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 is entitled to see and obtain a copy of the agenda of every meeting of the full Council, Council body and any meeting of the Cabinet held in public at least five days before the day of the meeting (excluding the day the agenda is first publicised and the day of the meeting itself). The public may also see and obtain a copy of every report that is to be considered at the meeting and any “background paper” that was relied on to produce the report. A member of the public will know whether there are any background papers to a report because the author of a report will list any that they have used. Background papers need not be listed in the case of any report that contains confidential or exempt information.
- Sometimes the agenda is changed, and new items of business added to it, after an agenda is published in accordance with paragraph 5 of these rules. When this happens, the Monitoring Officer will ensure that the revised agenda is available to the public as soon as a new agenda item has been added. Any new report, and any associated background papers, will be made available to the public at the same time they are made available to elected Members of the Council.
- Occasionally an item of “urgent business” will arise and need to be added to the agenda of the full Council, a Council body or the Cabinet in circumstances that precluded its prior publication in accordance with paragraphs 5 and 6 of these rules.Subject to advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Chair of any meeting may add an urgent business to the agenda of any meeting but when they do so, they must explain why the item is urgent and this reason must be written down in the minutes of the meeting.
- The public’s right to look at and obtain copies of reports and background papers in accordance with paragraphs 5 to 7 of these rules is subject to the limitation that they are not entitled to look at, or receive a copy of, any exempt or confidential information. Any item of business that is restricted in this way will be clearly described on the agenda as being “not for publication” and contain a statement that it contains either exempt or confidential information within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972. Reports containing exempt or confidential information will be clearly marked in the same way. In the case of exempt material, the agenda and the report will specify which paragraph of Schedule 12A to the 1972 Act applies to place an item of business into this category.
At least 28 clear days before a private meeting i.e. a meeting or part of a meeting from which the public are to be excluded because exempt or confidential information may be disclosed, Cabinet must publish at Shire Hall and on the Council’s website, notice of the intention to hold a private meeting, stating its reasons. A further such notice must be published at least 5 clear days before the private meeting and will include details of any representations received by Cabinet about why the meeting should be open to the public, and its response to any such representations. Where compliance with this requirement is impracticable Cabinet must obtain agreement from the Chair of the relevant Scrutiny Committee, or where they are unable to act, the Chair of the Council, that the meeting is urgent and cannot reasonably be deferred. Once agreement has been obtained notice of it and the reasons will be published.