Policy and procedures
Birch Parish Council has a number of established Policies & Procedures which include:
- Standing Orders
- Freedom of Information Act
- Data Protection Policy
- Filming, Audio-Recording, Photographing and Reporting of Council Meetings
- Complaints Procedure
- Financial Regulations
- Risk Assessment
- Grants Policy
The texts of the above Policies and Procedures are reproduced below on this page. Individual policies and procedures can be accessed quickly by using the links above. Immediately after each policy or procedure is a link back to the above Table of Contents.
Birch Parish Council
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
- Meetings of the Council in addition to the Statutory meetings (Standing Order 2) shall normally be held on the first Tuesday of the month excluding August. Each new meeting will be confirmed at the previous meeting.
- Meetings of the Council shall commence at 7.30 pm unless the Council otherwise decides at a previous meeting.
- Smoking is not permitted at any meeting of the Council.
2. The Statutory Annual Meeting
- In an election year shall be held on the second Tuesday following the ordinary elections to the Council and
- In a year which is not an election year shall be held at 7.30 pm prior to the monthly Parish meeting.
3. Committee Meetings
Committee meetings will be held as required and stipulated by each committee.
4. Chairman of the Meeting
The person presiding at a meeting may exercise all the powers and duties of the Chairman in relation to the conduct of the meeting.
5. Proper Officer
Where a statute, regulation or order confers function or duties on the proper officer of the Council in the following cases, he shall be the clerk or nominated officer:-
- To receive declarations of acceptance of office.
- To receive and record notices disclosing interests at meetings.
- To receive and retain plans and documents.
- To sign notices or other documents on behalf of the Council.
- To receive copies of bylaws made by another local authority.
- To certify copies of bylaws made by the Council.
- To sign and issue the summons to attend meetings of the Council.
- To keep proper records for all Council meetings.
6. Quorum of the Council
Three members shall constitute a quorum at meetings of the Council.
7. If a quorum is not present or if during a meeting the number of councillors present (not counting those debarred by reason of a declared interest) falls below the required quorum, the meeting shall be adjourned and business not transacted shall be transacted at the next meeting or on such other day as the Chairman may fix.
8. For a quorum relating to a committee or sub-committee, please refer to standing order 48.
Members shall vote by show of hands or, if at least two members so request, by signed ballot.
10. If a member so requires, the Clerk shall record the names of the members who voted on any question so as to show whether they voted for or against it. Such a request must be made before moving on to the next business.
11. (1) Subject to (2) and (3) below the Chairman may give an original vote on any matter put to the vote, and in any case of an equality of votes may give a casting vote whether or not he/she gave an original vote.
(2) If the person presiding at the annual meeting would have ceased to be a member of the council but for the statutory provisions which preserve the membership of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman until the end of their term of office he/she may not give an original vote in an election for Chairman.
(3) The person presiding must give a casting vote whenever there is an equality of votes in an election for Chairman.
12. Order of Business
At each Annual Parish Council Meeting the first business shall be:-
- To elect a Chairman of the Council
- To receive the Chairman's declaration of acceptance of office or, if not then received, to decide when it shall be received.
- In the ordinary year of election of the Council to fill any vacancies left unfilled at the election by reason of insufficient nominations.
- To decide when any declarations of acceptance of office and written undertakings to observe the code of conduct adopted by the council which have not been received as provided by law, shall be received.
- To elect a Vice-Chairman of the Council.
- To appoint representatives to outside bodies.
- To appoint committees and sub-committees.
- To consider the payment of any subscriptions falling to be paid annually.
- To inspect any deeds and trust investments in the custody of the Council as required; and shall thereafter follow the order set out in the Standing Order 15.
13. At every meeting other than the Annual Parish Council Meeting the first business shall be to appoint a Chairman if the Chairman and Vice-Chairman be absent and to receive such declarations of acceptance of office (if any) and undertaking to observe the Council's code of conduct as are required by law to be made or, if not then received, to decide when they shall be received.
14. In every year, not later than the meeting at which the estimates for next year are settled, the Council shall review the pay and conditions of service of existing employees. Standing Order 38 must be read in conjunction with this requirement.
15. After the first business has been completed, the order of business, unless the Council otherwise decides on the ground of urgency as dictated by the agenda, and/or as follows:-
- To read and consider the Minutes; provided that if a copy has been circulated to each Member not later than the day of issue of the summons to attend the meeting, the Minutes may be taken as read.
- After consideration to approve the signature of the Minutes by the person presiding as a correct record.
- To deal with business expressly required by statute to be done.
- To dispose of business, if any, remaining from the last meeting.
- To receive such communications as the person presiding may wish to lay before the Council.
- To answer questions from Councillors.
- To receive and consider reports and minutes of committees.
- To receive and consider resolutions or recommendations in the order in which they have been notified.
- To authorise the sealing of documents.
- If necessary, to authorise the signing of orders for payment.
16. Urgent Business
A motion to vary the order of business on the ground of urgency:
- May be proposed by the Chairman or by any member and, if proposed by the Chairman, may be put to the vote without being seconded, and
- Shall be put to the vote without discussion.
17. Resolutions Moved On Notice
Except as provided by these Standing Orders, no resolution may be moved unless the business to which it relates has been put on the Agenda by the Clerk or the mover has given notice in writing of its terms and has delivered the notice to the Clerk at least seven clear days before the next meeting of the Council.
18. The Clerk shall date every notice of resolution or recommendation when received, 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.
19. The Clerk shall insert in the summons for every meeting all notices of motion or recommendation properly given in the order in which they have been received unless the member giving a notice of motion has stated in writing that he intends to move at some later meeting or that he withdraws it.
20. If a resolution or recommendation specified in the summons is not moved either by the member who gave notice of it or by any other member, it shall, unless postponed by the Council, be treated as withdrawn and shall not be moved without fresh notice.
21. If the subject matter of a resolution 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 Chairman, if he considers it to be a matter of urgency, may allow it to be dealt with at the meeting at which it was moved.
22. Every resolution or recommendation shall be relevant to some subject over which the Council has power or duties which affects its area.
23. Resolutions Moved Without Notice
Resolutions dealing with the following matters may be moved without notice:-
- To appoint a Chairman of the meeting.
- To correct the Minutes.
- To approve the Minutes.
- To alter the order of business.
- To proceed to the next business.
- To close or adjourn the debate.
- To refer a matter to a committee.
- To appoint a committee or any members thereof.
- To adopt a report.
- To authorise the sealing of documents.
- To amend a motion.
- To give leave to withdraw a resolution or amendment.
- To extend the time limit for speeches.
- To exclude the press and public. (see Order 67 below)
- To silence or eject from the meeting a member named for misconduct. (see order 33 below)
- To give the consent of the Council where such consent is required by these Standing Orders.
- To suspend any Standing Order. (see Order 78 below)
- To adjourn the meeting.
A member may ask the Chairman of the Council or the Clerk any question concerning the business of the Council, provided 3 clear days notice of the question has been given to the person to whom it is addressed.
25. No questions not connected with business under discussion shall be asked except during the part of the meeting set aside for questions.
26. Every question shall be put and answered without discussion.
27. A person to whom a question has been put may decline to answer.
28. Rules of Debate
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 Chairman.
