Angus Community Councillors' Information Handbook

Contents


Operating arrangements and your role

1. How your community council works

1.1 Background

The main operating arrangements for community councils are contained in the Angus Council Scheme for the Establishment for Community Councils and, therefore, community councillors should familiarise themselves with this document.

Highlighted below are the key points about working procedures and the support that Angus Council offers to assist community councils to operate as efficiently and effectively as they can.

1.2 Constitution

Each community council should have a constitution, which is an agreed set of working procedures. The Angus Council Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils provides a framework for the operation of community councils in Angus and also includes a model constitution and standing orders, which apply to all Angus community councils. Community councils may choose to draw up their own constitution, in accordance with the model constitution and standing orders, however any details therein cannot conflict with the Scheme itself. All constitutions should be forwarded to communityplanning@angus.gov.uk for countersigning by Angus Council.

1.3 Finances

All community councils receive an annual operational grant from Angus Council. The amount of the grant is based on the population of the community council area. The financial year for community councils runs from 1 April to 31 March. Angus Council allows the use of suitable local, council-owned premises for community council meetings free of charge.

We are also striving where possible, to use digital communications. If a community council wishes to print larger volumes of printed materials they should consider use of Angus Council’s Digital Reprographics Unit who can provide specialist advice on printing of documents for community councils. Community councils should contact the Digital Reprographics Unit directly for advice and information, and with regard to any charges. Contact details are listed in Section 3.

Community councils have the power to raise money and obtain funds by means of contributions, donations, subscriptions, deeds of covenant, legacies or grants.

Community councils should meet to approve, or otherwise, a statement of its accounts for the previous financial year ending 31 March within three months of the end of such year. Community councils should also meet to approve, or otherwise, a report (prepared by the Chairperson) on the activities of the community council during the preceding financial year. Both of the above should be submitted to Angus Council no later than 31 July in the year following the end of the appropriate financial year.

Please note those Community Councils who do not submit their accounts within three months of the end of the financial year will not receive their annual grant.

1.4 Meetings

It is up to individual community councils to decide the number of community council meetings it will hold in a year, however, a community council should not hold any less than six meetings in any one calendar year. Outlined below are key points in respect of holding community council meetings:

  • community councils should ensure that the local community is made aware of the dates and times of meetings and items to be discussed, and that there is opportunity for members of the public and special interest groups to participate in the meetings of community councils
  • no business should be transacted at a meeting of the community council other than that specified in the notice of the meeting. However, there is provision in the standing orders for a matter of urgency to be raised
  • no business should be transacted at a meeting of the community council unless at least 1⁄3 of the current voting membership is present. If, after 15 minutes of the advertised time for the start of a meeting, a quorum is not present, the meeting should be adjourned until such a date and time as the Chairperson may decide.
  • minutes of the proceedings of a meeting of a community council should be drawn up by the Secretary and approved at the next meeting of the community council. Minutes of all meetings should be sent to communityplanning@angus.gov.uk

Community councils shall ensure, so far as is reasonable and practicable, that meetings are held in premises accessible to all members of the community, including those with disabilities.

1.5 Insurance

Community councils should consider the need for public liability insurance. Angus Council can assist community councils in the provision of suitable insurance, providing cover for members in relation to their activities and also to cover against accident in relation to travel on community council business and in relation to events organised by community councils. Community councils should contact Angus Council’s Insurance Team at riskteam@angus.gov.uk for any further information or advice on insurance. Contact details are listed in section 3.

1.6 Training

To assist community councils to fulfil their role, Angus Council is committed to providing training for community councillors, either in respect of the specific operation of council departments or in the promotion of good practice by community councillors in areas of general interest such as running meetings, taking minutes, financial accounting, information technology, community engagement, planning and equalities etc. Any training requests should be sent to communityplanning@angus.gov.uk

1.7 Publicity

All community council meetings should be open to the public and public notice of each meeting shall be given at least ten days before the meeting. This could be by newspaper advertisement, by notice displayed in a public place, or local notice boards, use of social media, websites etc. Community councils should publicise their meetings and activities, and items of interest to their communities.

