SO WHAT MUST YOU DO AS A COUNCIL? From the Good Councillor Guide 2017.
The law gives local councils choice in activities to undertake; but surprisingly there are very few duties, or activities that they must carry out in delivering services to local people. Exceptions are that a council must:
- comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010
- publish certain information such as annual accounts, notice of meetings, agendas and meeting notes
- comply with the relevant Local Government Transparency Code (see further details on page 26) comply with employment law
- consider the impact of their decisions on reducing crime and disorder in their area
- have regard to the protection of biodiversity in carrying out their functions consider the provisionof allotments if there is demand for them from local residents and it is reasonable to do so decide whether to adopt a churchyard when it is closed, if asked to do so by the Parochial Church Council.
Your local council also has a duty to ensure that all the rules for the administration of the council are followed. The council must:
- appoint a chairman of the council
- appoint o cers as appropriate for carrying out itsfunctions
- appoint a responsible nancial o cer (RFO) to manage the council’s nancial a airs; the RFO is often the clerk, especially in smaller councils
- appoint an independent and competent internal auditor — see below
- adopt a Code of Conduct — see below
- hold a minimum number of four meetings per year, one of which must be the Annual Meeting of the Council — see below.These rules are set out in law to guide the procedures of the council and your council can add its own regulations. Together these rules make up standing orders as formally agreed by your council (see Part Three). If you discover that your council does not have its own (non- nancial) standing orders don’t panic; this is unwise, but dutiesset out in statute, such as appointing a chairman and a proper o cer, still apply. The National Association of Local Councils (see Part Five) provides model standing orders.Council, committee and sub-committee meetings must generally be open to the public and the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 mean that councils must allow members of the public to record and report the proceedings of public meetings. Equality
legislation reminds the council that it must make its meetings accessible to anyone who wishes to attend.
Similarly the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires the council to have a publication scheme explaining how certain types of council information are made available.
If you are beginning to think there are too many rules, remember that they protect people’s rights (including yours) and give con dence that the council is properly run.