- A resolution 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 Chairman, be reduced to writing and handed to him before it is further discussed or put to the meeting.
- A member when seconding a resolution or amendment may, if he then declares his intention to do so, reserve his speech until a later period of the debate.
- A member shall direct his speech to the question under discussion or to a personal explanation or to a question of order.
- No speech by a mover of a resolution shall exceed five minutes and no other speech shall exceed five minutes except by consent of the Council.
- An amendment shall be either:-
- To leave out words.
- To leave out words and insert others.
- To insert or add words.
- An amendment shall not have the effect of negating the resolution before the Council.
- If an amendment be carried, the resolution, as amended, shall take the place of the original resolution and shall become the resolution upon which any further amendment may be moved.
- A further amendment shall not be moved until the Council has disposed of every amendment previously moved.
- The mover of a resolution or of an amendment shall have aright of reply, not exceeding five minutes.
- A member, other than the mover of a resolution, shall not, without leave of the Council, speak more than once on any resolution except to move an amendment or further amendment, or on an amendment, or on a point of order, or in personal explanation, or to move a closure.
- A member may speak on a point of order or a personal explanation. A member speaking for these purposes shall be heard forthwith. A personal explanation shall be confined to some material part of a former speech by him which may have been misunderstood.
- A motion or amendment may be withdrawn by the proposer with the 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.
- When a resolution is under debate no other resolution shall be moved except the following:-
- To amend the resolution.
- To proceed to the next business.
- To adjourn the debate.
- That the question be now put.
- That a member named shall not be further heard.
- That a member named does leave the meeting.
- That the resolution be referred to a committee.
- To exclude the public and press.
- To adjourn the meeting.
30. A member shall remain seated when speaking unless requested to stand by the Chairman.
- The ruling of the Chairman on a point of order or on the admissibility of a personal explanation shall not be discussed.
- Members shall address the Chairman. If two or more members wish to speak, the Chairman shall decide who to call upon.
- Whenever the Chairman speaks during a debate all other members shall be silent.
At the end of any speech a member may, without comment, move "that the question be now put", "that the debate be now adjourned" or "that the Council do now adjourn". If such motion is seconded, the Chairman shall put the motion but, in the case of a motion "that the question be now put", only if he is of the opinion that the question before the Council has been sufficiently debated. If the motion "that the question be now put" is carried, he shall call upon the mover to exercise or waive his 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.
33. Disorderly Conduct
- All members must observe the Standard Code of Conduct which was adopted by the council - a copy of which is annexed to these Standing Orders.
- No member shall at a meeting persistently disregard the ruling of the Chairman, wilfully obstruct business, or behave irregularly, offensively, improperly or in such a manner as to bring the Council into disrepute.
- If, in the opinion of the Chairman, a member has acted in a manner contrary to that required, the 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 do leave the meeting, and the motion, if seconded, shall be put forthwith and without discussion. If a member reasonably believes another member is in breach of the code of conduct, that member is under a duty to report the breach to the Standards Board (England).
- If the motion mentioned in paragraph (c) is disobeyed, the Chairman may adjourn the meeting or take such further steps as may reasonably be necessary to enforce them.
34. Right of Reply
The mover of a resolution shall have a right to reply immediately before the resolution 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 a new matter. After the right of reply has been exercised or waived, a vote shall be taken without further discussion.
35. Alteration of Resolution.
A member may, with the consent of his seconder, move amendments to his own resolution.
36. Rescission of Previous Resolution.
- A decision (whether affirmative or negative) of the Council shall not be reversed within six months except either by a special resolution, the written notice whereof bears the names of at least four members of the Council, or by a resolution moved in pursuance of the report or recommendation of a committee.
- When a special resolution or any other resolution moved under the provisions of paragraph (a) of this Order has been disposed of, no similar resolution may be moved within a further six months.
37. Voting On Appointments
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.
38. Discussions and Resolutions Affecting Employees of the Council
If at a meeting there arises any question relating to the appointment, conduct, promotion, dismissal, salary or conditions of service, of any person employed by the Council, it shall not be considered until the Council or committee (as the case may be) has decided whether or not the press and public shall be excluded. (See Standing Order No.67.)
39. Resolutions on Expenditure
Any resolution which is moved otherwise than in pursuance of a recommendation of the RFO or of another committee after recommendation by the Finance Committee and which, if carried, would, in the opinion of the Chairman substantially increase the expenditure upon any service which is under the management of the Council or reduce the revenue at the disposal of any committee, or which would involve capital expenditure, shall, when proposed and seconded, stand adjourned without discussion to the next ordinary meeting of the Council, and any committee affected by it shall consider whether it desires to report thereon and the RFO shall report on the financial aspect of the matters.
Orders for the payment of money shall be authorised by resolution of the Council and signed by two members.
41. Sealing of Documents
- A document shall not be sealed on behalf of the Council unless its sealing has been authorised by a resolution.
- Any two members or one member and the RFO of the Council named in a resolution moved under the provisions of paragraph (a) of this Order may seal, on behalf of the Council, any document required by law to be issued under seal.
42. Committees and Sub Committees
The Council may at its Annual Meeting appoint standing committees and may at any other time appoint such other committees as are necessary.
- For reasons of continuity - these appointments shall last for the period of office until the next election of a Parish Council and shall be confirmed at each Annual Meeting.
- May appoint persons other than members of the Council to any Committee; and
- May subject to the provisions of Order 36 above at any time dissolve or alter the membership of any committee.
43. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman ex-officio shall be voting members of every committee.
44. 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, and shall settle its programme of meetings for the year.
45. Special Meeting
The Chairman of a committee or the Chairman of the Council may summon an additional meeting of that committee at any time. An additional meeting shall also be summoned on the requisition in writing of not less than a half 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.
Every committee may appoint sub-committees for purposes to be specified by the committee.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. The Standing Orders on rules of debate (except those parts relating to standing and to speaking more than once) and the Standing Order on interests of members in contracts and other matters shall apply to committee and sub-committee meetings.
50. Advisory Committees
1) The Council may create advisory committees, whose name, and number of members and the bodies to be invited to nominate members shall be specified.
2) The Clerk shall inform the members of each advisory committee of the terms of reference of the committee.
3) An advisory committee may make recommendations and give notice thereof to the Council.
4) An advisory committee may consist wholly of persons who are not members of the Council.
51. Voting in Committees
Members of committees and sub-committees entitled to vote, shall vote by show of hands, or, if at least two members so request, by signed ballot.
52. Chairmen of committees and sub-committees shall in the case of an equality of votes have a second or casting vote.
53. Presence of Non-Members of Committees at Committee Meetings
A member who has proposed a resolution which has been referred to any committee of which he is not a member, may explain his resolution to the committee but shall not vote.
54. Accounts and Financial Statement
1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this Standing Order or by statute, all accounts for payment and claims upon the Council shall be laid before the Council.
2) Where it is necessary to make a payment before it has been authorised by the Council, such payment shall be certified as to its correctness and urgency by the Responsible Financial Officer or the clerk if different. Such payment shall be authorised by the committee, if any, having charge of the business to which it relates, or by the proper officer for payment with the approval of the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Council.
