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Parish Council Standing Orders 2018

Standing Orders For Swerford Parish Council

November 2018 STANDING ORDERS

Standing orders are the written rules of a local council. They regulate the proceedings of meetings and confirm or refer to various internal organisational and administrative arrangements.

They do not include Financial Regulations which are standing orders to regulate and control the financial affairs and accounting procedures. These include requirements relevant to the councilís Responsible Financial Officer.

Councillors

1.1 Following election or co-option to the Swerford Parish Council,each Councillor will be issued with a copy of the Code of Conduct and the Standing Orders of the Council. They will also sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office in the presence of the Clerk of the Council, or of a Councillor who has been specifically designated by the Council for this purpose, and complete a Register of Membersí Interests (both statutory forms to be returned to the Parish Clerk). These are to be signed before the start of the first meeting after their election/co-option, or later by formal resolution of the Council.

1.2 Councillors will observe the Code of Conductat all times when on Council business and no member will act in such a way that will bring the Council into disrepute, behave offensively in meetings or obstruct the Councilís business.

1.3 The Code of Conduct adopted by the Council will define when a Councillor will declare a personal or prejudicial interest in an item for discussion at a Council meeting. The Councillor will declare that interest and the nature of the interest at the earliest opportunity.

2 Annual Meetings

2.1 If the Annual Meeting is in an election year it must be held within 14 days after that election. If it is not an election year then the annual meeting will take place on an appropriate day in May.

2.2 If the outgoing Chairman is available then he/she will preside until a new Chairman has been elected.

The first business of the Annual Meeting will be the election of the Chairman (and Vice Chairman, if appropriate) and to receive an Acceptance of Office Form which is to be completed and handed to the Proper Person (the Parish Clerk). (N.B. While Councillors are required to complete such an Acceptance only once at the commencement of their term of office, that of the Chairman has to be completed each year after his/her election to the Chair.)

3.Meetings

3.1 Formal meetings will be held in appropriate, accessible accommodation. Until agreed otherwise by the Council such meetings will be held in Swerford Village Hall.Formal committee meetings will not be held on premises used for the supply of alcohol, or within the private residence of a Councillor. 3.2 Any person attending a meeting is permitted to report on the meeting whilst the meeting is open to the public. (That is to film, photograph, record or any other means of enabling persons not present to see or hear as the meeting takes place, or later. Aural reports or commentary may not occur without permission.)

3.3 An agreed frequency of meetings will be decided at the Annual Meeting. Councillors will be called to meetings by the issue of a summons and agenda by the Parish Clerk, deliveredelectronically, by post or by hand at least three clear business days before the meeting. There shall be at least three ordinary meetings in addition to the Annual Meeting.

3.4 Public notices will be posted on the Swerford Parish web site and on the Village notice boards. Notices will inform members of the public of the venue, time, date and business to be transacted. The notice will be posted at least three clear business days before the meeting.

3.5 Meetings will be open to the public (and press) unless their presence is considered prejudicial to the publicís interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to hand, or for any other special reason. Any such exclusion shall be by resolution which shall give reasons for such exclusion.

Members of the public have a statutory right to attend Committee Meetings, but no right to participate, unless asked to do so at the discretion of the Chairman. Public participation will be restricted to items on the agenda unless otherwise agreed by the Chairman. Unless otherwise agreed by the Chairman, Members of the public/press will be given 5 minutes to speak. A total of 20 minutes will be allocated to cover all items that might be raised. Such items shall not require a response nor start a debate on the question unless agreedby the Chairman.(As a courtesy, members of the public are requested to submit items for the agenda to the Parish Clerk no less than 5 full working days before a meeting but this is not required.).

3.6 Items raised by members of the public/press will normally be heard following ďMatters ArisingĒ or ĎAny Other Businessí as appropriate.

3.7 The agenda for the meeting will be agreed by the Clerk, Chairman and Vice Chairman (if existing).The agenda will always include an item to enable Councillors to declare any related interests.

3.8 The Council may only take decisions on items clearly specified on the agenda. If agreed by the Chairman, any urgent items which are not on the agenda may be discussed.

