Standing orders that are in bold type contain statutory requirements: therefore they should be adopted without changing them. The other standing orders are designed to help the council operate effectively but do not contain statutory requirements.
- 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.
- Following 4 April 2020 when the Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force, the Council may decide to conduct meetings remotely. Any tools used to support this will be decided by the Council.
- The minimum three clear days for notice of a meeting does not include 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.
- The minimum three clear days’ public notice for a meeting does not include the day on which the notice was issued or the day of the meeting unless the meeting is convened at shorter notice.
- Meetings shall be open to the public unless their presence is prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons. The public’s exclusion from part or all of a meeting shall be by a resolution which shall give reasons for the public’s exclusion.
- Members of the public may make representations, answer questions and give evidence at a meeting which they are entitled to attend in respect of the business on the agenda.
- The period of time designated for public participation at a meeting shall not exceed 20 minutes unless directed by the chairman of the meeting.
- Only one person is permitted to speak at a time. If more than one person wants to speak, the chairman of the meeting shall direct the order of speaking.
- Photographing, recording, broadcasting or transmitting the proceedings of a meeting by any means is permitted.
- The press shall be provided with reasonable facilities for the taking of their report of all or part of a meeting at which they are entitled to be present.
- Subject to standing orders which indicate otherwise, anything authorised or required to be done by, to or before the Chairman of the Council may in his absence be done by, to or before the Vice-Chairman of the Council
- 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.
- Subject to a meeting being quorate, all questions at a meeting shall be decided by a majority of the councillors or councillors with voting rights present and voting.
- No business may be transacted at a meeting unless at least one-third of the whole number of members of the council are present and in no case shall the quorum of a meeting be less than three.
- If a meeting is or becomes inquorate no business shall be transacted and the meeting shall be closed. The business on the agenda for the meeting shall be adjourned to another meeting.
- The chairman of a meeting may give an original vote on any matter put to the vote, and in the case of an equality of votes may exercise his casting vote whether or not he gave an original vote.
- Unless standing orders provide otherwise, voting on a question shall be by a show of hands. At the request of a councillor, the voting on any question shall be recorded so as to show whether each councillor present and voting gave his vote for or against that question. Such a request shall be made before moving on to the next item of business on the agenda.
- The minutes of a meeting shall include an accurate record of the following:
- The time and place of the meeting;
- The names of councillors present and absent;
- Interests that have been declared by councillors and non-councillors with voting rights;
- Whether a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights left the meeting when matters that they held interests in were being considered;
- If there was a public participation session; and
- The resolutions made.
- A councillor or a non-councillor with voting rights who has a disclosable pecuniary interest or another interest as set out in the council’s code of conduct in a matter being considered at a meeting is subject to statutory limitations or restrictions under the code on his right to participate and vote on that matter.
2. Ordinary council meetings
- 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.
- In a year which is not an election year, the annual meeting of a council shall be held on such day in May as the council may direct.
- If no other time is fixed, the annual meeting of the council shall take place at 6pm.
- In addition to the annual meeting of the council, at least three other ordinary meetings shall be held in each year on such dates and times as the council directs.
- The first business conducted at the annual meeting of the council shall be the election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council.
- 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 of the council.
- The Vice-Chairman of the Council, if any, unless he resigns or becomes disqualified, shall hold office until immediately after the election of the Chairman of the Council at the next annual meeting of the council.
- 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.
- Following the election of the Chairman of the Council and Vice-Chairman of the Council at the annual meeting of the council, the business of the annual meeting shall include:
- In an election year, delivery by the Chairman of the Council and councillors of their acceptance of office forms unless the council resolves for this to be done at a later date. In a year which is not an election year, delivery by the Chairman of the Council of his acceptance of office form unless the council resolves for this to be done at a later date;
3. Committees and sub-committees
- Unless the council determines otherwise, a committee may appoint a sub-committee whose terms of reference and members shall be determined by the committee.
- The members of a committee may include non-councillors unless it is a committee which regulates and controls the finances of the council.
- Unless the council determines otherwise, all the members of an advisory committee and a sub-committee of the advisory committee may be non-councillors.
4. Extraordinary meetings of the council and committees and sub-committees
- The Chairman of the Council may convene an extraordinary meeting of the council at any time.
- If the Chairman of the Council does not or refuses to call an extraordinary meeting of the council within seven days of having been requested in writing to do so by two councillors, any two councillors may convene an extraordinary meeting of the council. The public notice giving the time, place and agenda for such a meeting must be signed by the two councillors.
5. Voting on appointments
- Where more than two persons have been nominated for a position to be filled by the council and none of those persons has received an absolute majority of votes in their favour, the name of the person having the least number of votes shall be struck off the list and a fresh vote taken. This process shall continue until a majority of votes is given in favour of one person. A tie in votes may be settled by the casting vote exercisable by the chairman of the meeting.