2. Your role as a community councillor

2.1 Background

Your role as a community councillor is essential to the effective and efficient operation of the community council and these next few pages outline your role as a community councillor.

As stated, the purpose of a community council is to ascertain, co-ordinate and express the views of the community to Angus Council and other public bodies. Therefore, your role as a community councillor is to establish and represent the views of your community. It is not about offering your own personal views on a subject. In practice, this will involve discussing issues with people in the community to clarify their views and assess the strength of feeling on various topics. Also, as a community councillor you should promote the community council and make yourself accessible to the local community. Community councillors are expected to attend community council meetings on a regular basis and, if you are not able to attend, you should give your apologies to the Secretary or chair.

2.2 Code of Conduct for Community Councillors

You should make sure that you are familiar with, and that your actions comply with the principles set out in the code of conduct for community councillors as included in the Angus Council Scheme for the establishment of Community Councils which states that: “Members shall at all times act in such a manner as not to bring disrepute on the community council.  During meetings they shall act courteously towards other members and members of the public and shall respect the authority of the Chairperson. Members shall observe the Code of Conduct for members of Angus Community Councils” Further expectations with regard to the following matters are outlined in the Code including:

  • community leadership
  • duty to uphold the law
  • community interest
  • selflessness
  • integrity and propriety
  • hospitality
  • decisions objectivity and decision making
  • accountability
  • openness
  • confidentiality
  • stewardship
  • participation 
  • declarations
  • relations with Angus councillors
  • relations with Angus officers
  • political affiliations
  • personal conduct

2.3 Office Bearers

For a community council to function it must appoint office bearers to undertake certain duties and the responsibilities of these positions are summarised below.

  • Chairperson
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Planning Contact

The Secretary and the Treasurer need not be community council members. A community council may make such payments to the Secretary and Treasurer as they may from time to time decide and arrange for the provision of clerical services.

Chairperson

The chair has particular responsibility in relation to the management of the community council including ensuring:

  • meetings are run competently
  • discussion and decision making is democratic and everyone is able to
  • participate in the meetings
  • relevant matters are discussed and appropriate decisions are made
  • compliance with the code of conduct by all community councillors

The Chairperson shall hold office until their term of office as a member expires, or they resign, and is eligible for re-election as Chairperson. Any casual vacancy in the office of Chairperson shall be filled as soon as convenient by the community council. At a meeting of the community council the appointed Chairperson will chair the meeting. If the Chairperson is absent from a meeting, the vice-Chairperson if applicable should chair. Where both the Chairperson and vice-Chairperson are absent from a meeting, the members present should choose who will chair.

The Chairperson may warn any members of the public who interrupts the proceedings of a meeting and may order the removal of that person should such interruption be continued and, in the event of any disorder arising at any meeting, the Chairperson shall be entitled to adjourn the meeting until a date and time as he or she shall decide.

If any member of the community council disregards the authority of the Chairperson, obstructs the meeting, or, in the opinion of the Chairperson acts in an offensive manner at a meeting, the Chairperson may move that such a member be suspended for the remainder of the meeting. If seconded, such a motion shall be put to the vote immediately without discussion.

Secretary

The main duties of the Secretary will include:

  • convening meetings
  • booking rooms
  • dealing with correspondence (both in and out)
  • preparing the agendas for meetings
  • taking minutes for meetings unless a minute Secretary has been appointed
  • distributing agendas and minutes

The Secretary will be responsible for the minutes of meetings, posting and displaying and advertising of notices of meetings, and is the official correspondent of the community council. Community councils may choose to appoint a minute Secretary as well as their community council Secretary. The Secretary shall forward minutes (after approval) as soon as practicable to communityplanning@angus.gov.uk local elected members and other places in the area where information can be readily available. A template for minutes is included in Appendix 4.

