Of the 54 recently elected community councils in Argyll and Bute, it was the turn of Ardentinny to hold its inuagural meeting on Thursday 28 November. Chaired by Shirley MacLeod, Argyll and Bute Council’s Area Governance Manager and Depute Returning Officer, the meeting began with the nomination of office bearers.
Val Kennedy was nominated as Convener, Marian Norris as Vice Convener, Malcolm Bartley as Treasurer and Roy Harrison as Secretary. The Chair asked if any of the nominees had held these positions continuously for eight years, i.e., two terms, as it was not permitted to hold them for a third consecutive term. Val Kennedy was unsure, Marian Norris and Roy Harrison advised that they had not served two terms continuously. Malcolm Bartley confirmed that he had served more than two consecutive terms. The committee was asked to check on the situation regarding Val and, if two thirds of the committee were in agreement that Val and Malcolm should continue in office, they should write to the Council requesting its consent.
The Chair then asked if the committee would adopt the Model Constitution which they had all received and that the Convener and two other members sign it, prior to her recording that it had been adopted. She then asked if there were any questions regarding the Standing Orders, which are the rules by which Community Council meetings should be run. There were none and it was agreed and recorded that these had also been adopted.
The following points on governance were then made by the Chair:
Meeting agendas should be displayed to Argyll and Bute Council; all Community Councillors; and the public 7 days prior to meetings.
Draft minutes should be similarly displayed within 14 days of meetings being held.
Argyll and Bute Council will hold annual by-elections in the autumn of each year.
Annual General Meeting.
The AGM must be held between the 1 April and 30 June
There should be a minimum of 6 community council meetings per annum plus the AGM.
All meetings should be held in public.
Half the members of the community council must be present and never less than three, in order to have a quorum.
Annual accounts should be independently audited, signed off and then agreed by the Community Council before applying for the admin grant.
Community councils can raise funds to support local groups but the administration grant cannot be used for that purpose.
Community Councils can only co-opt members at the AGM and only for a six month period until the next scheduled by-election. Co-opted members have full voting rights but after a six-month period, they need to either stand for election at the next by-election or cease to be a co-opted member. They can also only be co-opted once during a Community Council’s 4-year term. It is still permissible to invite people with specific skills to work with the Community Council on a particular project but they do not have voting rights.
Declarations of Interest.
Declarations of interest should be on the agenda, requested at meetings, declared and minuted. Those who have declared an interest cannot participate in the discussion and, if the interest is financial, they should leave the room.
Voting must always take place at a public meeting. The Convener has a casting vote.
There are no secret ballots in a community council.
Community Councils should have a clear, adopted policy on handling complaints regarding how the Community Council has dealt with an issue or about the behaviour of a particular community councillor. It is recommended that complaints are discussed in public at the next available community council meeting.
Community Councils are not compelled to but are strongly recommended to register with the ICO under The Data Protection Act.
The Council will consult all community councils in the first quarter of 2014 regarding their perceived training needs and it will then deliver the top four priorities later in the year.
Getting the message out.
Argyll & Bute Council has a web page on community councils on which they would like feedback. If community councils have a website, the Council can link to it. As Ardentinny community council does not currently have a website a community councillor asked if the council would consider linking to www.ardentinny.org. Shirley MacLeod said that would be possible and was something for the community council to discuss and decide.
Community Emergency Plan.
When asked about the community emergency plan Ardentinny community council said that they had decided not to prepare one as the residents tended to look after each other automatically. The Chair urged them to prepare one, stressing that it was about a two-way flow of information between communities and the Council and how it enabled them to know who needed generators, hot food, etc. in emergencies and involved little more than making sure they knew who to contact to get access to the hall, who was vulnerable etc. There are still some emergency kit bags available one of which the village may receive when its plan is submitted.
The next community council meeting will be held on Tuesday 4 December at 7.30. p.m. in the village hall. All are welcome to attend.