Surlingham Parish Council: Standing orders

N.B. Text in italics bold indicates a mandatory and statutory requirement. As instructed by the National Association of Local Councils

1. Rules of debate at meetings

a)  Items on the agenda shall be considered in the order that they appear unless the order is changed at the discretion of the chairman of the meeting.

b)  Before an item is put to the vote, the chairman of the meeting shall be satisfied that the motion has been sufficiently debated.

2. Disorderly conduct at meetings

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.

3. Meetings generally

a)  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.

b)  The minimum three clear working days for notice of either Council or Committee meetings does not include the day on which notice was issued, the day of the meeting.

c)  When directed by the Chairman, 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.

d)  The period designated for public question time at a meeting shall not exceed 15 minutes unless directed by the chairman of the meeting.  During this period questions will not be heard concerning items already on the agenda. See item 3(c).

e)  In accordance with standing order 3(d) above, a question shall not require a response at the meeting nor start a debate on the question. The chairman of the meeting may direct that a written or oral response be given or that an item is added to the agenda for the next meeting.

f)  A person who speaks at a meeting shall direct his comments to the chairman of the meeting.

g)  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.

h)  Photographing, recording, broadcasting or transmitting the proceedings of a meeting by any means is not permitted without the Council’s prior written consent.

i)  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.

j)  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.

k)  Subject to a meeting being quorate(3), all questions at a meeting shall be decided by a majority of the councillors present and voting.

l) 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

m) Unless standing orders provide otherwise,voting on a question shall be by a show of hands. The voting on any question shall be recorded to show the number of votes for or against that question.

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

i)  the time and place of the meeting;
ii)  the names of councillors present and absent;
iii)  interests that have been declared by councillors;
iv)  whether a councillor left the meeting when matters that they held interests in were being considered;
v)  if there was a public participation session;
vi)  the resolutions made.

 

o)  A councillor or 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.

p)  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.

q)  Ifameetingisorbecomesinquoratenobusinessshallbe transacted and the meeting shall be closed. The business on the agenda for the meeting shall be adjourned to another meeting.

r)  A meeting shall not exceed a period of 2 hours

4. Committees

a)  The members of a committee may include non-councillors unless it is a committee which regulates and controls the finances of the council.

b)  The council may appoint other committees as may be necessary, and:

i) shall determine their terms of reference;
ii) shall permit a committee, other than in respect of theordinary meetings of a committee, to determine the numberand time of its meetings;
iii) shall, subject to standing orders 4(a) above, appoint anddetermine the terms of office of members of such acommittee;
iv) shall permit a committee, to appoint its own chairman at thefirst meeting of the committee;
v) shall determine the place, notice requirements and quorumfor a meeting of a committee which shall be no less thanthree; and
vi) may dissolve a committee.

5. Appointment of Trustees–Surlingham Charities

a) The council is responsible for appointing four Trustees to the combined Surlingham Charities.

b) Trustees are appointed for a term of 3 years

c) Trustees upon completion of their term can apply to be considered for reappointed

d) The positions will be advertised using all forms of media to ensure parishioners are made aware and can apply.

6. Ordinary meetings

a)  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.

b)  In a year which is not an election year, the annual meeting of a council shall be held on the third Tuesday in May.

c)  In addition to the annual meeting of the council, ordinary meetings shall be held on the third Tuesday of each month excluding August.

d)  The first business conducted at the annual meeting of the council shall be the election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council.

e)  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.

f)  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.

g)  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.

h)  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.

i)  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:

i)  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;
ii)  Review of delegation arrangements to committees, staff and other local authorities;
iii)  Review of the terms of reference for committees;iv)  Appointment of members to existing committees;
v)  Appointmentofanynewcommitteesinaccordancewithstanding order 4 above;
vi)  Dissolving of any committees in accordance with standingorder 4 vi above;
vii) Review and adoption of appropriate standing orders andfinancial regulations;
viii) Review of inventory of land and assets including buildingsand office equipment;
ix)  Review of the council’s complaints procedure;x)  Review of the council’s procedures for handling requestsmade under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998;

7. Extraordinary meetings of the council and committees

a) The Chairman of the Council may convene an extraordinary meeting of the council at any time.

b) 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.

c) The chairman of a committee may convene an extra ordinary meeting of the committee at any time.

d) If the chairman of a committee does not or refuses to call an extraordinary meeting within 7 days of having been requested by to do so by at least 2 members of the committee, 2 members of the committee (1 member being an elected/co-opted councillor), may convene an extraordinary meeting of a committee.

8. Previous resolutions

A resolution shall not be reversed within six months except either by a special motion, which requires written notice by at least 2 councillors to be given to the Proper Officer, or by a motion moved in pursuance of the recommendation of a committee.

9. 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 exercised by the chairman of the meeting.

10. Handling confidential or sensitive information

a)  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.

b)  Councillors and staff shall not disclose confidential or sensitive information which for special reasons would not be in the public interest.

11. Draft minutes

a)  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.

b)  There shall be no discussion about the draft minutes of a preceding meeting except in relation to their accuracy.

c)  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.

d)  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 held on [date] in respect of (item) were a correct record but his view was not upheld by the meeting and the minutes are confirmed as an accuraterecord of the proceedings.”

e)  Uponaresolutionwhichconfirmstheaccuracyoftheminutesofa meeting, the draft minutes or recordings of the meeting for which approved minutes exist shall be destroyed.