3) All payments ratified under sub-paragraph (2} of this Standing Order shall be separately included in the next schedule of payments before the Council.
55. The Responsible Financial Officer shall supply to each member as soon as practicable after 31 March in each year a statement of the receipts and payments of the Council for the completed financial year. A Financial Statement prepared on the appropriate accounting basis (receipts and payments, or income and expenditure} for a year to 31 March shall be presented to each member before the end of the following month of May. The Statement of Accounts of the Council (which is subject to external audit) shall be presented to Council for formal approval before the end of the following month of September.
56. Estimates / Precepts
1) The council shall approve written estimates for the coming financial year at its meeting before the end of the month of January.
2) Any committee desiring to incur expenditure shall give the Clerk a written estimate of the expenditure recommended for the coming year no later than 31st December.
If a member has a personal interest as defined by the Standing Code of Conduct adopted by the Council then he/she shall declare such interest as soon as it becomes apparent, disclosing the existence and nature of that interest as required.
58. If a member who has declared a personal interest then considers the interest to be prejudicial, he/she must withdraw from the room or chamber during consideration of the item to which the interest relates.
59. The Clerk is required to compile and hold a Register of Member's Interests, or a copy thereof, in accordance with agreement reached with the Monitoring Officer of the Responsible Authority and/or as required by statute.
60. If a candidate for any appointment under the Council is to his 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 Clerk. A candidate who fails so to do shall be disqualified for such appointment, and, if appointed, may be dismissed without notice. The Clerk shall report to the Council or to the appropriate committee any such disclosure. Where relationship to a member is disclosed Standing Orders 57, 58 and 59 shall apply as appropriate.
61. The Clerk shall make known the purpose of this Standing Order to every candidate.
62. Canvassing of and Recommendations by Members
1) Canvassing of members of the Council or of any committee, directly or indirectly, for any appointment under the Council shall disqualify the candidate for such appointment. The Clerk shall make known the purpose of this sub-paragraph of this Standing Order to every candidate.
2) A member of the Council or of any committee shall not solicit for any person any appointment under the Council or recommend any person for such appointment or for promotion; but, nevertheless, any such member may give a written testimonial of a candidate's ability, experience or character for submission to the Council with an application for appointment.
63. Standing Order Nos. 60 & 62 shall apply to tenders as if the person making the tender were a candidate for an appointment.
64. Inspection of Documents
A member may for the purpose of his duty as such (but not otherwise), inspect any document in possession of the Council, a committee, and if copies are available shall, on request, be supplied for the like purpose with a copy.
65. All minutes kept by the Council and by any committee shall be open for the inspection of any member of the Council.
66. Unauthorised Activities
No member of the Council or of any committee or sub-committee shall in the name of or on behalf of the Council:-
- Inspect any lands or premises which the Council has a right or duty to inspect; or
- Issue orders, instructions or directions unless authorised to do so by the Council, the relevant committee or sub-committee.
67. Admission of the Public and Press to Meetings
The public and press shall be admitted to all meetings of the Council and its committees and sub-committees, which may, however, temporarily exclude the public and press by means of the following resolutions:-
"That in view of the [special] [confidential] nature of the business about to be transacted, it is advisable in the public interest that the press and public be temporarily excluded and they are instructed to withdraw"
68. The Council, committee or sub-committee shall state the special reason for exclusion.
69. At all meetings of the Council, the Chairman may at his discretion and at a convenient time in the transaction of business, adjourn the meeting so as to allow any members of the public to address the meeting in relation to the business to be transacted at that meeting.
70. The Clerk shall afford to the press reasonable facilities for the taking of their report of any proceedings at which they are entitled to be present. There shall be no audio or video recording or photographs of the meeting without the express approval of the Council.
71. If a member of the public interrupts the proceedings at any meeting, the Chairman may, after warning, order that he be removed from the meeting and may adjourn the meeting for such period as is necessary to restore order.
72. Confidential Business
1) No member of the Council or of any committee or sub-committee shall disclose to any person not a member of the Council any business declared to be confidential by the Council, the committee or the sub-committee as the case may be.
2) Any member in breach of the provisions of paragraph (1) of this Standing Order shall be removed from any committee or sub-committee of the Council by the Council.
73. Liaison with County and District Councillors
A Summons and Agenda for each meeting shall be sent, together with an invitation to attend, to the County, Borough, Unitary or District Councillor(s) for the appropriate division or ward. At ordinary meetings of the Council and where the business is relevant to the authorities on which they serve, they may, at the invitation of the Chairman, speak without Standing Orders being suspended.
74. Unless the Council otherwise orders, a copy of each letter ordered to be sent to the County or District Council shall be transmitted to the County Councillor(s) for the division or to the District Councillor(s) for the ward as the case may require.
75. Planning Applications
1) The Clerk shall, as soon as it is received, enter in a book kept for the purpose the following particulars of every planning application notified to the Council:-
- the date on which it was received
- the name of the applicant
- the place to which it relates;
- the Clerk shall notify the receipt of every planning application to the Chairman / Chairman of the Planning Committee or in the Chairman's absence to the Vice-Chairman within 48 hours of receipt.
76. Financial Matters
The Council shall consider and approve Financial Regulations drawn up by the Responsible Financial Officer.
1) Such Regulations shall include detailed arrangements for the following:
- the accounting records and systems of internal control;
- the assessment and management of risks faced by the Council;
- the work of the Internal Auditor and the receipt of regular reports from the Internal Auditor this shall be required at least annually
- the financial reporting requirements of members and local electors and
- procurement policies (subject to (2) below) including the setting of values for different procedures where the contract has an estimated value less than £500.
2) Any proposed contract for the supply of goods, materials, services and the execution of works with an estimated value in excess of £750 shall be procured on the basis of a formal tender as summarised in (3) below.
3) Any formal tender process shall comprise the following steps:
- a specification of the goods, materials, services and the execution of works shall be drawn up;
- tenders are to be sent, in a sealed marked envelope, to the Clerk by a stated date and time;
- tenders submitted are to be opened, after the stated closing date and time, by the Clerk and at least one member of Council;
- tenders are then to be assessed and reported to the appropriate meeting of Council or Committee.
4) The Council, or any committee, is not bound to accept the lowest tender, estimate or quote. Any tender notice shall contain a reference to the Standing orders 60, 62 & 63 regarding Improper activity.
5) The Financial Regulations of the Council shall be subject to regular review, at least once every four years.
(Council is reminded that the European Union Public Sector Procurement Rules are likely to apply to contracts with a value in excess of £140,000 and advice should be sought at this level)
(Note: Some Standing Order must be made for contracts for the supply of goods or the execution of works)
77. Code of Conduct on Complaints
The Council shall deal with complaints of maladministration allegedly committed by the Council or by any officer or member in such manner as adopted by the Council except for those complaints which should be properly directed to the Standards Board (England) for consideration.
78. Variation. Revocation and Suspension of Standing Orders
Any or every part of the Standing Orders except those under-lined may be suspended by resolution in relation to any specific item of business, providing they do not infringe on any legal requirements.
79. A resolution permanently to add, vary or revoke a Standing Order shall when proposed and seconded, stand adjourned without discussion to the next ordinary meeting of the Council.
