Summary of the Requirement of the Regulations
The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into force on 6th August 2014.
The intention of the Regulations is to strengthen local accountability by increasing transparency and enabling the scrutiny of public bodies by local people.
The Regulations cover the following three main topics:-
- Publishing Notices, Agendas, Documents and Minutes on the Internet;
- Filming and recording Council Meetings; and
- Publicising decisions made under delegated powers.
1. Publishing Notices, Agendas, Documents and Minutes
The Council already publishes notices, agendas, documents and minutes of all meetings elsewhere on the Council website.
2. Filming and Recording of Council Meetings
Information on public participation at Council meetings as well as on the filming and recording of Council meetings.
3. Publicising Decisions Made by Officers Under Delegated Powers
The Regulations requires a decision to be formally recorded and published if it would otherwise have been taken by a council, committee, sub-committee or a joint committee but has been delegated to an officer under:-
(a) A Specific Express Authorisation
This would cover formal and specific delegated authority to senior officers, for example for the Town Clerk to incur expenditure in the case of an emergency.
(b) A General Authorisation
This covers general delegated authority to senior officers to take decisions on behalf of the Council and where the effect of the decision is to:-
(i) Grant a Permission or Licence
For example to agree the terms of any lease or licence, variations of restrictive covenants, and granting of easements, way leaves or licences over council land.
(ii) Affect the Rights of an Individual
For example the termination of an allotment garden tenancy or an exclusion from a council facility.
(iii) Award a Contract or Incur Expenditure Which Materially Affects the Councils Financial Position.
The “material threshold” is a judgement to be made by individual councils and has been set at £5,000 by the Council.
Any officer making decisions such as those above must produce a written record of their decision as soon as reasonably practicable after the decision has been made and this record as well as any background papers must be made available for public inspection and retained for a prescribed period of time.
The council is not authorised or required to disclose or make available for inspection documents that contain confidential information.