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POLICIES AND FINANCE

Southam Town Council Aims

  1. To improve the service it provides whilst ensuring best value.
  2. To work with others to improve safety, the environment and quality of life in the town, paying particular attention to the needs of vulnerable members of our community.
  3. To regularly and effectively consult the community.
  4. To promote the local economy.

Standing Orders

1. MEETINGS OF THE COUNCIL

1.1 Subject to paragraph (4), all meetings of the Council shall be held at the Grange Hall, Coventry Road, Southam, CV47 IQA at 7.30 pm unless the Council otherwise decide at a previous meeting: that part normally open to the public to cease at 10.15 pm. Meetings shall not take place in premises, which at the time of the meeting, are used for the supply of alcohol unless no other premises are available free of charge or at a reasonable cost

1.2 The annual meeting of the Council shall be held:

  1. In an election year, the annual meeting of the Council shall be held on or within 14 days following the day on which the new councillors elected take office.
  2. In a year of ordinary elections of councillors to the Council, on the second Thursday following the date of those ordinary elections.
  3. In a year other than a year of such ordinary elections, on the second Thursday in the month of May that year.
  4. The annual meeting of the council shall take place at 7.30pm.

1.3 Ordinary meetings of the Council shall be held on the 4th Thursday of each calendar month with the exception of the months of August and December during which no ordinary meetings of the Council shall be held.

1.4 The date of the Budget and Precept meeting shall be held on the second Thursday in January. The date may, in exceptional circumstances, be varied by a resolution of Council at the November Council meeting.

1.5 The Town Mayor may, on giving not less than seven days notice (except in emergency) alter the date, time or place of any meeting of the Council if it appears to him/her that the date, time or place appointed is unlawful, impossible or generally inconvenient.

1.6 The agenda for the Town Council meeting shall be published at least 3 clear working days by the Town Clerk (Proper Officer) (when calculating the 3 clear days for notice of a meeting to councillors and the public, the day on which notice was issued, the day of the meeting, a Sunday, a day of the Christmas break, a day of the Easter break or of a bank holiday or a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning shall not count). The agenda shall give notice of all items of business to be transacted.

1.7 Subject to standing orders which indicate otherwise, anything authorised or required to be done by, to or before the Chairman may in his absence be done by, to or before the Vice-Chairman (if any).

1.8 The Chairman, if present, shall preside at a meeting. If the Chairman is absent from a meeting, the Vice-Chairman, if present, shall preside. If both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are absent from a meeting, a Councillor as chosen by the Councillors present at the meeting shall preside at the meeting.

1.9 The code of conduct adopted by the Council shall apply to councillors in respect of the entire meeting.

1.10 An interest arising from the code of conduct adopted by the council, the existence and nature of which is required to be disclosed by a Councillor at a meeting shall be recorded in the minutes.

1.11 The Chairman of the Council, unless he has resigned or becomes disqualified, shall continue in office and preside at the annual meeting until his successor is elected at the next annual meeting.

1.12 In an election year, if the current Chairman of the Council has not been re-elected as a member of the Council, he shall preside at the meeting until a successor Chairman of the Council has been elected. The current Chairman of the Council shall not have an original vote in respect of the election of the new Chairman of the Council but must give a casting vote in the case of an equality of votes.

In an election year, if the current Chairman of the Council has been re-elected as a member of the Council, he shall preside at the meeting until a new Chairman of the Council has been elected. He may exercise an original vote in respect of the election of the new Chairman of the Council and must give a casting vote in the case of an equality of votes.

1.13 Extraordinary Meetings

  1. The Chairman of the Council may convene an extraordinary meeting of the council at any time.
  2. If the Chairman of the Council does not or refuses to call an extraordinary meeting of the council within 7 days of having been requested to do so by two councillors, any two councillors may convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council. The statutory public notice giving the time, venue and agenda for such a meeting must be signed by the two councillors.

2. ATTENDANCE BOOK

2.1 A book shall be provided at every meeting of the Council and any meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee in which each member of the Council present shall enter his or her name.

3. QUORUM

3.1 Four members shall constitute a quorum.

3.2 If a quorum is not present when the Council meets or if during a meeting the number of councillors present falls below the quorum the meeting shall stand adjourned.

3.3 The consideration of any business not transacted shall be adjourned to a time fixed by the person presiding at the meeting, or if he/she does not fix a time to the next ordinary meeting of the Council.