The Secretary should keep councillors of Angus Council, whose electoral ward or part of whose electoral ward lies within any part of the community council area, informed with regard to any relevant matter arising at a meeting of the community council. The Secretary should also keep the chief officers of appropriate departments of Angus Council informed (as appropriate) with regard to any relevant matter arising at a meeting of the community council in accordance with Angus Council’s “Code of Guidance on Writing to the Council”.

The Secretary should keep Angus Council informed of the names and addresses of the members of the community council and persons appointed by the community council as Chairperson, vice-Chairperson, Treasurer and planning representative by emailing communityplanning@angus.gov.uk

The Secretary shall hold office until the appointment is terminated by the community council or resigned, on one month's notice.

Treasurer

The main tasks of the Treasurer include to:

  • advise the community council on financial matters
  • control and account for the community council’s finances
  • oversee bookkeeping
  • prepare the annual accounts

The financial year of the community council shall be the year commencing on 1st April and ending on 31st March in the year immediately following. The Treasurer shall prepare a statement of income and expenditure for the period of the financial year immediately preceding which shall be submitted to the community council not later than three months immediately following, duly audited.

The auditor* (independent examiner) of the accounts must not be a member, hold any other office of the community council or be related to a community councillor. The auditor should be someone who is suitably experienced in accountancy (preferably a qualified accountant). A community council may make such payments to the auditor as they may from time to time decide. A copy of the audited accounts as approved by the community council shall be sent as soon as practicable thereafter to communityplanning@angus.gov.uk but no later than 31st July immediately following.

The Treasurer shall keep complete records of the income and expenditure of the community council and shall report on a regular basis as to the income and expenditure to the community council. The Treasurer shall pay into a bank account in the name of the community council all monies received by him or her on behalf of the community council and shall pay out of that bank account all the expenses of the community council. It is provided that the community council may specify from time to time a sum not exceeding £50 as an imprest for petty cash payments, and may open such deposits or investment accounts as it may deem necessary.

All cheques drawn on the bank account shall be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by the Chairperson, whom failing, one other member. The Treasurer shall submit to each meeting of the community council for approval a list of all payments made by him or her as a matter of urgency since the last meeting and any accounts due and payable by the community council.

The Treasurer shall keep records of all heritable and moveable property acquired by the community council, by gift, purchase or otherwise. The Treasurer shall hold office until the appointment is terminated by the community council or resigned, on one month's notice (see also Community Council Financial Guidelines, including basic layout for a Cash Book and the preferred layout for annual accounts, detailed in the Good Practice Agreement)

Planning Contact

Each community council is required to appoint a planning contact to act as its point of contact for all planning matters. The main tasks of the Planning Contact include:

  • act as the official correspondent for planning consultations on the Local Development Plan
  • ensure relevant planning matters are discussed and that wider community views are taken into account at community council meetings
  • ensure that the community council responds to consultations in accordance with any agreed procedures and prescribed timescales

Specific arrangements are made by Angus Council for consultation on planning applications and each community council should ensure that a Planning Contact person is appointed and that the name and contact details of the Planning Contact are sent to both Angus Council’s planning service planning@angus.gov.uk and to email box communityplanning@angus.gov.uk as soon as any appointment of a Planning Contact is made or details of the Planning Contact are changed. More information on the role community councils in the planning process can be found online. When Angus Council reviews the Angus Local Development Plan (adopted in 2016), Community Councils will be consulted throughout the process. Community Councils also have a statutory right to be consulted on applications for planning permission. Angus Council recognises that community councils have a special role, representing a broader yet still local view which can be considered alongside the comments of those with a more individual interest when planning applications are determined. Angus Council will provide each community council with a list of all planning applications that are received on a weekly basis and allow a period of 21 days for comments to be submitted. Angus Council will also ensure that planning applications can be viewed online.

*‘Auditor’ refers to a trusted person, e.g. a retired Bank Manager, to look over your annual accounts and view all income/expenditure with receipts. Angus Council does not need copies of any receipts. An auditor in this instance does not have to be provided from a private firm/something that you pay high expense for.