6. Proper Officer
- The Proper Officer shall be the clerk or other staff member(s) nominated by the council to undertake the work of the Proper Officer when the Proper Officer is absent.
- The Proper Officer shall:
- at least three clear days before a meeting of the council, a committee and a sub-committee serve on councillors a summons, by email or post, confirming the time, place and the agenda provided any such email contains the electronic signature and title of the Proper Officer.
- give public notice of the time, place and agenda at least three clear days before a meeting of the council or a meeting of a committee (provided that the public notice with agenda of an extraordinary meeting of the council convened by councillors is signed by them)
- convene a meeting of full council for the election of a new Chairman of the Council, occasioned by a casual vacancy in his office;
- receive and retain copies of byelaws made by other local authorities;
- retain acceptance of office forms from councillors;
- retain a copy of every councillor’s register of interests;
- assist with responding to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998, in accordance with and subject to the council’s policies and procedures relating to the same;
- receive and send general correspondence and notices on behalf of the council except where there is a resolution to the contrary;
- manage the organisation, storage of, access to and destruction of information held by the council in paper and electronic form;
- arrange for legal deeds to be executed;
- arrange or manage the prompt authorisation, approval, and instruction regarding any payments to be made by the council in accordance with the council’s financial regulations;
- record every planning application notified to the council and the council’s response to the local planning authority in a book for such purpose;
- refer a planning application received by the council to the Chairman or in his absence the Vice-Chairman of the Council within two working days of receipt to facilitate an extraordinary meeting if the nature of a planning application requires consideration before the next ordinary meeting of the council.
7. Motions for a meeting that require written notice to be given to the Proper Officer
- No motion may be moved at a meeting unless it is on the agenda and the mover has given written notice of its wording to the Proper Officer at least 3 clear days before the meeting. Clear days do not include the day of the notice or the day of the meeting.
- If the wording or subject of a proposed motion is considered improper, the Proper Officer shall consult with the chairman of the forthcoming meeting or, as the case may be, the councillors who have convened the meeting, to consider whether the motion shall be included in the agenda or rejected.
- Having consulted the Chairman or councillor pursuant to standing order, the decision of the Proper Officer as to whether or not to include the motion in the agenda shall we final.
8. Motions at a meeting that do not require written notice
- The following motions may be moved at a meeting without written notice to the Proper Officer;
- to correct an inaccuracy in the draft minutes of a meeting;
- to move to a vote;
- to defer consideration of a motion;
- to refer a motion to a particular committee or sub-committee;
- to appoint a person to preside at a meeting;
- to change the order of business on the agenda;
- to proceed to the next business on the agenda;
- to require a written report;
- to appoint a committee or sub-committee and their members;
- to extend the time limits for speaking;
- to exclude the press and public from a meeting in respect of confidential or sensitive information which is prejudicial to the public interest;
- to not hear further from a councillor or a member of the public;
- to exclude a councillor or member of the public for disorderly conduct;
- to temporarily suspend the meeting;
- to suspend a particular standing order (unless it reflects mandatory statutory requirements);
- to adjourn the meeting; or
- to close a meeting.
9. Code of conduct and dispensations
- All councillors and non-councillors with voting rights shall observe the code of conduct adopted by the council.
- Unless he has been granted a dispensation, a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights 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.
- Unless he has been granted a dispensation, a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights 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.
- Dispensation requests shall be in writing and submitted to the Proper Officer as soon as possible before the meeting, or failing that, at the start of the meeting for which the dispensation is required.
- A decision as to whether to grant a dispensation shall be made by the Proper Officer and that decision is final.
- A dispensation request shall confirm:
- the description and the nature of the disclosable pecuniary interest or other interest to which the request for the dispensation relates;
- whether the dispensation is required to participate at a meeting in a discussion only or a discussion and a vote;
- the date of the meeting or the period (not exceeding four years) for which the dispensation is sought; and
- an explanation as to why the dispensation is sought.
- Dispensations requests shall be considered by the Proper Officer before the meeting or, if this is not possible, at the start of the meeting for which the dispensation is required.
- A dispensation may be granted in accordance with standing order 13(e) above if having regard to all relevant circumstances the following applies:
- without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in the particular business would be so great a proportion of the meeting transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business or
- granting the dispensation is in the interests of persons living in the council’s area or
- it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.
10. Code of conduct complaints
- Upon notification by the District Council that it is dealing with a complaint that a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights has breached the council’s code of conduct, the Proper Officer shall report this to the council.
- Where the notification in standing order 10(a) 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 standing order 14(d) below.
- The council may:
- provide information or evidence where such disclosure is necessary to progress an investigation of the complaint or is required by law;
- seek information relevant to the complaint from the person or body with statutory responsibility for investigation of the matter;
- Upon notification by the District or Unitary Council that a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights 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.
11. Draft Minutes
- 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.
- 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(a)(i) above.
- 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.
- 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.”
