Part 4 - Rules of access to information about the County Council's formal business
Below are the rules of access to information about the County Council's formal business.
- 1 - Introduction
- 2 - The public's right to attend meetings
- 3 - The public’s right to obtain copies of the agenda to meetings and reports and documents that are to be discussed at meetings
- 4 - Sub-committees, panels and groups
- 5 - Decisions by the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members and Officers
- 6 - Minutes of meetings and executive decisions
- 7 - Charges for the supply of agenda, reports and background papers
- 8 - The special rules that apply to “key decisions”
- 9 - Exceptions to the need to publish notice of a key decision 28 days in advance
- 10 - The general exception rule
- 11 - The special urgency rule
- 12 - Scrutiny committees
- 13 - Elected Members’ additional rights of access to information
- 14 - Additional rights of access to information by Scrutiny Committees
- 14 - Elected Members’ duty of confidence
- Appendix to rules on the public's right of access to information about the council's formal business
- The public may attend any meeting of the full Council, a Council body and the Cabinet except for:
2.1 Any informal meeting of the Cabinet that may, and which the Cabinet decides shall, be held in private, where no formal decisions can be taken;
2.2 Any meeting, or part of a meeting, that involves the consideration of “exempt information”, and which the full Council, a Council body or the Cabinet formally resolves should not be open to members of the public;
2.3 Any meeting or part of a meeting that involves the consideration of “confidential information”.
- The meaning of “exempt information” information is described in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, which is reproduced as an Appendix to these rules. In essence information will be “exempt information” if it contains personal details about an existing, former or prospective employee or Member of the Council or another individual who is affected by what the Council is doing, information about prospective contracts, legal proceedings and negotiations with trade unions. The Council is committed to conducting its business openly. Therefore, as a general principle, it will discuss matters in public unless there are compelling reasons why it should not do so.
- The meaning of “confidential information” is defined in Section 100A of the 1972 Act. It is important to note that this statutory definition has a much narrower meaning than might be ascribed to it in everyday language and catches only that information that is given to the Council by a government department on terms that forbid disclosure to the public and information that may not be disclosed under any enactment or the terms of a court order. Whilst the Council has discretion to allow the public access to exempt information, no such choice exists in relation to confidential information; the law requires that the Council must exclude the public when confidential information is discussed.