4. ORDER OF BUSINESS

4.1 At the Annual Council Meeting the first business shall be

  1. To elect a Town Mayor.
  2. To receive the Town Mayor's declaration of acceptance of office.
  3. To elect a Deputy Town Mayor.
  4. Apologies for absence.
  5. Minutes of the previous meeting.
  6. Planning Applications.

4.2 In an election year, to make arrangements with a view to the council becoming eligible to exercise the general power of competence in the future.

4.3 At every meeting other than the Annual Council Meeting the first business shall be the appointment of a presiding Chairman if the Town Mayor and Deputy Town Mayor be absent.

4.4 After the first business has been completed the Council shall receive such declarations of acceptance of office (if any) as are required by law to be made, and thereafter the order of business, unless the Council otherwise decides on the ground of urgency, shall be as follows:

  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Declarations of Interest (In accordance with current legislation)
  3. Representations from the Public
  4. Minutes of the previous meeting
  5. Accounts for Payment
  6. Planning
  7. Town Clerk's Report
  8. Correspondence
  9. Reports from Working Parties (if any)
  10. Members items (if any)*
  11. Information from County and District Councillors
  12. l) That the Town Clerk be authorised in consultation with the Town Mayor, Deputy Town Mayor and immediate past Mayor or as a minimum, any two of these Councillors to deal with any business arising which is deemed to be urgent during the period of the Summer and Christmas recesses, including authorisation of payments.
  13. Exclusion of the Public from the meeting
    Notice of Motion (if any) may be introduced between Items (k) and (l)

* Explanatory Note: Any member wishing to raise an agenda item under 'j' must give 10 clear days notice and provide to the Clerk either a brief synopsis or supporting documentation to allow other Councillors time to consider the matter prior to the meeting

4.5 A motion to vary the order of business on the ground of urgency

  1. may be proposed by any member;
  2. if proposed by the presiding Chairman may be voted upon without being seconded: and
  3. shall be voted upon without discussion.

4.6 No speech by a member of the public, under 4.4(c) shall exceed 3 minutes except by consent of the presiding Chairman.

5. MINUTES

The minutes of a meeting shall include an accurate record of the following:

  1. the time and place of the meeting;
  2. the names of councillors present and absent;
  3. interests that have been declared by councillors;
  4. whether a councillor left the meeting when matters that they held interests in were being considered;
  5. if there was a public participation session; and
  6. the resolutions made.

5.1 If the draft minutes of a preceding meeting have been served on councillors with the agenda to attend the meeting at which they are due to be approved for accuracy, they shall be taken as read.

5.2 There shall be no discussion about the draft minutes of a preceding meeting except in relation to their accuracy. A motion to correct an inaccuracy in the draft minutes shall be moved in accordance with standing order 8.

5.3 The accuracy of draft minutes, including any amendment(s) made to them, shall be confirmed by resolution and shall be signed by the chairman of the meeting and stand as an accurate record of the meeting to which the minutes relate.

5.4 If the chairman of the meeting does not consider the minutes to be an accurate record of the meeting to which they relate, he shall sign the minutes and include a paragraph in the following terms or to the same effect: "The chairman of this meeting does not believe that the minutes of the meeting of the ( ) held on [date] in respect of ( ) were a correct record but his view was not upheld by the meeting and the minutes are confirmed as an accurate record of the proceedings."

5.5 Upon a resolution which confirms the accuracy of the minutes of a meeting, the draft minutes or recordings of the meeting for which approved minutes exist shall be destroyed.

5.6 Guidelines should motions be put and lost will only be recorded in the Minutes when

  1. A vote is requested
  2. Where a motion comes within the scope of a notice of motion.

5.7 Minutes will contain a record of the items of business under discussion followed by a brief resume stating the decisions and resolutions.

5.8 Councillors shall be named in the Minutes only on the following occasions:

  1. Where there is a notice of motion.
  2. Under Members' items
  3. Appointment of members to working parties and other bodies.

6. ELECTION OF TOWN MAYOR AND DEPUTY TOWN MAYOR

6.1 No member of the Council shall be considered for election to the office of Town Mayor until that person has completed four consecutive years' service ending on the date of the election of Town Mayor as a member of the Council.

6.2 No member of the Council shall be considered for appointment to the office of Deputy Town Mayor until that person has completed three consecutive years' service ending on the date of appointment of Deputy Town Mayor as a member of the Council.

