commissioner's Office - 'What should be published? Minutes and agendas'

"Meeting minutes and papers must be published in draft (if not yet approved) a maximum of one month after the meeting to which they relate."

Source: Local Government Transparency Code - 'Transparency Code for smaller authorities'
December 2014 [Supplemented by Briefing Paper No: 06046, 18 May 2016]

As we can see there is a maximum time limit for publication, but no guidance on the phrase 'as soon as possible'.

When I used to deliver courses on effective meetings management, we used to recommend for reasons of accuracy, that draft Minutes be written up straight away wherever possible. Failing that, they should be drafted no later than 24 hours after the meeting.

That said, I am pleased to report the 'Notes of the Meeting' for Tuesday 9th May have now surfaced. Published on the Parish Council website Friday 19th May, within 8 working days of the meeting being held, this is deemed reasonable in the circumstances.

After all, it is important for the community to be able to have access to as much information as possible on the matter of business in the Parish, more so if one is unable to attend the meetings.

The 'Draft Minutes' / 'Notes of the Meeting' only exist until the next meeting of the Parish Council, before which they will be presented for any amendments and final agreement. The agreed Minutes will then replace the draft / notes version.

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