Swainswick Parish Council

Home » Governance ; Data Protection & Standing Orders

Governance ; Data Protection & Standing Orders

NOTE: Standing Orders have been added to this page as the original link was failing to work.

Governance & Procedures 

Parish Councils were established as the first tier of local government in 1894 to take over local oversight of civic duties in rural towns and villages. Swainswick Parish Council discharges its duties and powers within the law and according to its governance policies. These policies are reviewed annually.

The rules governing the behaviour of Parish Councillors are set out in a of Code Conduct which was last updated in June 2015  in accordance with Government and B&NES policy. Parish Councillors are required to register and disclose certain personal interests under the new standards arrangements introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Whilst B&NES administers the register of interests for all its Parish Councils, it is a requirement that where a Parish Council has its own website, its Register of Members’ Interests must be published on the website. In accordance with the Swainswick Parish Council Code of Conduct, all members of the Parish Council are required to declare any gift or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 which the member has received by virtue of his or her office, this is recorded in the Register of Members’ Interests.

Parish Councillors work to rules on how Council business shall be conducted These rules are set out in the Standing Orders adopted by the Parish Council. Please see below.

The way in which Bath and North East Somerset Council works together with its local Councils (Town and Parish Councils and Parish Meetings) is set out in the B&NES Parish Charter. This charter is currently under review.

Swainswick Parish Council is a member of the Avon Local Councils Association (ALCA) which provides support and training for the Parish Councillors and Clerk. Through ALCA, we receive support from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

NOTE: Here are further details on the Councils Functions and Powers

New Transparency Code Legislation

Under the new Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities, we are required to publish our Accounts by 1st July each year. Meeting Agendas and Minutes will also be available on this site.

Privacy Notice

Under the recent changes to the Data Protection Laws (25th May 2018) we obliged to publish our Privacy Notice. Please see below


Standing Orders


1.1. Following election or co-option to the Council, each Councillor will be issued with a

copy of the Code of Conduct and Standing Orders of the Council. They will sign

the form of 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.

1.2. All Councillors will observe the Code of Conduct at 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 Council’s 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.

  1. 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 their

acceptance of office.

2.3. The retiring Chairman will report on the activities of the Council for the preceding


  1. Meetings

3.1. Meetings will be held in appropriate, accessible accommodation. Unless no other

accommodation is available the meetings will not be held in premises used for the

supply of alcohol.

3.2. An agreed frequency of meetings will be decided at the Annual Meeting and

Councillors will be advised of the meetings by the issue of a summons and

agenda delivered by post or by hand. The agenda may be delivered by email

provided the Council has previously agreed to this. In any case the agenda must

be issued at least three clear business days before the meeting.

3.3. Public notices will be posted in conspicuous places informing members of the

public of the venue, time, date and business to be transacted at the meeting. The

notice will be posted at least three clear working days before the meeting.

3.4. Meetings will be open to the public and press but they may be temporarily

excluded from the meeting if the business is regarded as confidential.

3.5. Members of the public may speak at Council meetings at the discretion of the

Chairman of the meeting.

3.6. The agenda for the meeting will be agreed by the Clerk, Chairman and Vice

Chairman as appropriate. The agenda will always include an item to enable

Councillors to declare interests. An opportunity for public questions will be made

available immediately before the commencement of each meeting.

3.7. 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, but no decision may be made, at that meeting.

3.8. 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

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. Whoever chairs

the meeting will assume the duties of the Chairman for the meeting.

3.9. The quorum for the Council will be one third of the total Councillor places but in

any case not fewer than 3. If there be insufficient members present then no

business will be transacted and a fresh notice will be issued to reconvene the

meeting at a later date.

3.10. If at any time during the meeting it ceases to be quorate then the meeting will be

adjourned and any further business carried forward to the meeting when next


3.11. Voting at the meeting shall be by a show of hands unless a majority of Councillors

wants a ballot. Only the proposer and seconder will be recorded in the minutes

unless a Councillor requests that their vote is noted. A Councillor may also

request that the Clerk records how each Councillor has voted, including

abstentions. Any request of this nature will be made before moving on to the next


3.12. In cases of equal votes the Chairman (or other person presiding) will have a

second or casting vote.