6.3 The person elected as Town Mayor shall be the person who was appointed Deputy Town Mayor at the immediately preceding Annual Meeting of the Council, provided that this person has not ceased to be a member of the Council.

6.4 If the application of paragraphs (1) and (2) results in no member qualifying for election then the member elected as Town Mayor or appointed as Deputy Town Mayor as the case may be shall be on the basis of seniority of continuous service (ending on the date of election of Town Mayor or appointment of Deputy Town Mayor) as a member of the Council.

6.5 If the application of paragraphs (1), (2) and (4) results in more than one member of the Council qualifying for election then the eldest by age shall be elected as Town Mayor or appointed Deputy Town Mayor as the case may be.

6.6 No person shall be eligible for election to the office of Town Mayor, if

  1. he/she shall have been so appointed to that office at the immediately preceding Annual meeting of the Council; or
  2. previously he/she shall have held that office and there be members of the Council eligible for election under paragraph (1) above.
  3. previously he/she shall have held that office for more than one term and there be members of the Council eligible who have held that office for a lesser number of terms.

7. NOTICES OF MOTION

7.1 Except as provided by these standing orders, no motion may be moved unless the mover has given notice in writing of its terms and has delivered the notice to the Town Clerk at least ten clear days before the meeting of the Council at which the motion is considered.

7.2 The Town Clerk shall date every notice of motion when received by him/her, shall number each notice in the order in which it was received, and shall enter it in a book which shall be open to the inspection of every member of the Council.

7.3 The Town Clerk shall insert in the summons for every meeting all notices of motion properly given in the order in which they have been received unless the member giving such a notice has stated in writing that he/she intends to move his/her motion at some later meeting or that he/she withdraws it.

7.4 If a motion specified in the summons be not moved, it shall, unless postponed by the Council, be treated as withdrawn and shall not be moved without fresh notice.

7.5 If the subject matter of a motion comes within the province of a committee of the Council, it shall, upon being moved and seconded, stand referred without discussion to such committee or to such other committee as the Council may determine for report; provided that the presiding Chairman, if he/she considers it to be a matter of urgency, may allow it to be dealt with at the meeting at which it was moved.

7.6 Every motion shall be relevant to some question over which the Council has power or which affects the Town.

8. OTHER MOTIONS

8.1 Motions dealing with the following matters may be moved without notice:

  1. To appoint a chairman of the meeting;
  2. To correct an inaccuracy in the draft minutes of a meeting.
  3. To approve the minutes.
  4. To alter the order of business
  5. To proceed to the next business.
  6. To close or adjourn the debate.
  7. To refer a matter to a committee.
  8. To appoint a committee or any members thereof.
  9. To adopt a report.
  10. To authorise the sealing of documents.
  11. To amend a motion.
  12. To give leave to withdraw a motion or an amendment.
  13. To extend the time limit for speeches.
  14. To consider a question affecting an employee of the Council otherwise than after the power of exclusion of the public under section 1(2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act, 1960 has been exercised.
  15. To suspend standing orders, except those mandatory by law.
  16. To exclude the press and public under section 1(2) of the public bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act, 1960.
  17. To silence or eject from the meeting a member named for misconduct.
  18. To invite a member having an interest in the subject matter under debate to remain.
  19. To give the consent of the Council where such consent is required by these standing orders.
  20. To extend the time limit for which the meeting is normally open to the public.
  21. To appoint Working Parties whose constitutions may be determined at the time by Council.
  22. To defer consideration of a motion.
  23. To appoint a person to preside at a meeting.
  24. To require a written report.
  25. To hear further from a councillor or member of the public.
  26. To temporarily suspend the meeting.
  27. To adjourn the meeting.
  28. To close a meeting.

9. QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS

9.1 A member may ask the presiding chairman any question concerning the business of the Council.

9.2 A member with or without notice may ask the Chairman of a committee or Working Party any question upon the proceedings of the Committee or Working Party then before the Council if the question is put before the Council's consideration of those proceedings is finished.

9.3 Every question shall be put and answered without discussion.

9.4 A person to whom a question has been put may decline to answer.

10. RULES OF DEBATE FOR MEETING

10.1 No discussion shall take place upon the minutes except upon their accuracy. Corrections to the minutes shall be made by resolution and must be initialled by the presiding Chairman.

