Raunds Town Council held a meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday 12 June and Raunds Town Voice creator, Mike Turner popped along with a camera to capture the conversation [scroll down for the videos].
Mike says: “I’ve continually felt that it is important that the people of Raunds have transparency provided on Town Council activities. I have tried to aid in this process by assisting in the promotion of information, agendas and minutes where possible but I feel that there is still some work to do.
One of the issues that I have raised to the Council is that the agendas are not published with the same, full reference information / reports that Councillors receive. There are council policies which state that members of the public can only provide their feedback relating to an agenda item ahead of the meeting, however, I do not feel that this is always possible, and like most things, the devil is in the detail. If we don’t have the detail, how can people provide their input? I also feel that there are some inconsistencies regarding required timing of the publishing of agendas and the timing to have your say
There is often criticism of some of the decisions made by the town council and the argument that people can attend meetings and provide their input only works if there is a transparent, fair and timely process that enables this to happen and for at least me to feel that everyone had the chance to provide their input.
In attendance at the meeting we were provided with the agendas but not the associated reports that were being reviewed within the meeting and this, for me personally, made some agenda items difficult to follow.
A simple example of this can be seen in the agenda item to review a request for an Ice Cream van / pod which states ‘information herewith’. As you’ll see from the video, we can see that decisions were made quickly but I still didn’t understand the detail behind the proposal. Was it a pod or a van? What is the definition of ‘regularly situated’? Where would it be located? – even in attendance of the meeting I didn’t have that clarity.
In my view, there are clear and identifiable improvements in transparency required. These seem to stem from a lack of inclusion of town/parish councils in the Localism Act or Local Government Act 1972 (Part VA -> Section 100B). Such legislation requires ‘local government’ which only includes larger councils such as Wellingborough / Kettering to provide greater levels of transparency, meaning that every report has to be published on line in good notice ahead of the meetings taking place. Because Raunds is classified as a Parish Council, there is no government legislation which obliges our town council to follow the same guidelines.
I am in discussion with MP Tom Pursglove to look at whether the issues I see within Raunds span much wider across the country and whether this is something that needs to be taken to parliament. From what I can see, the issue isn’t limited to Raunds, but also to other areas such as Rushden.
While such issues continue to be focused on, I thought it would be great if we could actually share the full contents of the meetings and the good work that goes into these meetings rather than a watered down version in the form of summarised outcomes; so I went down to the meeting armed with the camera to film and share it with the local community. After all, with the 16 or so public seats in the room, it is not possible for larger volumes of the town to be there to have their say”
Mikes concerns have been put forward to the Town Council and the request to review reports being shared was covered in a recent agenda item (628.17). The latest update provided by the Town Council was:
“With regard to agenda item 628.17 the members of the council have referred this to the Policy and Resources Committee to draft a policy for consideration. I realise that this delays the matter, but it is important that this is reviewed carefully. Your query and the agenda item will certainly ensure that members consider the matter”
All videos of each agenda item can be found below. Let us know in the comments whether this is something you would like to see more of
93.18 Committee report: To receive the report of the Environment Leisure and Recreation Committee held 22 May 2018
94.18 Committee report: To receive the report of the Events Committee 30 May 2018
Additional Point: Handling of Marshalls Road Closure for Events
Additional Point: Use of tribute bands at Town Council Events
95.18 Committee report: To receive the report of the Planning Committee 31 May 2018
96.18 Committe report: To receive the report of the Finance and Policy Committee 7 June 2018
97.18 District Councillors Report
98.18 County Councillors Report
99.18 Town Mayors Announcements
100.18 Annual Accounts: To approve the annual accounts for the year ended 31 March 2018
101.18: The Annual Return
102.18: Accounts for payment: To receive the payments lists
103.18 The Market Square/Marshall Road car park:
a) Air Ambulance Clothing Recycling Bin: to consider a request from Air Ambulance for a clothing recycling bin to be located on the market square
b) Beach on The Square: to consider the creation of a “beach on the Square” for the summer
c) Ice cream van: to consider a request for an ice cream and refreshment pod to be regularly situated on The Square
d) Marshalls Road carpark: to consider the removal of the height restriction barrier
104.18 Local Government Reform: To consider the information from East Northamptonshire Council regarding the reorganisation of local government in Northamptonshire
[battery change point but only a very short discussion here – wait for the official minutes]
105.18 Pathfinder Meeting: To consider any further actions required following the recent Pathfinder meeting
106.18 Annual Report: to consider the Annual Report and to delegate to the Clerk in consultation with the Mayor the preperation and distribution of the final print version
[was not ready for review and deferred]
107.18 Dropped Kerb Bassfords Recreation Ground: to consider modifying the dropped kerb at Bassford Recreation ground
108.18 Raunds Business Forum: to consider a request from Raunds Business forum for free use of Saxon Hall for monthly meetings
109.18 St Peters Churchyard: to consider correspondence from a resident regarding a tree St Peters Churchyard
110.18 Communications: to consider the publication of regular council and civic updates in the Raunds Round up
111.18 Raunds Library:
a) To receive an update from Raunds Library Management Group