Witham Friary Parish Council
8th February 2022
Next Review February 2024
Text items in bold may not be suspended as these are statutory in origin.
Index of Standing Orders
|Standing Orders to be given to councillors
|Accounts and Financial Statement
|Ordinary Council meetings
|Annual General Meeting
|Inspection of documents
|Motions not requiring written notice
|Code of Conduct
|Powers of General Competence
|Matters affecting council employees
|Freedom of Information Act 2000
|Rescission of previous resolutions
|Relations with the press/media
|Voting on appointments
|Liaison with County, District and Unitary Councillors
|Execution & sealing of legal deeds
|Allegations of breaches of the code of conduct
|Committees and Working Parties
|Variation, revocation and suspension of Standing Orders
1 Standing Orders to be given to councillors
- The Proper Officer shall provide a copy of the Council’s Standing Orders to all councillors upon delivery of his declaration of acceptance of office.
- The Chairman’s decision as to the application of Standing Orders at meetings shall be final.
- A councillor’s failure to observe Standing Orders more than 3 times in one meeting may result in her/him being excluded from the meeting in accordance with Standing Orders.
- 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.
- 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, and public Holidays shall not count.
- 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.
- Subject to Standing Order 2c) above, members of the public are permitted to make representations, answer questions and give evidence in respect of any item of business included in the agenda. The period of time which is designated for public participation in accordance with this Order shall not exceed 15 minutes unless voted so by the councillors present.
- In accordance with Standing Order 2d) above, a question asked by a member of the public during a public participation session at a meeting shall not require a response or debate. The Chairman may however direct that a response to a question posed by a member of the public be referred to a councillor for a oral response or to the Clerk for a written or oral response. A brief summary of any public participation session at a meeting shall be included in the minutes of that meeting.
- Any person speaking at a meeting shall address his comments to the Chairman. Only one person is permitted to speak at a time. If more than one person wishes to speak, the Chairman shall direct the Order of speaking.
- Photographing, recording, broadcasting or transmitting the proceedings of a meeting by any means is not permitted without the Council’s prior (written) consent.
- In accordance with Standing Order 2c) above, the press shall be provided reasonable facilities for the taking of their report of all or part of a meeting at which they are entitled to be present.
- 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.
- 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.
- All questions at a meeting shall be decided by a majority of the councillors present and voting thereon.
- The Chairman 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 she/he gave an original vote. (See also Standing Orders 3f) and 3g) below.)
- Voting on any 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 the vote is taken and before moving on to the next item of business on the agenda.
- The minutes of a meeting shall record the names of councillors present and absent.
- The Code of Conduct adopted by the Council shall apply to councillors in respect of the entire meeting.
- 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. (See also Standing Orders 7 below.)
- No business may be transacted at a meeting unless a quorum of the Council is present, which in is 2/3 of elected members.
- If a meeting is or becomes inquorate no business shall be transacted and the meeting shall be adjourned. Any outStanding business of a meeting so adjourned may be delegated to the Clerk in consultation with such members as may be available.
3 Ordinary Meetings and the Annual Meeting of the Council.
- 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 the 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 7.30pm.
- In addition to the Annual Meeting of the Council, other ordinary meetings shall be held in each year on such dates and times as the Council directs.
- The election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council shall be the first business completed at the Annual Meeting of the Council.
- The Chairman of the Council, unless she/he has resigned or becomes disqualified, shall continue in office and preside at the next Annual Meeting until his successor is elected.
- The Vice-Chairman of the Council, unless she/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, she/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, she/he shall preside at the meeting until a new Chairman of the Council has been elected. She/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 elections as above, the Order of business shall be as follows:
- In an election year, delivery by councillors of their declarations of acceptance of office.
- Review of delegation arrangements to committees, sub-committees
- Review of the terms of references for committees
- Arrangements for the review and adoption of appropriate Standing Orders and Financial Regulations
- Make arrangements for the review of inventory of land and assets including buildings and office equipment.
- Make arrangements for the review and confirmation of arrangements for insurance cover in respect of all insured risks.
- Make arrangements for the review of the Council’s and/or employees’ memberships of other bodies.
- Make arrangements for the establishment or review of the Council’s complaints procedures.
- Establishing or reviewing the Council’s procedures for handling requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998
- Make arrangements for the establishment or review of the Council’s policy for dealing with the press/media
- Setting the dates, times and place of ordinary meetings of the full Council for the year ahead.