10.2 A motion or amendment shall not be discussed unless it has been proposed and seconded, and, unless proper notice has already been given, it shall, if required by the presiding Chairman, be reduced to writing and handed to him before it is further discussed or put to the meeting.

10.3 A member when seconding a motion or amendment may, if he/she then declares an intention to do so, reserve his/her speech until a later period of the debate.

10.4 A member shall direct his/her speech to the question under discussion or to a personal explanation or to a question of order.

10.5

  1. No speech shall exceed five minutes, except by consent of the Council.
  2. Every member has the right to speak once on any item but may only speak again at the discretion of the Chairman and not before all other members wishing to speak have been heard.

10.6 An amendment shall be either-

  1. to leave out words
  2. to leave out words and insert or add others.
  3. to insert or add words

10.7 An amendment shall not have the effect of negating the motion before the Council.

10.8 If an amendment be carried, the motion as amended, shall take the place of the original motion and shall become the motion upon which any further amendment may be moved.

10.9 A further amendment shall not be moved until the Council has disposed of every amendment previously moved.

10.10 The mover of a motion or of an amendment shall have a right of reply.

10.11 A member, other than the mover of a motion shall not, without leave of the Council, speak more than once on any motion except to move an amendment or further amendment or on an amendment, or on a point of order or in a personal explanation or to move the closure.

10.12 A member may rise to make a point of order or a personal explanation. A personal explanation shall be confined to some material part of a former speech by him/her which may have been misunderstood. A member rising for these purposes shall be heard forthwith.

10.13 A motion or amendment may be withdrawn by the proposer with the unanimous consent of the Council, which shall be signified without discussion, and no member may speak upon it after permission has been asked for its withdrawal unless such permission has been refused.

10.14 When a motion is under debate no other motion shall be moved except the following

  1. To amend the motion.
  2. To proceed to the next business
  3. To adjourn the debate
  4. That the question be now put
  5. That a member named be not further heard
  6. That a member named do leave the meeting
  7. That the motion be referred to a committee
  8. To exclude the public or the press or both
  9. To adjourn the meeting.

10.15 The mover of a motion shall have a right of reply immediately before the motion is put to the vote. If an amendment is proposed the mover of the amendment shall be entitled to reply immediately before the amendment is put to the vote. A member exercising a right of reply shall not introduce new matter. After the right of reply has been exercised or waived, a vote shall be taken without further discussion.

10.16 A member may, with the consent of his/her seconder, move amendments to his/her own motion.

10.17 The ruling of the presiding Chairman on a point of order or on the admissibility of a personal explanation shall not be discussed.

10.18 Members shall address the presiding Chairman.

10.19 A member may only speak when called upon by the Chairman.

10.20 Whenever the presiding Chairman rises during a debate all other members shall be seated and silent.

10.21 At the end of any speech a member may, without comment move "that the motion be now put", "that the debate be now adjourned" or "that the Council now adjourn". If such motion is seconded and if the presiding Chairman is of the opinion that the question before the Council has been sufficiently debated (but not otherwise), he/she shall forthwith put the motion. If the motion "that the question be now put" is carried, he/she shall call upon the mover of the motion under debate to exercise or waive his/her right of reply and shall put the question immediately after that right has been exercised or waived. The adjournment of a debate or of the council shall not prejudice the mover's right of reply at the resumption.

11. DISORDERLY CONDUCT

11.1 No member shall misconduct him/herself at a meeting by persistently disregarding the rulings of the presiding Chairman, by wilfully obstructing business, or by behaving irregularly, offensively, improperly, or in such a manner as to scandalise the Council or bring them into contempt or ridicule.

11.2 If, in the opinion of the presiding Chairman a member has so misconducted him/herself, the presiding Chairman shall express that opinion to the Council and thereafter any member may move that the member named be no longer heard or that the member named leave the meeting, and the motion, if seconded, shall be put forthwith and without discussion.

11.3 If either of the motions mentioned in paragraph (2) is disobeyed, the presiding Chairman may suspend the meeting or take such further steps as may reasonably be necessary to enforce them.

12. DISTURBANCE BY THE PUBLIC

If a member of the public interrupts the proceedings of any meeting the presiding chairman shall warn him/her. If he/ she continues the interruption the presiding Chairman shall order his/her removal from the chamber. In case of general disturbance in any part of the chamber open to the public the presiding Chairman shall order that part to be cleared.