80. Standing Orders to be Given to Members
A copy of these Standing Orders shall be given to each member by the Clerk upon delivery to him of the member's declaration of acceptance of office and written undertaking to observe the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council.
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Freedom of Information Act
Birch Parish Council
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT - PUBLICATION SCHEME
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
This publication scheme has been prepared by Birch Parish Council to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information mentioned below, where this information is held by the Parish Council.
This scheme commits Birch Parish Council:
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information, including environmental information, which is held by the Parish Council and falls within the classifications below.
- To specify the information which is held by the Parish Council and falls within the classifications below.
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information in line with the statements contained within this scheme.
- To produce and publish the methods by which the specific information is made routinely available so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public.
- To review and update on a regular basis the information the authority makes available under this scheme.
- To produce a schedule of any fees charged for access to information which is made proactively available.
- To make this publication scheme available to the public.
Key to format abbreviations in the table below:
W = Website, E = Email, P = Paper, I = Inspection, N/A = Not Applicable.
|Classes of Information||Format|
|Who we are and what we do
Organisational information, structures, locations and contacts
|What we spend and how we spend it
Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts
|What our priorities are and how we are doing
Strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews
|How we make decisions
Policy proposals and decisions. Decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations
|Our policies and procedures
Current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities
|Lists and Registers
Information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the function of the Parish Council
|The services we offer
Information about the services we offer, advice and guidance, leaflets and newsletters. Details of the services offered
The classes of information will not generally include:
- Information the disclosure of which is prevented by law, or exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, or is otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure.
- Information in draft form.
- Information that is no longer readily available as it is contained in files that have been placed in archive storage, or is difficult to access for similar reasons.
Methods by which information published under this scheme will be made available
- Where it is within our capability, information will be published on our website.
- Where it is impracticable to make information available on our website, or if an individual does not wish to access the information by the website, hard copies can be requested at a mutually convenient time and location within a reasonable timescale.
Information will be provided in the language in which it is held or in such other language that is legally required. Where the Parish Council is legally required to translate any information, it will do so.
Obligations under disability and discrimination legislation and any other legislation to provide information in other forms and formats will be adhered to when providing information in accordance with this scheme.
Charges which may be made for information published under this scheme
The purpose of the scheme is to make the maximum amount of information readily available at minimum inconvenience and cost to the public. Charges made by the Parish Council for routinely published material will be justified and transparent and kept to a minimum.
Material which is published and accessed on a website will be provided free of charge.
Charges may be made for information subject to a charging regime specific by Parliament.
Charges may be made for actual disbursements incurred such as:
- Postage and packing
- The costs directly incurred as a result of viewing information
Charges may also be made for information provided under this scheme where they are legally authorised, they are in all the circumstances, including the general principles of the right of access to information held by public authorities, justified and are in accordance with a published schedule or schedules of fees which is readily available to the public.
If a charge is to be made, confirmation of the payment due will be given before the information is provided. Payment may be requested prior to provision of the information.
Information held by the Council that is not published under this scheme can be requested in writing, when its provision will be considered in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
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Data Protection Policy
Birch Parish Council
DATA PROTECTION POLICY
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
The Data Protection Act 1998 established a framework of rights and duties which safeguard personal data. Personal data is information about a living individual who can be identified from the data (including photographs). This framework balances the legitimate needs of organisations to collect and use personal data for business and other purposes against the right of individuals to respect for the privacy of their personal details.
Birch Parish Council is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals and handles all personal data in a manner that complies with the Data Protection Act 1998. The Council has established the following policy to support this commitment. It is the personal responsibility of all employees, Members, contractors, agents and anyone else processing information on behalf of the Parish Council to comply with this policy. This policy continues to apply to employees and individuals even after their relationship with the Council ends.
Any deliberate breach of this policy could amount to a criminal offence under one or more pieces of legislation. All incidents will be investigated and action may be taken by the Council's formal disciplinary procedure. A serious breach of this policy could be regarded as gross misconduct and may lead to dismissal and/or criminal action being taken.
2. Data Protection Principles
The Data Protection Act 1998 is underpinned by a set of eight common-sense principles, which must be adhered to whenever personal data is processed. Processing includes obtaining, recording, using, holding, disclosing and deleting personal data.
Personal data must be:
- processed fairly and lawfully;
- processed for specified and lawful purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date;
- not kept longer than is necessary;
- processed in accordance with the rights of the data subject;
- kept secure;
- transferred only to countries with adequate security.
3. Access and Use of Personal Data
Access and use of personal data held by the Council is only permitted by employees, Members, contractors, agents and anyone else processing information on behalf of the Parish Council for the purpose of carrying out their official duties. Use for any other purpose is prohibited.
Deliberate unauthorised access to, copying, disclosure, destruction or alteration of or interference with any computer equipment or data is strictly forbidden and may constitute a criminal offence and/or disciplinary offence.
It is an offence under Section 55(1) of the Data Protection Act for any person to knowingly or recklessly obtain, procure or disclose personal data without the permission of the data controller (Birch Parish Council) subject to certain exceptions.
It is also an offence for someone to sell or offer to sell personal data which has been obtained in contravention of Section 55(1).
4. Collecting Personal Data
When personal data is collected, for example on a questionnaire, survey or form, the data subject (that is to say the person who the information is about) must be told, unless this is obvious to them, which organization(s) they are giving their information to; what their information will be used for; who it may be shared with and anything else that might be relevant e.g. the consequences of that use. This is known as a Privacy Notice.
Personal data collected must be adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose of the collection. A person's name and other identifying information should not be collected where depersonalized (anonymous) information would suffice.
If the information is collected for one purpose, it cannot subsequently be used for a different and unconnected purpose without the data subject's consent (unless there is another lawful basis for using the information - see section 5 below). It must be made clear to the data subject at the time the information is collected what other purposes their information may be used for.
5. Lawful Basis for Processing
When Birch Parish Council processes personal data, it must have a lawful basis for doing so. The Data Protection Act 1998 provides a list of "conditions" when personal or sensitive personal data may be processed (Schedule 2 and 3 of the Act).
The Data Protection Act 1998 defines "sensitive" personal data as information relating to a person's racial or ethnic origin; political opinion; religious or other beliefs; trade union membership; physical or mental health condition; sexual life; criminal offences (alleged or committed).
Whenever the Parish Council processes persona data it must be able to satisfy at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 of the Act and when it processes sensitive personal data it must be able to satisfy at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 of the Act.
The Parish Council can also process personal data if it has the data subject's consent (this needs to be explicit when it processes sensitive personal data). In order for consent to be valid it must be "fully informed" which means the person giving consent must understand what they are consenting to and what the consequences are if they give or refuse consent. Consent must not be obtained through coercion or under duress.
6. Disclosing Personal Data
Personal data must not be disclosed to anyone internally or externally unless the person disclosing the information is fully satisfied that the enquirer or recipient is authorized in all respects and is legally entitled to the information.
If personal data is disclosed to another organization or person outside of the Parish Council, the disclosing person must identify their lawful basis for the disclosure and record their decision. This should include a description of the information disclosed; the name of the person and organisation to which the information was disclosed; the date; the reason for the disclosure; the lawful basis.