- In the event of severe weather conditions or any other emergency or unforeseen circumstances, the Clerk may, in consultation with the Chairman of Council, cancel or postpone any meeting of Council or a committee and shall give immediate notice of such cancellation or postponement to as many members of council as is practicable.
4 Proper Officer
- The Council’s Proper Officer shall be either the Clerk or such other person as may be nominated by the Council in the event of the Proper Officer’s absence. The Proper Officer and the person appointed to act as such during the Proper Officer’s absence shall fulfill the duties assigned to the Proper Officer in Standing Orders.
- The Council’s Proper Officer shall:
- Sign and serve on councillors by delivery, post at their residences or by electronic means, a summons confirming the time, date, venue and the agenda of a meeting of the Council and a meeting of a committee and sub-committee at least 3 clear days before the meeting.
- Give public notice of the time, date, venue and agenda at least 3 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, in accordance with Standing Order 3b) i above.
- Make available for inspection the minutes of meetings by publishing them on the Website.
- Ascertain, receive and retain copies of bye-laws made by other local authorities.
- Receive and retain declarations of acceptance of office from councillors.
- Retain a copy of every councillor’s register of interests and any changes to it and keep copies of the same available for inspection.
- Keep proper records required before and after meetings; Process all requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998, in accordance with and subject to the Council’s 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 and access to information held by the Council in paper and electronic form.
- Arrange for legal deeds to be signed by 2 councillors and witnessed.
- Arrange for 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 the minutes of the following meeting where the matter is discussed.
- Refer a planning application received by the Council to the Chair or in his absence Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee within 2 working days of receipt.
- Action or undertake activity or responsibilities instructed by resolution or contained in Standing Orders.
- Declare any casual vacancy arising in the office of councillor following resignation, ceasing to be qualified, disqualification or loss of office due to failure to attend.
6 Motions not requiring written notice
Motions in respect of the following matters may be moved without written notice:
- To appoint a person to preside at a meeting; to approve the absences of councillors.
- To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the previous meeting and to correct an inaccuracy in the minutes of the previous meeting; to dispose of business, if any, remaining from the last meeting.
- To alter the Order of business on the agenda for reasons of urgency or expedience; to close or adjourn debate; to refer by formal delegation a matter to a committee or the Clerk.
- To appoint a committee or any councillors (including substitutes) thereto; to receive nominations to a committee; to dissolve a committee; to note the minutes of a meeting of a committee; To consider a report and/or recommendations made by a committee or the Clerk.
- To consider a report and/or recommendations made by the Clerk, professional advisor, expert or consultant.
- To authorise legal deeds two councillors and witnessed. See Standing Orders 14a) and 14b) below.)
- To amend a motion relevant to the original or substantive motion under consideration which shall not have the effect of nullifying it.
- To exclude the press and public for all or part of a meeting.
- To silence or exclude from the meeting a councillor or a member of the public for disorderly conduct.
- To give the consent of the Council if such consent is required by Standing Orders; to suspend any Standing Order except those which are mandatory by law; to adjourn the meeting.
- To appoint representatives to outside bodies and to make arrangements for those representatives to report back the activities of outside bodies.
- To answer questions from councillors.
7 Code of Conduct
- All councillors shall observe the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council.
- All councillors shall undertake training in the code of conduct within 6 months of the delivery of their declaration of acceptance of office.
- Councillors with a disclosable pecuniary interest must leave the room or chamber during the relevant item of business, unless permitted to remain following the grant of a dispensation.
- Councillors with an interest in relation to any item of business being transacted at a meeting may (i) make representations, (ii) answer questions and (iii) give evidence relating to the business being transacted but must, thereafter, leave the room or chamber, unless permitted to remain following the grant of a dispensation.
- Following a written request to the Proper Officer of the Council (the Clerk), the Council may grant a member a dispensation to participate in a discussion and / or vote on a matter at the meeting even if she/he has any form of interest (disclosable pecuniary, other) if the Council believes that the number of members otherwise prohibited from taking part in the meeting would impede the transaction of the business; or it is in the interests of the inhabitants in the council’s area to allow the member to take part; or it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation. The grant of a dispensation is automatically delegated to the Clerk and any dispensation may permit the councillor to speak, or to speak and vote.
- A copy of the draft minutes shall be placed on the website as soon as they are available.