12. Code of conduct and dispensations

See also standing order 3(c) above

a)  All councillors and non-councillors with voting rights shall observe the code of conduct adopted by the council.

b)  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.

c)  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.

d)  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.

e)  A decision as to whether to grant a dispensation shall be made by a meeting of the council, or committee for which the dispensation is required, and that decision is final.

f)  A dispensation request shall confirm:

i)  the description and the nature of the disclosable pecuniary interest or other interest to which the request for the dispensation relates;
ii)  whether the dispensation is required to participate at a meeting in a discussion only or a discussion and a vote;
iii)  the date of the meeting for which the dispensation is sought; and
iv)  an explanation as to why the dispensation is sought.

g)  Subject to standing orders 13(d) and (f) above, dispensations requests shall be considered at the beginning of the meeting of the council, or committee for which the dispensation is required.

h)  A dispensation may be granted in accordance with standing order 11(e) above if having regard to all relevant circumstances the following applies:

i)  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
ii)  granting the dispensation is in the interests of personsliving in the council’s area or
iii)  it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.

13. Code of conduct complaints

a)  Upon notification by the District or County Council that it is dealing with a complaint that a councillor or non-councillor with voting rightshas breached the council’s code of conduct, the Proper Officer shall, subject to standing order 9 above, report this to the council.

b)  The council may:

i)  provide information or evidence where such disclosure is necessary to progress an investigation of the complaint or is required by law;
ii)  seek information relevant to the complaint from the person or body with statutory responsibility for investigation of the matter;

c)  Upon notification by the Districtor Unitary Council that a councillor or non-councillor with voting rights has breachedthe 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.

14. Proper officer

a)  The Proper Officer is the clerk.

b)  The Proper Officer is an employee

c)  The Proper Officer is not related to any member of the parish council. Relationships include partners or cohabitees.

d)  The Proper Officer shall:

i) at least three clear working days before a meeting of the council, a committee serve on councillors, by delivery, post or email at their residences, a signed summons confirming the time, place and the agenda.
ii) give public notice of the time, place and agenda at least three clear working 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);
iii) convene a meeting of full council for the election of a new Chairman of the Council, occasioned by a casual vacancy in his office;
iv) facilitate inspection of the minutes by local government electors;
v) retain acceptance of office forms from councillors;
vi) retain a copy of every councillor’s register of interests;
vii) assist with responding to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998, inaccordance with and subject to the council’s policies andprocedures relating to the same;
viii) receive and send general correspondence and notices on behalf of the council except where there is a resolution to the contrary;
ix) manage the organisation, storage of, access to and destruction of information held by the council in paper and electronic form;
x) arrange for legal deeds to be executed;See also standing order 20 below.
xi) arrange or manage the prompt authorisation, approval, and instruction regarding any payments to be made by the councilin accordance with the council’s financial regulations;
xii) refer a planning application received by the council to all councillors 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;
xiii) manage access to information about the council via the publication scheme;

15. Responsible Finance Officer

The Clerk is the Responsible Finance Officer

16. Account and Accounting statements

a)  “Proper practices”in standing orders refer to the most recent version of Governance and Accountability for Local Councils – a Practitioners’ Guide (England).

b)  Allpaymentsbythecouncilshallbeauthorised,approvedandpaidin accordance with the law, proper practices and the council’sfinancial regulations.

c) TheResponsibleFinancialOfficershallsupplytoeachcouncilloras soon as practicable after 30 June, 30 September and 31 December in each year a statement to summarise:

i) the council’s receipts and payments for each quarter;
ii) the council’s aggregate receipts and payments for the year todate;
iii) the balances held at the end of the quarter being reported and which includes a comparison with the budget for the financial year and highlights any actual or potential overspends.

 

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

i) each councillor with a statement summarising the council’s receipts and payments for the last quarter and the year to date for information; and
ii) 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.

e)  The year-end accounting statements shall be prepared in accordance with proper practices applying the form of accounts determined by the council (receipts and payments) for a year to 31 March.

f)  The annual return of the council, which may be subject to external audit, including the annual governance statement, shall be presented to council for consideration and formal approval as dictated by the external auditor (if applicable).

17. Financial controls and procurement

a) 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:

i) the keeping of accounting records and systems of internal controls;
ii) the assessment and management of financial risks faced by the council;
iii) the work of the independent internal auditor in accordance with proper practices and the receipt of the annual report from the internal auditor;
iv) the inspection and copying by councillors and local electors of the council’s accounts and/or orders of payments in line with the completion of the annual return.

 

b) Financial regulations shall be reviewed regularly and at least annually for fitness of purpose.

18. Requests for information

a) Requestsforinformationheldbythecouncilshallbehandledin accordance with regard to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018.

b)  Correspondencefrom,andnoticesservedby,theInformation 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 and the GDPR 2018.

19. Relations with the press and media

Press releases will be authorised by the Chair on behalf of the council

20. Execution of legal deeds

a) A legal deed shall not be executed on behalf of the council unless authorised by a resolution.

b)  Subject to standing order 20(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.

21. Communicating with District and County 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.

22.Standing orders generally

a) All or part of a standing order, except one that incorporates mandatory statutory requirements, may be suspended by resolution in relation to the consideration of an item on the agenda for a meeting.

b)  A motion to add to or vary or revoke one or more of the council’s standing orders, except one that incorporates mandatory statutory requirements, shall be proposed by a special motion, the written notice by at least 2 councillors to be given to the Proper Officer.

c)  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.

d)  The decision of the chairman of a meeting as to the application of standing orders at the meeting shall be final.