3.13. A minute of the meeting will be kept by the Clerk or other nominated person in the

Clerk’s absence. The minutes which are circulated will be draft minutes until they

are approved by the Parish Council at their next meeting and signed by the person

presiding at that meeting.

3.14. With regard to planning applications – if there is a personal interest a statement

can be made to the Parish Council meeting but then the person must leave the

meeting while discussions take place.


3.15. Responsible Finance Office (RFO)

3.15.1.The Responsible Finance Officer is a statutory office and appointed by the

Council. The Clerk of the Council will take on this role of managing the Council’s

financial affairs in accordance with Proper Practices.

3.16. Estimates and Precept

3.16.1.The RFO will compile estimates of income and expenditure annually for the

Council’s consideration. The Council will review the budget not later than the

end of December in preparation for the precept being agreed, and submitted to

the Collection Authority in January. During the year the budget will be reviewed

against actual expenditure and income. Amendments to the budget will be

discussed in Council and changes minuted.

3.17. Income and Expenditure

3.17.1.The RFO will supply regular updates of income and expenditure throughout

the year and detail actual figures against estimate. Significant underspends or

overspends will be brought to the attention of the Council and action taken to

address any discrepancies. Underspent revenue will be identified and

earmarked to reserves by a Council resolution.

3.18. Accounting and Audit

3.18.1.The RFO will determine all accounting procedures and financial records of the

Council in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations.

3.18.2.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 and

will submit and report on them to the Council. The Council will review each year

and ensure that there is an adequate, effective system of internal audit of the

Council’s accounting, financial and other procedures in line with Proper


3.18.3.An Internal Auditor will be appointed by the Council to carry out the work

required to comply with the Proper Practice. The person appointed will be

competent and independent of the operation of the Council.

3.18.4.The RFO will submit the Annual Return to the External Auditor by the due

date, ensuring the return is complete.

3.19. Banking Arrangements and Cheques

3.19.1.The Council’s banking arrangements, including the Bank Mandate, will be

made by the RFO and approved by the Council. They will be regularly reviewed

for efficiency.

3.19.2.A resolution of the Council will nominate at least three members to be

authorised by the Council to sign cheques.

3.19.3.All items of expenditure will be authorised by the Council and the payments

approved. The RFO will examine invoices and verify and certify the expenditure.

Cheques will be completed for all transactions and signed by two authorised


3.19.4.Any utility bill may be paid by Direct Debit provided that the instructions are

signed by two authorised Councillors.

3.20. Loans and Investments

3.20.1.All loans and investments will be negotiated in the name of the Council and

will be set for a period approved by the Council.

3.20.2.All borrowings will be in the name of the Council and will not be entered into

until necessary approvals have been given. Any application will be approved by

Council, especially the terms and purpose. These terms must be reviewed


3.20.3.All investments of money under the control of the Council will be in the name

of the Council and all certificates or other documents will be retained by the


3.21. Contracts and Purchase Orders

3.21.1.An official order or letter will be issued for all work or service paid for by the

Council. All Councillors and officers are responsible for obtaining good value for

money at all times. An officer placing an order on behalf of the Council will

ensure that good value and appropriate terms are obtained for the transaction.

3.21.2.Orders for values £500 to £2000 require a minimum of two quotations; for

values above £2000 three quotations are required. Contracts exceeding

£50,000 require additional safeguards and will follow Proper Practice.

3.21.3.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


3.22. Assets

3.22.1.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.

3.23. VAT

3.23.1.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 coinciding with the financial year.

  1. Insurance

4.1. 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


  1. Risk Assessment

5.1. A risk assessment will be undertaken annually of all the activities of the Council

and a report approved by the Council. This assessment will also cover the

appropriateness of the internal audit arrangements. The Risk Assessment will be

reviewed annually.

5.2. If the Council undertakes a new activity not covered by the existing risk

assessment an assessment will be undertaken before the activity commences.

  1. Freedom of Information

6.1. 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


  1. Clerk to the Council

7.1. The Council may appoint a number of employees to assist it in the performance of

its duties. The Council will appoint a Clerk to the Council which will be on an

employed basis, unless the Clerk is a member of the Council, acting in an unpaid


7.2. The Clerk will act as the Proper Officer of the Council, and he/she will: receive the

Declarations of Acceptance of Office and notices disclosing interests; sign

documents on behalf of the Council and issue agendas and notices of meetings;

receive and distribute plans and documents on behalf of the Council; and also

advise the bank of changes to mandates with the bank.