13. VOTING

13.1 Members shall vote by show of hands unless the Council instructs a vote by ballot.

13.2 If a member so requires, the Town Clerk shall call out the names of the members of the Council and shall enter "yes" or "no" against their names on a list which shall be recorded in the minutes.

13.3 The Chairman may give an original vote on any matter put to the vote, and in the case of an equality of votes the presiding Chairman shall have a second or casting vote.

14. RESCISSION OF PRECEDING RESOLUTIONS

No motion to rescind any resolution passed within the preceding six calendar months, nor any motion or amendment to the same effect as one which has been rejected within the preceding six calendar months, shall be proposed unless notice thereof shall have been given and entered on the agenda, and the notice shall bear (in addition to the name of the member who gives it) the signatures of five other members (as a minimum). When any such motion has been disposed of by the Council, it shall not be competent for any member to propose a motion to the same effect within a further period of six calendar months, but this standing order shall not apply to a recommendation contained in the report of a committee.

15. COMMITTEES

15.1 The Council may at its Annual Meeting appoint statutory and standing committees and may at any other time appoint such other committees as are necessary, but subject to any statutory provision in that behalf:

  1. shall not appoint any member of a committee so as to hold office later than the next annual meeting,
  2. may at any time dissolve or alter the membership of a committee.

15.2 The Town Mayor or Deputy Town Mayor shall be members of every committee.

15.3 Every committee shall at its first meeting before proceeding to any other business elect a chairman and may elect a vice-chairman who shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the Council.

15.4 The chairman of a committee or the Town Mayor may summon a special meeting of that committee at any time. A special meeting may also be summoned on the requisition in writing of not less than a quarter of the members of the committee. The summons shall set out the business to be considered at the special meeting and no other business shall be transacted at that meeting.

15.5 Every committee may appoint sub-committees for purposes to be specified by the committee but they shall not delegate their powers to a sub-committee.

15.6 The chairman and vice chairman of the committee shall be members of every sub-committee appointed by it unless they signify that they do not wish to serve.

15.7 Except where ordered by the Council in the case of a committee or by the Council or by the appropriate committee in the case of a sub-committee, the quorum of a committee or sub-committee shall be one half of its members.

16. PROCEEDINGS IN COMMITTEE

16.1 Standing Order No 9 (except those parts relating to standing and to speaking more than once) and Standing Order No 27 on interests of members in contracts and other matters shall apply to committee and sub-committee meetings insofar as they are appropriate.

16.2 Members of committees and sub-committees shall vote by show of hands.

16.3 Chairmen of committees and sub-committees shall, in the event of an equality of votes, have a second or casting vote.

16.4 A member who has proposed a motion which has been referred to any committee of which he/she is not a member, shall be entitled to explain his/her motion to the committee but shall not vote.

16.5 Any member of the Council shall, unless the Council otherwise orders, be entitled to be present as a spectator at the meetings of any committee or sub-committee of which he/she is not a member.

17. ADMISSION TO MEETINGS

17.1 The public and representatives of the press shall be admitted to all meetings of the Council and committees of the Council.

17.2 The public and representatives of the press may be excluded from any part of a meeting where in the opinion of the Council or a committee of the Council publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted and the Council or the Committee make an appropriate resolution pursuant to Section 1(2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 or any enactment amending or replacing that Act.

17.3 The Town Clerk shall afford to the press reasonable facilities for taking their report of any proceedings at which they are entitled to be present.

17.4 The presiding Chairman shall have power to allow any member of the public to speak on any matter at his discretion at the commencement of any meeting of the Council, with the exception of the Council's Annual Meeting for a maximum time of 3 minutes. The Chairman will advise that a response will be given as part of Agenda Item 1 on the Town Clerk’s Report.

17.5 Members of the public shall not be permitted to speak at meetings of committees of the Council unless specifically invited to attend a particular meeting of a committee to discuss particular subjects.

17.6 A notice of meeting shall be sent together with an invitation to attend to the County Councillor for the division in which the parish lies and to the District Councillor or Councillors for the parish, and to the officer in charge at Southam Police Station, who will be permitted to address meetings of the Council and committees of the Council at the discretion of the presiding Chairman.

