Guidance Notes

Notes and references for  Councillors and people thinking of becoming Councillors.

Guidance for Committee Convenors

(first drafted by A Walmsley June 1995, updated by N Campbell-White May 2000, and in June 2004 to include recommendations from the clerk)
In 2012, all Parish Councils were required, by the Localism Act 2011, to adopt a new Code of Conduct based on the seven Nolan principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

The Parish Council has its own Standing Orders, originally based on the sample Standing Orders from NALC, the National Association of Local Councils.


Guidance for Councillors and Convenors
Frequency and location to be agreed by convenors and members
Authority of committees In general, committees have power to act within their sphere of responsibility.
Committees should make recommendations to the full council on policy decisions and any other actions which would permanently affect the fabric of the village.
In cases where policy-type decisions are needed before the next full Council meeting, the convenor should attempt to contact a majority of councillors, one of whom should be the Chairman or Vice-Chairman, to agree a course of action.
Reports to full council Submitted to the Clerk in writing 7 days before Parish Council meeting. Reports should be concise and should cover what had been done, matters in hand and progress to date and future work and problem areas. The report should highlight issues that the full council should vote on. A NIL report is not usually adequate.
Agenda Agenda items to the Clerk in writing 7 days before the Parish Council meeting. The agenda is finalised and set by the Chairman and the Clerk
Quorum At least one third of the committee
PC Chairman’s attendance The Chairman is an ex-officio member of every committee and will attend meetings of the Finance committee and other committees when invited.
Spending All invoices before being paid should be seen and signed by the appropriate convenor as being correct for payment.
Need for quotations The Current financial standing orders say that, within a committee’s budget, for items under £750 no competitive tendering is required but a written quotation must be obtained. Up to £1500 a minimum of two quotes must be obtained in writing. Above £1501 a minimum of three quotations must be obtained in writing and expenditure, even if previously budgeted must be approved by the full Council.
Correspondence Only the Clerk, from his address, should issue correspondence concerning anything to do with the Council.
Co-option Convenors may invite non-members (including non-Councillors) to committee meetings. They may co-opt people onto the committee subject to confirmation by the full council.
Voting Generally, committees have been able to agree on a course of action without a formal vote. If a vote is requested by any member, it shall be taken and the committee report shall record the number of votes for and against.
committee structure The committee may make recommendations to the full council about its own structure, responsibilities, membership
Public statements Only the chairman or clerk may make public statements to the press without reference to the full council

Committee meetings

Committee meetings must be held in “a public place” and advertised three clear days in advance (in this case three clear days can include weekends and public holidays as a Parish Council does not close down at such times)

Legally, notice of Committee meetings has to be “displayed in some conspicuous place within the Parish/Community”. We choose to use noticeboards and as such it is preferable to place notices on all of them.

Committee meetings must be held in a “Public Place” excluding “Licensed Premises”.
For us, ” public places” includes the Village Hall, the Scout Hall, or (rarely) All Saints School.
Convenors should note that in recognition of the Parish Council’s input to the Pavilion, we are allowed to use it for meetings without payment, by arrangement with the Sports Club and as long as the room is not needed for sports club purposes. In practice this means that daytime meetings are relatively easy to arrange, but it is harder to find it free for an evening meeting. Note that meetings in the Sports Pavilion cannot be held when the bar is open (Standing Order 1a).

Room rental costs are debited against General Administration budgets