In response to any lawful request, only the minimum amount of personal information should be disclosed. The person disclosing the information should ensure that the information is adequate for the purpose of the disclosure, relevant and not excessive.
7. Accuracy and Relevance
It is the responsibility of those who receive personal information to ensure so far as possible that it is accurate and up to date. Personal information should be checked at regular intervals to ensure that it is still accurate. If the information is found to be inaccurate, steps must be taken to rectify it. Individuals who input or update information must also ensure that it is adequate, relevant, unambiguous and professionally worded. Data subjects have a right to access personal data held about them and have inaccuracies corrected. More information about a data subject's rights can be found in Section 9 below.
8. Retention and disposal of Data
The Data Protection Act 1998 required that the Parish Council does not keep personal data for any longer than is necessary. Personal data should be checked at regular intervals and deleted or destroyed when it is no longer needed, provided there is no legal or other reason for holding it.
The Parish Council's Record Management Policy must be checked before records are disposed of to see whether there is a prescribed retention period for that type of record.
9. Individual Rights
Individuals have several rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. These include the right to access personal data held about them (Subject Access); the right to prevent their information being used in a way which is likely to cause damage or distress; the right to compensation for any damages as a result of their information not being handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998; and the right to have inaccurate or misleading information held about them corrected or destroyed. A person wishing to exercise any of these rights must be given the Parish Clerk's contact details.
It is particularly important that if a person had made a Subject Access request, this is forwarded to the Parish Clerk as soon as possible. The Parish Council has 40 calendar days in which to respond to a Subject Access request, provided the applicant has put their request in writing and suitable identification has been supplied.
10. Reporting Security Incidents
Birch Parish Council has a responsibility to monitor all incidents that occur within the organization that may breach the security and/or confidentiality of its information. All incidents need to be identified, reported, investigated and monitored. It is only by adopting this approach that the Council can learn from its mistakes and prevent losses re-occurring.
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Filming, Audio-Recording, Photographing and Reporting of Council Meetings
POLICY ON FILMING, AUDIO-RECORDING, PHOTOGRAPHING
AND REPORTING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
1. The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 (2014 SI No. 2095), which came into force on 6 August 2014, require parish councils to allow any person to film, audio-record or take photographs of, and to report on, the proceedings of any part of a meeting which the public are entitled to attend by law. (The Regulations also contain provision requiring a written record to be kept of certain decisions made by officers; the Parish Council has a separate policy on this.)
2. The Regulations do not require parish councils to allow filming and recording of any part of a meeting where the public are excluded by reason of the confidential nature of the business or where publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest. Exclusion of the public must be authorized by a resolution of the meeting and the reason for exclusion must be stated.
3. The Regulations apply only to formal, decision-making meetings of the Council, a committee or a sub-committee and not to informal meetings or meetings of a working party without decision-making powers.
4. The Department for Communities and Local Government has published a 'plain English' guide to the Regulations (available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-and-accountable-local-government-plain-english-guide Birch Parish Council's policy is based on this guide.
5. The Parish Council has no objection to quiet and inconspicuous filming, photography, tweeting and blogging using a hand-held device such as a mobile phone or tablet. Oral commentary in the meeting room during a meeting is not permitted by the Regulations and may be disruptive.
6. The Parish Council asks anyone proposing to use a device larger than a mobile phone or tablet to notify the Clerk prior to the start of the meeting so that proper facilities can if possible be provided.
7. The Regulations apply to councillors as they do to members of the public but councillors will wish to ensure that they are not distracted from the business of the meeting.
8. Members of the public who attend a meeting merely to observe it are not taking part in the proceedings and the Parish Council asks others not to film or photograph them without their consent. Children or vulnerable adults attending a meeting should not be filmed or photographed.
9. Anyone acting in a disruptive manner may be asked by the Chair to stop doing so and if they continue they may be asked to leave the meeting. The DCLG guide gives the following examples of disruptive activity:
- moving to areas outside the areas designated for the public without the consent of the Chair;
- excessive noise in recording or setting up or re-siting equipment during the meeting;
- intrusive lighting and use of flash photography;
- asking people to repeat statements for the purposes of recording.
10. Recording equipment may be left running in the meeting room even if the person using it leaves the room. However it may not be left running for a part of a meeting where the public are excluded and an officer of the Council may stop the recording or switch off the equipment if this happens.
11. Those filming and recording, meetings are reminded that requirements of general law apply to their activities, for example:
- the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 may apply to personal information about living individuals including visual images;
- there may be legal liability for defamatory or offensive statements, including statements made by people being filmed that are 'published' by the person filming.
12. The Parish Council cannot advise on general law and accepts no liability for any material created by those filming, &c, a meeting.
13. The Parish Council will review this policy after twelve months.
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PROCEDURE FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS
that anyone may have about Birch Parish Council's administration and procedures.
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
1. Complaints should be submitted in writing to the Clerk and must include the following:
- The nature of the complaint in detail.
- The subject of the complaint e.g. Member, Clerk etc.
- The action required,
2. In all cases the Clerk will send a copy of the complaint to the Chairman (or the Vice Chairman if the complaint is against the Chairman).
3. The Chairman (or Vice Chairman if the complaint is against the Chairman) in consultation with the Clerk will contact the parties concerned in an effort to reach an amicable solution to the complaint.
4. A copy of the written complaint will be circulated by the Clerk to all members of the Council and to the subject of the complaint.
5. If an amicable solution cannot be reached by the above means a meeting of the Full Council will be convened as soon as is reasonable practicable.
6. A meeting of the Council will take place on a date and time and place to be determined by the Chairman in consultation with the Clerk. The quorum for a meeting will be three members providing that none of the three are subject to complaint.
7. If possible the complaint will be dealt with by way of consideration of written representations. If this is not possible both parties to the complaint will be invited to attend in person and they may be accompanied by an advisor/representative.
8. Where the complaint is heard in person rather than by written representations, the following procedures will apply:
- The Chairman will invite the complainant to state in full the details of the complaint.
- The subject of the complaint will be invited to question the complainant.
- The members of the Council will be allowed to question the complainant.
- The subject will be invited to answer the complaint.
- The complainant will be invited to question the subject.
- The members of the Council will be allowed to question the subject.
- The complainant will sum up.
- The subject of the complaint will sum up.
- The subject and the complainant will withdraw
- The Council will consider the evidence and come to a decision in respect of the complaint. Where the complaint is upheld in full or in part the Council will recommend a remedy to the complaint.
- The complainant and the subject of the complaint will be invited back into the meeting and advised of the decision.
9. The Council shall have full details of any complaint and the manner in which it has been dealt with via the Clerk for report at the next full meeting of the Parish Council.
10. The Council shall at its absolute discretion deal with any matters not specifically covered by the procedure but relevant to its role.
11. If the complaint is against a member of the Council, the Council may defer dealing with the complaint to the Borough Council's Standards Committee.
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(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
1.1 These financial regulations govern the conduct of financial management by the Council and may only be amended or varied by resolution of the Council. The Council is responsible in law for ensuring that its financial management is adequate and effective and that the Council has a sound system of financial control which facilitates the effective exercise of the Council's functions, including arrangements for the management of risk and for the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption. These financial regulations are designed to demonstrate how the Council meets these responsibilities.
