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Statement from Staplehurst Parish Council

Following our Full Council Meeting on Monday, where the Council discussed and agreed a proposal for an Emergency Scheme of Delegation the Council wishes to clarify and confirm the situation.

On Monday a proposal was tabled to introduce a scheme of delegation as part of a plan for contingency management arrangements for the Council in the event that circumstances prevented the Council from carrying out its duties in a normal way.  Examples of when this might occur would be an increase in the severity or a serious outbreak of the pandemic; the death of a senior public figure during a period of mourning or should insufficient Councillors due to illness or otherwise be unable to attend a meeting.  The Council needs mechanisms to allow it to continue its work such as to pay its bills and contractors, staff etc and the normal mechanism for doing so is by delegating responsibilities in a controlled fashion to an officer of the council, normally the Clerk. 

Schemes of delegation are a standard way of operating and exist in many Parish and Town Councils within the country.  Many Parish Councils are currently operating under a scheme of delegation.

The necessity for having an emergency procedure has arisen due to the change in legislation last year that stopped Local Councils from being able to conduct business via a virtual meeting platform and they had to revert to face to face meetings.  The Government has confirmed that it would require primary legislation to allow Councils to continue using a virtual meeting platform and due to lack of space on the legislative timetable it has not yet introduced new legislation. 

In the absence of being legally able to conduct its business in a virtual meeting, Staplehurst Parish Council operated under an emergency scheme of delegation for the period 7th May 2021 – 28th June 2021, due to state of the pandemic during that period.  All decisions made during this time were and are published on the Council’s website.

At the meeting on Monday, Councillors carried out their statutory duty by discussing and debating a proposal to have in place emergency procedures if required.  In the subsequent discussions some concerns were expressed that only four Councillors would be needed to enact these emergency procedures. It was generally felt that the default position for all aspect of the procedures should be a majority of Councillors with a minimum of five if for any reason a majority could not be contacted or were not available. Councillors determined that a change to reflect this was necessary to the proposal and an amendment to incorporate this was agreed by a majority.  A further vote was taken to then approve the proposed document to include this amendment; this was also agreed by majority.  A final vote was taken to implement the scheme with effect from after the next planning committee; this was rejected by majority.  It was also noted that details in the proposal such as financial delegations could be amended by the Council. In addition, it was considered that steps could be explored to ensure transparency was retained through the use of technology.

The situation therefore is that the Council is operating as normal, and will be conducting meetings as normal.  The emergency scheme of delegation remains inactive but available for the Council to use in emergent situations, should the need arise. Councillors are aware of the need to maintain transparency and every effort would be made to ensure residents could be involved.

Councils only make decisions by collective responsibility as set out in the Local Government Act 1972 s101, which confirms that decisions can be made by committee, a sub-committee or an officer of the authority, where that authority has been appropriately delegated. The Council is therefore prudent to have in place a contingency management plan and its proposals meet their responsibilities in extraordinary circumstance.

13 January 2022

 

 

Staplehurst Parish Office

From Monday 13th December all staff will be working remotely.  The quickest way to contact staff and Councillors is via email – see details on the ‘Officers’ and ‘Parish Councillors’ pages of this website here Councillors & Officers

Staplehurst Parish Council Meetings

Parish Council meetings will be held on different days with Full Council meeting on one Monday and Planning Committee meeting on the following Monday. There will be no formal meeting on the third Monday.

The meetings will be held in the South Hall, Village Centre and commence at 7.30pm.  

Full Council Meetings on Monday : 31st January

Planning Committee Meetings on Monday :  7th February

Members of the public are welcome to attend.  If you wish to attend a meeting you can review the agenda and papers published here .

The hall will be set out to allow for social distancing  and windows and doors will be kept open throughout the meeting to assist ventilation.  

Unless exempt for medical reasons, we would like to request that  you wear a mask at all times, even when seated.  You may remove your mask  when speaking.  Please therefore bring a mask with you.

Should you prefer to submit a question or enquiry to the Council, rather than attend in person, please submit this to the via email to the Clerk  by 5.00pm on the Tuesday preceding the meeting.

All staff and Councillors are available via email; the links for email addresses can be found on the links below.

Link to view Staplehurst Parish Councillors

Link to view Staplehurst Parish Staff

Thank you for your patience during these trying times.  Please stay safe and follow the government’s guidance, available via the following link to the UK Gov website  : Government Corona Virus Guidance

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If you have any problems with this website please call the parish office on 01580 891761.