17.7 A person may not orally report or comment about a meeting as it takes place if he is present at the meeting of Southam Town Council but otherwise may:

  1. film, photograph or make an audio recording of a meeting;
  2. use any other means for enabling persons not present to see or hear proceedings at a meeting as it takes place or later;
  3. report or comment on the proceedings in writing during or after a meeting or orally report or comment after the meeting.

18. APPOINTMENTS

18.1 Where more than two persons have been nominated for any position to be filled by the Council and of the votes given there is not an absolute majority in favour of one person, the name of the person having the least number of votes shall be struck off the list and a fresh vote taken, and so on until a majority of votes is given in favour of one person. A tie in votes maybe settled by the casting vote exerciseable by the chairman of the meeting.

18.2 If at a meeting there arises any questions relating to the appointment, conduct, promotion, dismissal, salary, or conditions of service, of any person employed by the Council, it shall not be considered by the Council until the Council has decided whether or not the public shall be excluded.

18.3 If a candidate for any appointment under the Council is to his/her knowledge related to any member of or the holder of any office under the Council, he/she and the person to whom he/she is related shall disclose the relationship in writing to the Town Clerk. A candidate who fails so to do shall be disqualified for such appointment, and if appointed may be dismissed without notice. The Town Clerk shall report to the Council or to the appropriate committee any such disclosure. Where the relationship to a member is disclosed the Standing Orders on interests of members in contracts and other matters shall apply. The Town Clerk shall make known the purport of this Standing Order to every candidate.

18.4 Canvassing of members or of any committee, directly or indirectly for any appointment under the Council shall disqualify the candidate for such appointment. The Town Clerk shall make known the purport of this sub-paragraph of the Standing Order to every candidate.

18.5 A member of the Council shall not solicit for any person any appointment under the Council or recommend any person for such appointment or for promotion; but nevertheless a member may give a written testimonial of a candidate's ability, experience or character for submission to the Council with an application for appointment.

19. SEALING OF DOCUMENTS

19.1 Any two members of the Council may seal, on behalf of the Council, any document required by law to be issued under seal.

19.2 A document shall not be sealed on behalf of the Council unless its sealing has been authorised by a resolution of the Council.

20. INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS

20.1 A member may for the purpose of his/her duty as such (but not otherwise) inspect any document in possession of the Council or a committee of the Council, and if copies are available shall, on request, be supplied for the like purpose with a copy.

20.2 All minutes kept by the Council and by any committees shall be open for the inspection of any member of the Council and any elector during reasonable hours of the day and for such purpose "reasonable hours of the day" shall mean during such hours that the office of the Town Council is open to the public.

21. INSPECTION OF LANDS AND PREMISES

21.1 No member shall in the name of the Council, inspect any lands or premises which the Council has the right or duty to inspect unless authorised to do so by the Council or by a committee.

21.2 Receive and retain copies of byelaws made by other local authorities.

22. SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

22.1 Subject to paragraph (2) hereof any of the preceding Standing Orders may be suspended so far as regards any business at the meeting where their suspension is moved.

22.2 A motion to suspend Standing Orders shall not be moved without notice under Standing Order No 8 (15) unless there shall be present at least two-thirds of the whole number of the members of the Council.

23. VARIATION AND REVOCATION OF STANDING ORDERS

Any motion to add, to vary or revoke these Standing Orders shall when proposed and seconded be referred without discussion to the next ordinary meeting of the Council.

24. PUBLICATION OF STANDING ORDERS

A printed copy of the Standing Orders together with a printed copy of any amendments thereto shall be delivered to each member by the Town Clerk upon delivery to him of the member's declaration of acceptance of office.

25. CONFIDENTIALITY

The agenda, papers that support the agenda and the minutes of a meeting shall not disclose or otherwise undermine confidential or sensitive information which for special reasons would not be in the public interest.

No member of the Council or any committee or sub-committee of the Council shall disclose to any person not a member of the Council any business declared to be confidential by the Council, Committee or sub-committee, as the case may be.

WITH RESPECT TO FINANCIAL MATTERS

26. ACCOUNTS AND ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS

26.1 "Proper practices" in standing orders refer to the most recent version of [Governance and Accountability for Local Councils – a Practitioners’ Guide (England)] OR [Governance and Accountability for Local Councils in Wales – A Practitioners’ Guide].

26.2 All payments by the council shall be authorised, approved and paid in accordance with the law, proper practices and the council’s financial regulations.