- If a copy of the draft minutes of a preceding meeting has been circulated to councillors no later than the day of service of the summons to attend the scheduled meeting they shall be taken as read.
- No discussion of the draft minutes of a preceding meeting shall take place except in relation to their accuracy. A motion to correct an inaccuracy in the minutes shall be raised in accordance with Standing Order 6b)
- Minutes, including any amendment to correct their accuracy, 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, she/he shall sign the minutes and state his objections.
- Upon a resolution which confirms the accuracy of the minutes of a meeting, any previous draft minutes or recordings of the meeting shall be destroyed and the copy on the website shall be removed.
9 Disorderly Conduct
No person shall obstruct the transaction of business at a meeting or behave offensively or improperly; If, in the opinion of the Chairman, there has been a breach of this Standing Order, the Chairman shall express that opinion and thereafter any councillor (including the Chairman) may move that the person be silenced or excluded from the meeting, and the motion, if seconded, shall be put forthwith and without discussion. If a resolution made in accordance with this Standing Order, is disobeyed, the Chairman may take such further steps as may reasonably be necessary to enforce it and/or she/he may adjourn the meeting.
10 Rescission of previous resolutions
A resolution (whether affirmative or negative) of the Council shall not be reversed within 6 months except either by a special motion, the written notice whereof bears the names of at least 3 councillors of the Council, or by a motion moved in pursuance of the report or recommendation of a committee; When a special motion or any other motion moved pursuant to this Standing Order has been disposed of, no similar motion may be moved within a further 6 months.
11 Voting on appointments
Where more than 2 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. Any tie may be settled by the Chairman’s casting vote.
- Any expenditure incurred by the Council shall be in accordance with the Council’s Financial Regulations, which 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 the Clerk.
13 Execution and sealing of legal deeds
See also Standing Order 6 f) above
- A legal deed shall not be executed on behalf of the Council unless the same has been authorised by a resolution.
- In accordance with a resolution made under Standing Order 13 a) above, any two members of the Council, may sign, on behalf of the Council, any deed required by law and the Proper Officer shall witness their signatures.
14 Committees and Working Parties
See also Standing Order 2 above
- The Council may, at its Annual Meeting, appoint a Staffing Committee and other standing committees or working parties and may at any other time appoint such other committees as may be necessary and
- it shall determine their terms of reference;
- it shall permit committees to determine the dates of their meetings;
- it shall appoint and determine the term of office of councillor or non-councillor members of such a committee (unless the appointment of non-councillors is prohibited by law) so as to hold office no later than the next Annual Meeting;
- it may in accordance with Standing Orders, dissolve a committee at any time.
- The Chairman and Vice Chairman of Council may elect to be a voting member of any committee or sub-committee other than the Staffing Committee.
15 Advisory Committees
See also Standing Order 2 above
The Council may appoint advisory committees comprised of a number of councillors and non-councillors; advisory committees may consist wholly of persons who are non-councillors.
16 Extraordinary meetings
See also Standing Order 2 above
- The Chair of the Council may convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council at any time.
- If the Chair 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, those 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.
- The Chair of a committee may convene an extraordinary meeting of the committee;
if the Chairman of a committee does not or refuses to call an extraordinary meeting within 3 days of having been requested by to do so by 3 councillors, those 3 councillors may convene an extraordinary meeting of a committee. The statutory public notice giving the time, venue and agenda for such a meeting must be signed by the 3 councillors.
17 Accounts and Financial Statement
- All payments by the Council shall be authorised, approved and paid in accordance with the Council’s Financial Regulations, which shall be reviewed at least annually.
- The Responsible Financial Officer shall supply to each councillor with the agenda of the Annual Parish Meeting a statement summarising the Council’s receipts and payments for the year and with the Agenda of the September Parish Council Meeting a statement summarising the Council’s receipts and payments for the half year. This statement should include a comparison with the budget for the Financial year. The Accounting Statements of the Council (which are subject to external audit), including the annual governance statement, shall be presented to Council for formal approval before 30 June.
18 Estimates / Precepts
- The Council shall approve written estimates for the coming Financial year according to the Council’s Financial Regulations;
- Any committee desiring to incur expenditure shall give the Proper Officer a written estimate of the expenditure in accordance to the Council’s Financial Regulations
19 Inspection of documents
Subject to Standing Orders to the contrary or in respect of matters which are confidential, a councillor may, for the purpose of his official duties, inspect any document in the possession of the Council or a committee and request a copy for the same purpose. The minutes of meetings of the Council and its committees shall be available for inspection by councillors.