7.3. The Clerk will act as Responsible Financial Officer or be responsible for managing

a Finance Officer or other employees of the Council.

7.4. As an employee of the Council the Clerk is covered by employment legislation

dealing with employment rights, discrimination in employment, unfair dismissal,

redundancy and similar matters. The Clerk will therefore have a contract of

employment stating the terms and conditions under which he/she is employed.

This will effectively be administered by the Chairman or designated Councillor

acting with the authority of the Council.

  1. Committees and task and finish groups

8.1. The Council from time to time may set up committees and task-and-finish groups

to undertake work on behalf of the Council. The Council will set their Terms of

reference, and they will report periodically to the Council.

  1. Emergency Business

9.1. 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.

  1. Alteration or Reversal of previous decisions

10.1. Decisions of the Council will not be revised within 4 months, except where a

special item is placed on the agenda bearing the name of two Councillors, and is

considered and approved by the Council.

    11. Complaints

11.1 The following procedure will be adopted for dealing with complaints about the
Council’s administration or its procedures. Complaints about a policy decision
made by the Council will be referred back to the Council, or relevant
Committee, as appropriate, for consideration.

11.2. This procedure does not cover complaints about the conduct of a Member of
the Parish Council.

11.3. If a complaint about procedures, administration or the actions of any of the
Council’s employees is notified orally to a Councillor, or to the Clerk to the
Council, a written record of the complaint will be made, noting the name and
contact details of the complainant and the nature of the complaint.

11.4. The complainant will be asked to put the complaint in writing (letter/email/standard form)  to the Clerk to the Council at the address shown under the contacts heading on the home page. 
The complaint will be dealt with within XX days of receipt. (specify time e.g. 14
or 21 days). Refusal to put the complaint in writing does not necessarily mean
that the complaint cannot be investigated, but it is easier to deal with if it is in

115. If the complainant prefers not to put the complaint to the Clerk to the Council
(because the matter relates to the Clerk, for example,) he or she should be
advised to write to the Chair.

11.6. (a) On receipt of a written complaint, the Clerk to the Council (except where the
complainant is about his or her own actions) or Chair of Council (if the
complaint relates to the Clerk), will seek to settle the complaint directly with the
complainant. This will not be done without first notifying any person complained
about and giving him or her an opportunity to comment. Efforts should be
made to resolve the complaint at this stage.
(b) Where the Clerk to the Council or a Councillor receives a written complaint
about the Clerk’s actions, he or she shall refer the complaint to the Chair of
Council. The Clerk to the Council will be formally advised of the matter and
given an opportunity to comment.

11.7. The Clerk to the Council (or Chair) will report any complaint disposed of by
direct action with the complainant to the next meeting of the Council.

11.8. The Clerk to the Council (or Chair) will report any complaint that has not been
resolved to the next meeting of the Council. The Clerk will notify the
complainant of the date on which the complaint will be considered and the
complainant will be offered an opportunity to explain the complaint to the
Council orally.

11.9. Matters relating to Grievance or Disciplinary proceedings that are taking, or are
likely to take place, should be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s
grievance and disciplinary procedures.

11.10. The Council may consider whether the circumstances of any complaint warrant
the matter being discussed in the absence of the press and public, but any
decision on the complaint will be announced at the Council meeting in public.

11.11 The Council may consider in the circumstances of any particular complaint
whether to make any without liability payment or provide other reasonable
benefit to any person who has suffered loss as a result of the Council’s
maladministration. Any payment may only be authorised by the Council after
obtaining legal advice and advice from the Council’s auditor on the propriety of
such a payment.

11.12. As soon as possible after the decision has been made (and in any event not
later than 10 days after the meeting) the complainant will be notified in writing of
the decision and any action to be taken.

11.13. The Council may defer dealing with any complaint if it is of the opinion that
issues arise on which further advice is necessary. The advice will be
considered and the complaint dealt with at the next meeting after the advice
has been received.

    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 Chairman’s decision as to the

interpretation of the standing orders will be final. In cases of doubt, the Council will

seek the advice of the Avon Local Councils Association (ALCA).

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.

These Standing Orders were adopted by the Parish Council at a meeting of the Council held