3.9 The Chairman of the Council will preside at the meeting and will be responsible for the conduct of that meeting. If the Chairman is not present then the Vice Chairman (if existing) will preside. If they are not present then the first matter on the agenda will be the election of an appropriate Councillor who will chair the meeting and assume the formal duties of the Chairman for the meeting.

3.10 The quorum for any Meeting will be one third of the totalnumber of Councillors but in any case no fewer than 3. If there are insufficient members present then no business will be transacted and a fresh notice issued to reconvene the meeting at a later date.

3.11 If at any time a meeting ceases to be quorateit will be adjourned and any further business carried forward to the next meeting.

3.12 Voting at meetings shall be by a show of hands unless a majority of Councillors present request a ballot. Usually only the proposer and seconder will be recorded in the minutes although any Councillor may request that their vote is noted. A Councillor may also request that the Clerk records how each Councillor has voted, including abstentions. Any requests of this nature will be made before moving on to the next item of business.

3.13 In addition to his original vote, in cases of equal votes the Chairman will have a second or casting vote.

3.14 Minutes of the meeting will be kept by the Clerk or other nominated person in the Clerkís absence. The minutes which are circulated will be draft minutes until they are approved by the ParishCouncil at their next meeting, signed, as approved, after duly being proposed and seconded, by the person presiding at that meeting.

Draft minutes will be published on the village website and on the village notice boards no later than one month after the relevant meeting.

3.15 The Chairman may convene an Extraordinary Meeting at any time. He must convene within 7 days of having been requested by two councillors in writing, failing which the councillors may proceed by public notice signed by them.

3.16 With regard to planning applications Ė it is especially important that if any personal interest exists as defined in the Code of Conduct, this is declared and the person excused while related discussion takes place, unless written dispensation has been given by the Parish Clerk. This may be granted if appropriate: the interest will nevertheless be declared fully prior to any discussion.

4 Finance

4.1 Responsible Finance Office (RFO)

4.1.1 The position operates within a code of Proper Practice as laid down by government from time to time, and within the Councilís Financial Regulations. This is a statutory office and appointed by the Council.

4.2 Estimates and Precept

4.2.1 The RFO will provide to each Council meeting, income and expenditure statements, together with a summary of balances held, particularly highlighting any investments made or loans outstanding, for the Councilís consideration. Results will be compared to forecasts and comments made as appropriate.

The Council will review a budget not later than the end of December in preparation for the precept being agreed,and submitted to the Collection Authority in January. Amendments will be discussed in Council and changes minuted. Any changes to reserves will be discussed and earmarked to reserves by a Council Resolution.

4.3 Accounting and Audit

4.3.1 The RFO will manage all accounting procedures and financial records of the Council in accordance with the Councilís Financial Regulations, which will be considered and approved by the Council on an annual basis. These will include:

- records and controls

- the assessment and management of financial risk

- annual internal and external audits.

4.3.2 The RFO will complete the annual financial statements of the Council, including the annual return, as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year (31 March annually) and will submit and report on these to the Council. The Council will review these each year and ensure that there is an adequate, effective system of internal audit of the Councilís accounting, financial and other procedures in line with Proper Practice.

4.3.3 An Internal Auditor will be appointed by the Council to carry out the work required to comply with Proper Practice. The person appointed will be competent and independent of the operation of the Council. Comments received will be detailed and discussed with the Council for any necessary action.

4.4.4 The annual audited accounts will be published, in line with statutory requirements, on the village website and notice boards. 4.5 Banking Arrangements and Cheques

4.5.1 The Councilís banking arrangements, including the Bank Mandate, will be managed by the RFO and approved by the Council. These will be reviewed by the Council at least annually or at any time there is a change.

4.5.2 A resolution of the Council will nominate at least three Councillors as authorised signatories.Cheques will be issued for all transactions and signed by two authorised signatories.

4.5.2 Utility bills may be paid by Direct Debit provided that the instruction is signed by two authorised signatories.

A list of outstanding Direct Debits should be obtained from the bank and presented to the council, with the accounts annually (as in 4.2.1 above).

4.6 Loans and Investments

4.6.1 Loans and/or investments will be made in the name of the Council and will be set for a period approved by the Council. Details will be provided to the Council by the RFO with the annual accounts (as in 4.2.1 above).