12. Disorderly conduct
- No person shall obstruct the transaction of business at a meeting or behave offensively or improperly. If this standing order is ignored, the chairman of the meeting shall request such person(s) to moderate or improve their conduct.
- If person(s) disregard the request of the chairman of the meeting to moderate or improve their conduct, any councillor or the chairman of the meeting may move that the person be no longer heard or excluded from the meeting. The motion, if seconded, shall be put to the vote without discussion.
- If a resolution made under standing order 2(b) above is ignored, the chairman of the meeting may take further reasonable steps to restore order or to progress the meeting. This may include temporarily suspending or closing the meeting.
13. Execution and sealing of legal deeds
See also standing orders 6 (b)(x)
- A legal deed shall not be executed on behalf of the council unless authorised by a resolution.
- Subject to standing order 22(a) above, any two councillors may sign, on behalf of the council, any deed required by law and the Proper Officer shall witness their signatures.
14. Financial controls and procurement
- 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:
- the keeping of accounting records and systems of internal controls;
- the assessment and management of financial risks faced by the council;
- 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;
- the inspection and copying by councillors and local electors of the council’s accounts and/or orders of payments
- Financial regulations shall be reviewed regularly and at least annually for fitness of purpose.
- 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 £25,000 shall be procured on the basis of a formal tender as summarised in standing order 14(d) below.
- 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:
- a specification for the goods, materials, services or the execution of works shall be drawn up;
- 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;
- the invitation to tender shall be advertised in a local newspaper, website or noticeboard and in any other manner that is appropriate;
- tenders are to be submitted in writing in a sealed marked envelope addressed to the Proper Officer;
- Where the value of a public works contract has an estimated value of £25,000 or more the Council will register with and use the government’s ‘Contracts Finder’ website.
- The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 imposes further statutory requirements in respect of Public Works contracts valued at £4,322,012 or more or a public supply contract estimated at £172,514.
15. Accounts and accounting statements
- “Proper practices” in standing orders refer to the most recent version of Governance and Accountability for Local Councils – a Practitioners’ Guide
- All payments by the council shall be authorised, approved and paid in accordance with the law, proper practices and the council’s financial regulations.
- The Responsible Financial Officer shall supply to each councillor at each meeting a statement to summarise:
- the council’s receipts and payments for each month;
- the council’s aggregate receipts and payments for the year to date;
- the balances held at the end of the month being reported
- As soon as possible after the financial year end at 31 March, the Responsible Financial Officer shall provide:
- each councillor with a statement summarising the council’s receipts and payments for the year to date for information; and
- 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.
- 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.
- The Council shall approve written estimates for the coming financial year at its meeting before the end of January.
- Any expenditure incurred by the Council shall be in accordance with the Council’s financial regulations.
- The Council’s financial regulations shall be reviewed once a year.
- The Council’s financial regulations may make provision for the authorisation of the payment of money in exercise of any of the Council’s functions to be delegated to a committee or to an employee.
18. Handling confidential or sensitive information
- 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.
- Councillors and staff shall not disclose confidential or sensitive information which for special reasons would not be in the public interest.
19. 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.
20. Power of Competence
- Before exercising the power to promote competence, a meeting of the full Council shall have passed a resolution to confirm it has satisfied the prescribed statutory criteria required to qualify as an eligible parish council.
- The Council’s period of eligibility begins on the date that the resolution under standing order 18 (a) above was made and expires on the day before the annual meeting of the Council that takes place in a year of ordinary elections.
- After the expiry of its preceding period of eligibility, the Council continues to be an eligible council solely for the purpose of completing any activity undertaken in the exercise of the power to promote competence which was not completed before the expiry of the Council’s preceding period of eligibility referred to in standing order 18(b) above.
21. Handling staff matters
- If a meeting considers any matter personal to a Council employee, it shall not be considered until the Council has decided whether or not the press and public shall be excluded pursuant to standing order 1(c) above.
- Employee absence, grievances and disciplinary matters shall be governed by the relevant Council policy.
- Any persons responsible for all or part of the management of Council employees shall keep written records of all meetings relating to their performance, and capabilities, grievance and disciplinary matters.
22. Requests for information
- 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.
- Correspondence from, and notices served by, the Information Commissioner shall be referred by the Proper Officer to the chairman of the council. The council shall have the power to do anything to facilitate compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
23. Relations with the press/media
- Requests from the press or other media for an oral or written comment or statement from the Council, its councillors or staff shall be handled in accordance with the Council’s policy in respect of dealing with the press and/or other media.
24. Communicating with District and County or Unitary councillors
- An invitation to attend a meeting of the council shall be sent, together with the agenda, to the ward councillor(s) of the District and County Council representing the area of the council.
25. Standing orders generally
- The Proper Officer shall provide a copy of the council’s standing orders to a councillor as soon as possible after he has delivered his acceptance of office form.
- The decision of the chairman of a meeting as to the application of standing orders at the meeting shall be final.