1.2 The Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) is a statutory office and shall be appointed by the Council. The Clerk has been appointed as RFO for this Council and these regulations will apply accordingly. The RFO, acting under the policy direction of the Council, shall administer the Council's financial affairs in accordance with proper practices. The RFO shall determine on behalf of the Council its accounting records, and accounting control systems. The RFO shall ensure that the accounting control systems are observed and that the accounting records of the Council are maintained and kept up to date in accordance with proper practices.
1.3 The RFO shall produce financial management information as required by the Council on all financial matters.
1.4 At least once a year, prior to approving the Annual Return, the Council shall conduct a review of the effectiveness of its system of internal control which shall be in accordance with proper practices.
1.5 In these Financial Regulations, references to the Accounts and Audit Regulations shall mean the Regulations issued under the provisions of section 27 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 and then in force.
1.6 In these financial regulations the term 'proper practice' or 'proper practices' shall refer to guidance issued in Governance and Accountability in local Councils in England and Wales - a Practitioners' Guide which is published jointly by NALC and SLCC and updated from time to time.
2. ANNUAL ESTIMATES (BUDGET)
2.1 The Council shall formulate and submit proposals to the RFO in respect of revenue and capital including the use of reserves and sources of funding for the following financial year not later than the meeting of the Council in December each year.
2.2 Detailed estimates of all receipts and payments including the use of reserves and all sources of funding for the year shall be prepared each year by the RFO in the form of a budget to be considered by the Chair Person and recommended to the Council.
2.3 The Council shall agree the budget not later than the end of December each year and shall fix the Precept to be levied for the ensuing financial year. The RFO shall issue the precept to the billing authority and shall supply each member with a copy of the approved budget.
2.4 The annual budgets shall form the basis of financial control for the ensuing year.
2.5 The Council shall consider the need for and shall have regard to a three year forecast of Revenue and Capital Receipts and Payments which may be prepared at the same time as the annual Budget.
3. BUDGETARY CONTROL
3.1 Expenditure on revenue items may be incurred up to the amounts included for that class of expenditure in the approved budget.
3.2 No expenditure may be incurred that will exceed the amount provided in the revenue budget for that class of expenditure. During the budget year and with the approval of Council based on a recommendation by the RFO having considered fully the implications for public services, unspent and available amounts may be moved to other budget headings or to an earmarked reserve as appropriate.
3.3 The RFO shall regularly provide the Council with a statement of receipts and payments to date under each head of the budgets, comparing actual expenditure to the appropriate date against that planned as shown in the budget. These statements are to be prepared at least at the end of each financial quarter.
3.4 The RFO may incur expenditure on behalf of the Council, with approval of two signatories, which is necessary to carry out any repair, replacement or other work which is of such extreme urgency that it must be done at once, whether or not there is any budgetary provision for the expenditure, subject to a limit of £500. The RFO shall report the action to the Council as soon as practicable thereafter.
3.5 Any expenditure over £500 to be agreed by the council at the next available meeting, represented by a quorum of councillors.
3.6 Unspent provisions in the revenue budget shall not be carried forward to a subsequent year unless placed in an earmarked reserve by resolution of the Council based on a recommendation from the RFO.
3.7 No expenditure shall be incurred in relation to any capital project and no contract entered into or tender accepted involving capital expenditure unless the Council is satisfied that the necessary funds are available, or the requisite borrowing approval has been obtained.
3.8 All capital works shall be administered in accordance with the Council's Standing Orders and Financial Regulations relating to contracts.
4. ACCOUNTING AND AUDIT
4.1 All accounting procedures and financial records of the Council shall be determined by the RFO in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.2 The RFO shall complete the annual financial statements of the Council, including the Council's Annual Return, as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year and shall submit them to the Council and report thereon to the Council following the independent internal audit.
4.3 The RFO shall complete the Accounts of the Council contained in the Annual Return (as supplied by the Auditor appointed from time to time by the Audit Commission) and shall submit the Annual Return for approval by the Finance Committee and authorisation by the Council within the timescales set by the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.4 The RFO shall ensure that there is adequate and effective system of internal audit of the Council's accounting, financial and other operations in accordance with proper practices. Any officer or member of the Council shall, if the RFO or Internal Auditor requires, make available such documents of the Council which appear to the RFO or Internal Auditor to be necessary for the purpose of the internal audit and shall supply the RFO or Internal Auditor with such information and explanation as the RFO or Internal Auditor considers necessary for that purpose.
4.5 The Internal Auditor shall be appointed by and shall carry out the work required by the Council in accordance with proper practices. The Internal Auditor, who shall be competent and independent of the operations of the Council, shall report to Council in writing, or in person, on a regular basis with a minimum of one annual written report in respect of each financial year. In order to demonstrate objectivity and independence, the internal auditor shall be free from any conflicts of interest and have no involvement in the financial decision making, management or control of the Council.
4.6 The RFO shall make arrangements for the opportunity for inspection of the accounts, books, and vouchers and for the display or publication of any Notices and statements of account required by Audit Commission Act 1998 and the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.7 The RFO shall, as soon as practicable, bring to the attention of all councillors any correspondence or report from the Internal or External Auditor, unless the correspondence is of a purely administrative matter. Annual Risk Assessment will be reviewed following the internal audit.
5. BANKING ARRANGEMENTS AND CHEQUES
5.1 The Council's banking arrangements, including the Bank Mandate, shall be made by the RFO and approved by the Council. They shall be regularly reviewed for efficiency.
5.2 A schedule of the payments and receipts required, forming part of the Agenda for the Meeting shall be prepared by the RFO and, together with the relevant invoices, be presented to the Council. If the schedule is in order it shall be authorised by a resolution of the Council and shall be initialled by the Chairman of the Meeting. If more appropriate the detail may be shown in the Minutes of the Meeting.
5.3 Cheques drawn on the Parish bank account in accordance with the schedule referred to in paragraph 5.2 or in accordance with paragraph 6.4 shall be signed by two members of the Council (all councillors on mandate). All other accounts savings and 30 day Deposit Account) shall be signed by two members of Council.
5.4 To indicate agreement of the details shown on the cheque or order for payment with the counterfoil and the invoice or similar documentation, the signatories shall each also initial the cheque counterfoil.
6. PAYMENT OF ACCOUNTS
6.1 All payments shall be effected by cheque or other order drawn on the Council's bankers.
6.2 All invoices for payment shall be examined, verified and certified by the RFO. The RFO shall satisfy him/herself that the work, goods or services to which the invoice relates shall have been received, carried out, examined and approved.
6.3 The RFO shall examine invoices in relation to arithmetic accuracy and shall analyse them to the appropriate expenditure heading. The RFO shall take all steps to settle all invoices submitted, and which are in order, at the next available Council Meeting.