20 Unauthorised activities
Unless authorised by a resolution, no individual councillor shall in the name or on behalf of the Council or a committee:
- inspect any land and/or premises which the Council has a right or duty to inspect;
- issue Orders, instructions or directions.
21 Confidential business
Councillors shall not disclose information given in confidence or which they believe, or ought to be aware is of a confidential nature; councillor in breach of the provisions of this Standing Order may be removed from a committee by a resolution of the Council.
22 Power of General Competence
- Before exercising the power of general 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 20a) above was made and has to be renewed by Council Resolution at 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 well-being which was not completed before the expiry of the Council’s preceding period of eligibility referred to in Standing Order 20b)
23 Matters affecting council employees
- 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 2c) It shall also consider whether other councillors shall be excluded to ensure proper process in any Appeal.
- Subject to the Council’s policy regarding absences from work, the Clerk shall notify the Chairman of any absence occasioned by illness or urgency and that person shall report such absence to the Council at its next meeting.
- The Chair of the Council or in his absence, the Vice-Chair shall upon a resolution conduct a review of the performance and/or appraisal of the Clerk and shall keep a written record of it. The review and/or appraisal shall be reported back and shall be subject to approval by resolution of the Council.
- Subject to the Council’s policy regarding the handling of grievance matters, the Council’s Clerk shall contact the Chair of the Council or in his absence, the Vice-Chair in respect of an informal or formal grievance matter, and this matter shall be reported back and progressed by resolution of the Council.
- 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.
- The Council shall keep written records relating to employees secure. All paper records shall be secured under lock and electronic records shall be password protected.
- Records documenting reasons for an employee’s absence due to ill health or details of a medical condition shall be made available only to those persons with responsibility for the same.
- Only the Chair and Vice-Chair shall have access to employee records.
- Access and means of access by keys and/or computer passwords to records of employment referred to in Standing Orders 21g) and 21h) above shall be provided only to the Chair of the Council or of the Staffing Committee.
24 Freedom of Information Act 2000
- All requests for information held by the Council shall be processed in accordance with the Council’s policy in respect of handling requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- Correspondence from, and notices served by, the Information Commissioner shall be referred by the Proper Officer to the Chairman of the Council. The said Council shall have the power to do anything to facilitate compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 including exercising the powers of the Proper Officer in respect of Freedom of Information requests set out under Standing Order 4b) ix)
25 Relations with the press/media
All requests from the press or other media for an oral or written statement or comment from the Council shall be processed in accordance with the Council’s policy in respect of dealing with the press and/or other media.
In accordance with the Council’s policy in respect to dealing with the press and/or other media, councillors shall not, in their official capacity, provide oral or written statements or written articles to the press or other media.
26 Liaison with District and County Councillors and Police Representatives
An invitation to attend a meeting of the Council shall be sent, together with the agenda, to the councillors of the District and County Council representing its electoral ward and Police Representatives for the Parish.
27 Financial matters
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 accounting records and systems of internal control; the assessment and management of Financial risks faced by the Council; the work of the Internal Auditor 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.
28 Allegations of breaches of the code of conduct
- On receipt of a notification that there has been an alleged breach of the code of conduct the Proper Officer shall notify the Chair of the Council.
- Where the notification relates to a complaint made by the Proper Officer, the Proper Officer shall notify the Chair of the Council of that fact, who, upon receipt of such notification, shall nominate a person to assume the duties of the Proper Officer set out in the remainder of this Standing Order, who shall continue to act in respect of that matter as such until the complaint is resolved.
- The subject matter of notifications shall be confidential and, insofar as it is possible to do so by law, the Council (including the Proper Officer and the Chair of the Council) shall take all steps considered necessary, to maintain confidentiality.
- References in this Standing Order to a notification shall be taken to refer to a communication of any kind which relates to a breach or an alleged breach of the code of conduct by a councillor.
29 Variation, revocation and suspension of Standing Orders
- Any or every part of the Standing Orders, except those which are mandatory by law, may be suspended by resolution in relation to any specific item of business.
- A motion to permanently add to or to vary or to revoke one or more of the Council’s Standing Orders not mandatory by law shall not be carried unless two-thirds of the councillors at a meeting of the Council vote in favour of the same.