Committees, Working Groups and Advisory Groups (ROUGH DRAFT)

Committees & Working Groups
Role of Committees
The Parish Council has a main council committee. That can delegate some of its statutory functions (responsibilities assigned to a parish council in legislation) to one or more committees. These may in turn have sub-committees. If there’s a specific task focussed activity then Working Groups may be setup.

Parish Council meetings are led by the Council’s (or committee) Chair (see ‘Role of a Chair‘ for details of what they do) and advised by a Clerk who is there to see that business is conducted within the law on how parish councils are run.

The key difference is that a Committee (or sub-committee) comprises members of the council whilst a Working Group can include other individuals. Any committee/sub-committee must hold regular open sessions, at which members of the public can speak.

Unlike Committees and Sub-Committees, Working Groups cannot have delegated responsibilities and do not have to be open to the public, however, they do have to abide by certain Parish Council Policies – See Working Group Protocol. Their findings and recommendations must be minuted and a report submitted to the Committee to whom the council has decided they report. These reports are then discussed at Committee level before being recommended to Main Council. The Council or the Committee can send report back to the Sub-Committee / Working Group requesting more information or clarification before accepting or rejecting the report and its contents.

When are Committees held?
There’s a published schedule of meetings, these are usually advertised by the via the Chair, on village Facebook group, and on the website.

Attending a Committee / Working Group
All committee/sub-committee meetings are open to the public and there is a forum before the start of the meeting at which members of the public can raise concerns and ask questions. There is also an annual meeting which all parishioners are invited to attend. All meetings are advertised on the council notice boards, on the web site and typically on village social media groups. Residents can bring to the attention of the parish council anything that concerns them, either directly or though the clerk. If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.

Representation on Parish Council Committees and Working Groups
All Councillors are required to attend the Main Council meetings. They may also work on other sub-committees and working groups – see table below. Representation is proposed and voted on at the annual meeting – the latest one being May 2023. Working Groups may involve members of the public. All Terms of Reference for all committees and working groups are published in a single pdf document. This is approved by the full Council at its annual meeting – the latest one being May 2023.

This needs to show who is on each committee / working group, the terms of reference for each of those groups, and an explanation about the difference between committee and working group would be useful. The “terms of reference” is simply an outline of the task(s) or project(s) to be undertaken by a working group or committee.

Working groups are not constituted as committees, therefore legally, they do not have the power to make decisions or spend money. Instead working groups act in a purely advisory role. A better name might be “Advisory Committee”.

Here’s a suggestion from

  1. The Council may, at its annual meeting, appoint standing Committees, Working or Advisory Groups and may at any other time appoint such other Committees, Working or Advisory Groups as may be necessary.
  2. The main responsibilities of Committees/ Working/Advisory Groups are to analyze problems and prepare/ propose courses of action to the Council for final decisions and approval. The role of the Committee/Group Leader is to take the initiative when action is required, schedule meetings and lead the process of making a recommendation for action/ approval to the Council
  3. The Council:
    • i. shall determine the terms of reference of the Committees/ Working/ Advisory Groups (Note: Committees may be given delegated authority to act without reference to the Council. Working Groups and Advisory Groups are purely advisory bodies and have no delegated authority to act without reference to the Council).
    • ii. may permit Committees or Working Groups to determine the dates of their meetings;
    • iii. shall appoint and determine the term of office of Councillor or non-Councillor members of such a Committee or Working Group (unless the appointment of non-Councillors is prohibited by law) so as to hold office no later than the next annual meeting;
    • iv. may in accordance with standing orders, dissolve a Committee or Working Group at any time
    • v. appoint the Chairman (and Vice Chairman if there is one) to be members of all Committees
    • vi. ensure that committees and working groups should comprise of a majority of Councillors.