6.4 If a payment is necessary to avoid a charge to interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, and the due date for payment is before the next scheduled Meeting of Council, where the RFO certifies that there is no dispute or other reason to delay payment, the RFO may (notwithstanding para 6.3) take all steps necessary to settle such invoices provided that a list of such payments shall be submitted to the next appropriate meeting of the Council.
a) The RFO shall maintain as petty cash float not exceeding £50 for the purpose of defraying operational and other expenses. Vouchers for payments made from petty cash shall be kept to substantiate the payment.
b) Income received must not be paid into the petty cash float but must be separately banked, as provided elsewhere in these regulations.
c) Payments to maintain the petty cash float shall be shown separately on the schedule of payments presented to the Council under 5.2 above.
6.6 If thought appropriate by the Council, payment for contracted services may be made by variable Direct Debit provided that the instructions are signed by two members and any payments are reported to Council as made. The approval of the use of a variable Direct Debit shall be renewed by resolution of the Council at least every two years.
7. PAYMENT OF SALARIES
7.1 As an employer, the Council shall make arrangements to meet fully the statutory requirements placed on all employers. The Clerk will be paid by monthly cheque for hours worked and expenses incurred which will form part of the payment schedule in 5.2.
8. LOANS AND INVESTMENTS
8.1 All loans and investments shall be negotiated in the name of the Council and shall be for a set period in accordance with Council policy.
8.2 The Council shall consider the need for an Investment Policy which, if drawn up, shall be in accordance with relevant regulations, proper practices and guidance. Any Policy shall be reviewed at least annually. All investments of money under the control of the Council shall be in the name of the Council.
8.3 All borrowings shall be effected in the name of the Council, after obtaining any necessary borrowing approval. Any application for borrowing approval shall be approved by Council as to terms and purpose. The terms and conditions of borrowings shall be reviewed at least annually.
8.4 All investment certificates and other documents relating thereto shall be retained in the custody of the RFO.
9.1 The collection of all sums due to the Council shall be the responsibility of and under the supervision of the RFO.
9.2 Particulars of all charges to be made for work done, services rendered or goods supplied shall be agreed annually by the Council, notified to the RFO and the RFO shall be responsible for the collection of all accounts due to the Council.
9.3 The Council will review all fees and charges annually, following a report of the RFO.
9.4 Any sums found to be irrecoverable and any bad debts shall be reported to the Council and shall be written off in the year.
9.5 All sums received on behalf of the Council shall be banked in tact as directed by the RFO. In all cases, all receipts shall be deposited with the Council's bankers with such frequency as the RFO considers necessary.
9.6 The origin of each receipt shall be entered on the paying-in slip.
9.7 Personal cheques shall not be cashed out of money held on behalf of the Council.
9.8 The RFO shall promptly complete any VAT Return that is required. Any repayment claim due in accordance with VAT Act 1994 section 33 shall be made at least annually coinciding with the financial year end.
9.9 Where any significant sums of cash are regularly received by the Council, the RFO shall take such steps as are agreed by the Council to ensure that more than one person is present when the cash is counted in the first instance, that there is a reconciliation to some form of control such as ticket issues, and that appropriate care is taken in the security and safety of individuals banking such cash.
10. ORDERS FOR WORK, GOODS AND SERVICES
10.1 An official order or letter shall be issued for all work, goods and services unless a formal contract is to be prepared or an official order would be inappropriate. Copies of orders shall be retained.
10.2 Order books shall be controlled by the RFO.
10.3 All members and the RFO are responsible for obtaining value for money at all times. The RFO issuing an official order shall ensure as far as reasonable and practicable that the best available terms are obtained in respect of each transaction, usually by obtaining three or more quotations or estimates from appropriate suppliers, subject to any variations in Regulation 11.1 below.
10.4 The RFO shall verify the lawful nature of any proposed purchase before the issue of any order and in the case of new or infrequent purchases or payments, the RFO shall ensure that the statutory authority shall be reported to the Meeting at which the order is approved so that the Minutes can record the power being used.
11.1 Procedures as to contracts are laid down as follows:
a) Every contract shall comply with these financial regulations, and no exceptions shall be made otherwise than in an emergency provided that these regulations shall not apply to contracts which relate to items (i) to (vi) below:
- For the supply of gas, electricity, water, sewerage and telephone services;
- For specialist services such as are provided by solicitors, accountants, surveyors and planning consultants;
- For work to be executed or goods or materials to be supplied which consist of repairs to or parts for existing machinery or equipment or plant;
- For work to be executed or goods or materials to be supplied which constitute an extension of an existing contract by the Council;
- For additional audit work of the external Auditor up to an estimated value of £250 (in excess of this sum the RFO shall act after consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council);
- For goods or materials proposed to be purchased which are proprietary articles and/or are only sold at a fixed price.
b) Where it is intended to enter into a contract exceeding £750 in value for the supply of goods or materials or for the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services as are excepted as set out in paragraph (a) the RFO shall invite tenders from at least three firms to be taken from the appropriate approved list.
c) When applications are made to waive financial regulations relating to contracts to enable a price to be negotiated without competition the reason shall be embodied in a recommendation to the Council.
d) Such invitation to tender shall state the general nature of the intended contract and the RFO shall obtain the necessary technical assistance to prepare a specification in appropriate cases. The invitation shall in addition state that tenders must be addressed to the RFO in the ordinary course of post. In certain circumstances as directed by the Council a tendering firm shall be supplied with a specifically marked envelope in which the tender is to be sealed and remain sealed until the prescribed date for opening tenders for that contract.
e) All sealed tenders shall be opened at the same time on the prescribed date by the RFO in the presence of at least one member of Council.
f) If less than three tenders are received for contracts above the £750 or if all the tenders are identical the Council may make such arrangements as it thinks fit for procuring the goods or materials or executing the works.
g) Any invitation to tender issued under this regulation shall contain a statement to the effect of Council Standing Orders.
h) When it is to enter into a contract less than £750 in value for the supply of goods or materials or for the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services as are excepted as set out in paragraph (a) the RFO shall obtain 3 quotations (priced descriptions of the proposed supply); where the value is below £750 and above £400 the RFO shall strive to obtain 3 estimates. Where the value is less than £400 it is not necessary to obtain three quotes.
i) The Council shall not be obliged to accept the lowest or any tender, quote or estimate.
12. PAYMENTS UNDER CONTRACTS FOR BUILDING OR OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKS
12.1 Payments on account of the contract sum shall be made within the time specified in the contract by the RFO upon authorised certificates of the architect or other consultants engaged to supervise the contract (subject to any percentage withholding as may be agreed in the particular contract).
12.2 Where contracts provide for payment by instalments the RFO shall maintain a record of all such payments. In any case where it is estimated that the total cost of work carried out under a contract, excluding agreed variations, will exceed the contract sum of 5% or more a report shall be submitted to the Council.
12.3 Any variation to a contract or addition to or omission from a contract must be approved by the Council and RFO to the Contractor in writing, the Council being informed where the final cost is likely to exceed the financial provision.
13. STORES AND EQUIPMENT
13.1 The RFO shall be responsible for the care and custody of stores and equipment.
13.2 Delivery Notes shall be obtained in respect of all goods received into store or otherwise delivered and goods must be checked as to order and quality at the time delivery is made.