26.3 The Responsible Financial Officer shall supply to each councillor on a quarterly basis each year a statement to summarise:

  1. the council’s receipts and payments for each quarter;
  2. the council’s aggregate receipts and payments for the year to date;
  3. the balances held at the end of the quarter being reportedand which includes a comparison with the budget for the financial year and highlights any actual or potential overspends.

26.4 As soon as possible after the financial year end at 31 March, the Responsible Financial Officer shall provide:

  1. each councillor with a statement summarising the council’s receipts and payments for the last quarter and the year to date for information; and
  2. to the full council the accounting statements for the year in the form of Section 1 of the annual return, as required by proper practices, for consideration and approval.

26.5 The year end accounting statements shall be prepared in accordance with proper practices and applying the form of accounts determined by the council (receipts and payments, or income and expenditure) for a year to 31 March. A completed draft annual return shall be presented to each councillor before the end of the following month of May. The annual return of the council, which is subject to external audit, including the annual governance statement, shall be presented to council for consideration and formal approval before 30 June.

27. FINANCIAL CONTROLS AND PROCUREMENT

27.1 The council shall consider and approve financial regulations drawn up by the Responsible Financial Officer, which shall include detailed arrangements in respect of the following:

  1. the keeping of accounting records and systems of internal controls;
  2. the assessment and management of financial risks faced by the council;
  3. the work of the independent internal auditor in accordance with proper practices and the receipt of regular reports from the internal auditor, which shall be required at least annually;
  4. the inspection and copying by councillors and local electors of the council’s accounts and/or orders of payments; and
  5. procurement policies (subject to standing order 18(c) below) including the setting of values for different procedures where a contract has an estimated value of less than [£5,000].

27.2 Financial regulations shall be reviewed annually.

27.3 Financial regulations shall confirm that a proposed contract for the supply of goods, materials, services and the execution of works with an estimated value in excess of [£5,000] shall be procured on the basis of a formal tender as summarised in standing order 18(d) below.

27.4 Subject to additional requirements in the financial regulations of the council, the tender process for contracts for the supply of goods, materials, services or the execution of works shall include, as a minimum, the following steps:

  1. a specification for the goods, materials, services or the execution of works shall be drawn up;
  2. an invitation to tender shall be drawn up to confirm (i) the council’s specification (ii) the time, date and address for the submission of tenders (iii) the date of the council’s written response to the tender and (iv) the prohibition on prospective contractors contacting councillors or staff to encourage or support their tender outside the prescribed process;
  3. the invitation to tender shall be advertised in any other manner that is appropriate;
  4. tenders are to be submitted in writing in a sealed marked envelope addressed to the Proper Officer.

27.5. tenders shall be opened by the Proper Officer in the presence of at least one other member of staff after the deadline for submission of tenders has passed;

27.6. tenders are to be reported to and considered by the appropriate meeting of the council

27.7 the council, is not bound to accept the lowest value tender.

27.8 Where the value of a contract is likely to exceed £138,893 (or other threshold specified by the Office of Government Commerce from time to time) the council must consider whether the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (SI No. 5, as amended) and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006 (SI No. 6, as amended) apply to the contract and, if either of those Regulations apply, the council must comply with EU procurement rules.

27.9 No member of the Council or of any committee shall issue any orders on behalf of the Council or shall issue any orders in respect of anything being done for the Council unless authorised to do so by the Council or by a committee.

28. CODE OF CONDUCT, DISPENSATIONS AND CODE OF CONDUCT COMPLAINTS

28.1 All councillors shall observe the code of conduct adopted by the council.

28.2 If paragraph 12(2) of the code of conduct contained in the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) Order 2007(SI No. 1159) has been adopted by the Council or pursuant to relevant provisions in a statutory code of conduct in force at the time, councillors may exercise the rights contained in standing order 33.3 below only if members of the public are permitted to (i) make representations, (ii) answer questions and (iii) give evidence relating to the business being transacted.

28.3 Unless he has been granted a dispensation, a councillor shall withdraw from a meeting when it is considering a matter in which he has a disclosable pecuniary interest. He may return to the meeting after it has considered the matter in which he had the interest.

28.4 Unless he has been granted a dispensation, a councillor shall withdraw from a meeting when it is considering a matter in which he has another interest if so required by the council’s code of conduct. He may return to the meeting after it has considered the matter in which he had the interest.