4.6.2 No loans or investments will be made without the express approval of an extraordinary Council meeting (other than deposits with the Councilís authorised bank). Terms must be reviewed annually.

4.7 Contracts and Purchase Orders

4.7.1 An official order or letter will be issued for all work or services paid for by the Council, always responsible for obtaining good value for moneyand appropriate terms.

4.7.2 To assist, quotations will be obtained for work as follows:

- £1 - £499 minuted approval only

- £500 - £ 1,999 minuted approval supported by two quotes

- £2,000 - *(a) minuted approval supported by three quotes

- *(a) above special consideration applies and advice to be taken from WODC as to best practice.

(*(a) above refers to 50% of the Councilís net liquid assets)

4.7.3 All estimates will be approved by the Council; while the Council is not obliged to accept the lowest quotation the reasons for accepting the quotation will be recorded.

4.8 Assets

4.8.1 The RFO will ensure that an appropriate and accurate Register of Assets is maintained by the Council. It will be reviewed at least annually, in conjunction with a health and safety inspection of assets if appropriate.

4.9 VAT

4.9.1 The RFO will promptly complete any VAT Return that is required. Any repayment claim due in accordance with the VAT Act 1974 section 33 will be made at least annually.

5 Insurance

5.1 Following the annual risk assessment the Council will review the level of insurance cover and ensure it is adequate and appropriate for the activities of the Council. Minimum cover will include Public Liability, Employers Liability, Money and Fidelity Guarantee.

6 Risk Assessment

6.1 A risk assessment will be undertaken annually of all the activities of the Council and a report approved by the Council.

6.2 If the Council undertakes a new activity not covered by the existing risk assessment an assessment will be undertaken before the activity commences.

7 Management and Freedom of Information

7.1 The Council is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and has adopted the Model Publication Scheme for Parish Councils. The Clerk will ensure the Council conforms to the requirements of the Act allowing public access to the appropriate documents.

The Council will keep under review the need or otherwise for a Data Protection Officer.

8 Proper Officer/ Parish Clerk

8.1 The Council will appoint a Clerk to the Council whomay be on an employed basis. It is not deemed to be good practice to employ a Clerk who is a serving Swerford ParishCouncillor and this will only occur when so required.

8.2 The Clerk will act as the Proper Officer of the Council. He/she will:

- receive the Declarations of Acceptance of Office and a copy of the Register of Membersí Interest for all new councillors and keep these on file,

- sign documents on behalf of the council as instructed,

- issue agendas and notices of ordinary and annual meetings as required,

- take and issue minutes and their storage as required,

- receive and distribute plans on behalf of the council,

- assist with responding to requests under Freedom of Information legislation,

- convene meeting of the council when required to do so particularly for the election of a new chairman occasioned by casual vacancy,

- receive and send general correspondence (unless resolved to the contrary),

- assist in the organisation and storage of council files.

9 Committees and ĎTask and Finish Groupsí

9.1 The Council from time to time may set up committees and Ďtask-and-finish groupsí to undertake work on behalf of the Council. The Council will set their Terms of reference, and they will report periodically to the Council.

10 Emergency Business

10.1 Should it not be appropriate to convene a special meeting then any emergency business will be handled by the Clerk, in consultation with the Chairman and one other Councillor. Actions will be reported promptly to the Council.

11 Alteration or Reversal of previous decisions

11.1 Resolutions of the Council may not be revised within 4 months, except where a special motionis placed on the agenda through written request to the Parish Clerk signed by at least two Councillors, and subsequently approved by the Council.

12 Standing Orders

12.1 These and any other standing orders will be reviewed annually by the Clerk and the Chairman, and any amendments will be decided by the Council.

12.2 During the course of meetings of the Council, the Chairmanís decision as to the interpretation of the standing orders will be final. In cases of doubt, the Council will seek the advice of the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils.

12.3 The Council may resolve to suspend a Standing Order, in order to progress the business of the Council, and such decision will be included in the minutes. The suspension will not be taken lightly and it will be time-limited.

Adopted by: Swerford Parish Council November 2018 These Standing Orders supersede all previous Standing orders.

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