13.3 Stocks shall be kept at the minimum levels consistent with operational requirements.
13.4 The RFO shall be responsible for periodic checks of stocks and stores at least annually.
14. ASSETS, PROPERTIES AND ESTATES
14.1 The RFO shall make appropriate arrangements for the custody of all title deeds of properties owned by the Council. The RFO shall ensure a record is maintained of all properties owned by the Council, recording the location, extent, plan, reference, purchase details, nature of the interest, tenancies granted, rents payable and purpose for which held in accordance with Accounts and Audit Regulations.
14.2 No property shall be sold, leased or otherwise disposed of without the authority of the Council, together with any other consents required by law, save where the estimated value of any one item of tangible movable property does not exceed £50.
14.3 The RFO shall ensure that an appropriate and accurate Register of Assets and Investments is kept up to date. The continued existence of tangible assets shown in the Register shall be verified at least annually, possibly in conjunction with a health and safety inspection of assets.
15.1 Following the annual risk assessment (per Financial Regulation 17), the RFO shall effect all insurances and negotiate all claims on the Council's insurers.
15.2 The RFO shall review all new risks, properties or vehicles which require to be insured and of any alterations affecting existing insurances.
15.3 The RFO shall keep a record of all insurances effected by the Council and the property and risks covered thereby and annually review it.
15.4 The RFO shall be notified of any loss liability or damage or of any event likely to lead to a claim, and shall report these to the Chairman within 48 hours and to the Council at the next available Meeting.
15.5 All appropriate employees of the Council shall be included in a suitable fidelity guarantee insurance which shall cover the maximum risk exposure as determined by the Council.
16.1 Where the Council is sole trustee of a Charitable body the RFO shall ensure that separate accounts are kept of the funds held on charitable trusts and separate financial reports made in such form as shall be appropriate, in accordance with Charity Law and legislation, or as determined by the Charity Commission. The RFO shall arrange for any Audit or Independent Examination as may be required by Charity Law or any Governing Document.
17. RISK MANAGEMENT
17.1 The Council is responsible for putting in place arrangements for the management of risk. The RFO shall prepare, for approval by the Finance Committee and adoption by the Council, risk management policy statements in respect of all activities of the Council. Risk policy statements and consequential risk management arrangements shall be reviewed by the Council at least annually.
17.2 When considering any new activity, RFO shall prepare a draft risk assessment including risk management proposals for consideration by the Council and adoption by the Council.
18. REVISION OF FINANCIAL REGULATIONS
18.1 It shall be the duty of the Council to review the Financial Regulations of the Council from time to time and by the Council at least once every four years. The RFO shall make arrangements to monitor changes in legislation or proper practices and shall advise the Council of any requirement for a consequential amendment to these Financial Regulations.
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(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
The risks arising from the Council's activities have been assessed and documented. The assessment specifies the risks, the measures adopted to control such risks and the identity of the individual or individuals responsible for the implementation of control measures. The assessment was reviewed in May 2016 and is available as an Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
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GRANTS POLICY STATEMENT
(Reviewed and Adopted 2nd May 2017)
A GRANT OR SUBSIDY IS ANY PAYMENT MADE BY THE COUNCIL TO BE USED BY AN ORGANISATION OR INDIVIDUAL FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE IN THE FURTHERANCE OF THE WELL-BEING OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY, EITHER GENERALLY, OR FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE AND WHICH IS NOT DIRECTLY CONTROLLED OR ADMINISTERED BY THE COUNCIL.
1.1 The contribution made by the many organisations and individuals to the well being of the local community is recognised by the Council as important to our society. The purpose of any grant or subsidy given by the Council is to support initiatives in the local community and to help create opportunities for the residents of Birch Parish that are not, as a matter of course, funded by the Council.
1.2 These notes have been prepared to explain the main details of the Council's Grants/Subsidy Scheme. Please read them carefully before you contact the Parish Clerk for an application form.
1.3 Although the Council will give as much help as possible, the administration of and accounting for any grant or subsidy shall be the responsibility of the recipient.
1.4 There is no set budget each year and guidance will be given to applicants as to how much money may be available in a specific financial year. It is unlikely that the amount for any individual award would exceed a maximum of £500. It is important that all questions on the application form are fully answered and that any appropriate additional information, which supports an application, is provided. It is expected that applicants will seek advice from Council Officers on these matters.
1.5 The scheme provides start-up awards for new as well as grants for existing organisations.
1.6 Grants/subsidies are awarded at the beginning of the financial year in April. The deadline for applications is the previous September on the 30th of the month.
CONDITIONS OF FUNDING
1. Applications will be considered from individuals as well as organisations. Applications will be considered for day-to-day running expenses and individual projects.
2. Applications WILL NOT be considered from:
- Organisations intending to support or oppose any particular political party or to discriminate on the grounds of race or religion.
- Private organisations operated as a business to make a profit or surplus.
- "Upward funders", i.e. local groups whose fund raising is sent to their central HQ for redistribution.
3. Applications will not normally be considered from national organisations or local groups with access to funds from national "umbrella" or "parent" organisations; unless funds are not available from their national bodies or the funds available are inadequate for a specified project.
4. Applications from religious groups will be considered where a clear benefit to the wider community can be demonstrated irrespective of their religious beliefs. Compliance with this requirement will need to be demonstrated throughout the project.
5. Applications from education, health or social service establishments will be considered where the organisation can demonstrate that it is working in partnership with other groups and where there are benefits to the wider community within the Parish.
6. The organisation will normally be expected to have clearly written aims and objectives, a written constitution and membership rules, copies of which should be submitted as part of the application. In addition, an organisation must demonstrate that it is properly managed and able to run its affairs responsibly. Individuals should include references to back their application.
7. All applications must demonstrate clearly how a grant or subsidy will be of benefit to the local community within the Parish.
8. An organisation is required to submit audited accounts or accounts that have been independently examined by a suitably qualified person, for the previous two financial years or, in the case of a newly formed organisation, a detailed budget and business plan.
9. An organisation is required to have a bank account in its own name with two authorised representatives required to sign each cheque.
10. Ongoing commitments to award grants or subsidies in future years will not be made. A fresh application will be required each year.
11. Each application will be assessed on its own merits and will be considered along with other applications at a meeting of the Council. To ensure as fair a distribution as possible, the Council will take into account the amount and frequency of previous awards.
12. Due account will betaken of the extent to which funding has been sought or secured from other sources or own fund-raising activities. Further details of other organisations that may be supportive should be declared to the Council.
13. The Council may make the award of any grant or subsidy subject to such additional conditions and requirements as it considers appropriate.
To apply for a grant in the first instance the Parish Clerk should be contacted with an outline of the purpose and funding requirements. If the initial concept is accepted by the Council a full application form will be forwarded to the applicant.
PROCEDURE FOR SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS
A. Awards may be claimed at any time during the financial year on provision of evidence that the money has been used for the purpose stated.
B. In all situations a written account of how the grant or subsidy has been used shall be submitted by the applicant to the Council with a copy of the invoice for the monies spent.
C. In the case of organisations, end of year accounts shall be submitted to the Council clearly defining how the award has been used.
D. Individuals must provide proof of expenditure to the Council where practical.
E. The Council reserves the right not to pay any award in the event of it not being used for the purpose specified on the application form.
F. Organisations that receive an award will be required to acknowledge the Parish Council's contribution on all publicity/printed material
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