28.5 The Town Clerk has delegated powers to grant dispensations only when there are so many members on the Council that have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that it would impede the transaction of the business (i.e. the meeting would be inquorate).

28.6 The Town Council will not accept Dispensation Requests from members for any other reason.

28.7 Dispensation requests shall be in writing and submitted to the Proper Officer no less than 7 working days prior to a meeting.

28.8 The Clerk shall record in the minutes (that are available at any time for inspection) in a book to be kept for the purpose, particulars of any notice given by any member or any officer of the Council of a pecuniary interest in a contract and the book shall be open during reasonable hours of the day.

29. CODE OF CONDUCT COMPLAINTS

29.1 Upon notification by the Stratford District Council dealing with a complaint that a councillor has breached the council’s code of conduct, the Proper Officer shall report this to the council.

29.2 Where the notification in standing order above relates to a complaint made by the Proper Officer, the Proper Officer shall notify the Chairman of Council of this fact, and the Chairman shall nominate another staff member to assume the duties of the Proper Officer in relation to the complaint until it has been determined and the council has agreed what action, if any, to take, in accordance with council policies.

29.3 The council may:

  1. provide information or evidence where such disclosure is necessary to progress an investigation of the complaint or is required by law;
  2. seek information relevant to the complaint from the person or body with statutory responsibility for investigation of the matter;
  3. Upon notification by Stratford District Council that a councillor has breached the council’s code of conduct, the council shall consider what, if any, action to take against him. Such action excludes disqualification or suspension from office.

30. HANDLING OF STAFF MATTERS

30.1 To be dealt with by the appointed Personnel Working Party who should seek advice from WALC prior to dealing with a personnel issue and if it is a grievance matter the Town Council Grievance Procedure should be followed.

30.2 Any persons responsible for all or part of the management of staff shall treat the written records of all meetings relating to their performance, capabilities, grievance or disciplinary matters as confidential and secure.

30.3 The council shall keep all written records relating to employees secure. All paper records shall be secured and locked and electronic records shall be password protected. Only persons with line management responsibilities shall have access to staff records.

30.4 Access and means of access by keys and/or computer passwords to records of employment shall be provided only to (post holder) and the Personnel Working Party.

31. REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION

31.2 Requests for information held by the council shall be handled in accordance with the council’s policy in respect of handling requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998.

31.3 Correspondence from, and notices served by, the Information Commissioner shall be referred by the Proper Officer to the Council who have the power to do anything to facilitate compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

32. RESTRICTIONS ON COUNCILLOR ACTIVITIES

Unless authorised by a resolution, no councillor shall: inspect any land and/or premises which the council has a right or duty to inspect; or issue orders, instructions or directions.

33. THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Background

The development and widespread use of social media including website fora have additional constraints on the way Councillors carry out their duties. Social media are by their very nature interactive processes and revolve around "conversations"; and as they occur online they will remain permanent. Councillors must take care and be respectful of what and where it is posted as there is potentially a large audience.

Scope

When considering using any form of social media there are points that Councillors and Staff must always accept and agree. These are as follows:

  1. Unless they are specifically authorised, they must understand that they are communicating on a personal basis and not that of Southam Town Council.
  2. May report decisions made by Council, but must take care to ensure that any comments made respect the Council’s position.
  3. Must consider what they are communicating very carefully and take all reasonable steps to ensure their views could not be misrepresented in any way.
  4. Never engage in false, inappropriate, threatening, harassing or defaming conduct that would be harmful to the Council or its employees or would damage Council relationships.
  5. Must never disclose confidential information through their position as Councillor or employee.
  6. Abide by the Data Protection Act.
  7. Treat others with respect. Avoid personal attacks and disrespectful, rude or offensive comments.
  8. Comply with equality laws. Take care in publishing anything that might be considered sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic or anti-faith.
  9. Ensure clarity and transparency between your personal views and those authorised by the council.
  10. Refrain from trying to persuade the public to a particular view, promote an individual councillor’s proposals, decisions or recommendations.
  11. Be objective, balanced, informative and accurate.
  12. Do not publish anything that could be deemed libellous.
  13. Do not publish, link to or refer to obscene material.
  14. Do not breach Copyright.
  15. Avoid bias and pre determination.

A breach of any of the above could bring the Council in disrepute. Any alleged breach could lead to further action being taken, which could include referral to the Monitoring Officer.

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