Debate

Hedon Town Council – Debate over availability of council minutes

HEDON Town Council keeps an official record of each of its formal meetings, this record is known as the “minutes” of a meeting. Typically, the council minutes will list who was present, the issues under discussion and the actions taken (if any) on each of those issues. They record decisions taken by council members collectively, not what was said by its individual members.

Hedon Town Council Noticeboard snip

Council Noticeboard – there are two of these outside the Town Hall

Hedon Town Council is a public body spending public monies, so minutes of meetings – as public records of decisions taken – are essential documents. Theoretically, the minutes of meetings are not official until they are formally approved by the members present at the next meeting. However, most decisions taken at a meeting are usually acted upon as if they were approved because to do otherwise would not be practical.

At the last public participation meeting of the council held in October 2014, former town councillor Jim Lindop who is still a regular attendee at the meetings as a member of the public, asked about availability of minutes of meetings and whether these should be displayed in public in the Town Hall council noticeboards.

Currently approved minutes of meetings are available to view on the council’s website, can be viewed by request via appointment with the council, or copies can be made via printing them off from the website or asking the council to print a set (costs would apply).

Jim Lindop pointed out that not everyone is on the internet or would know where to find copies. Therefore Jim asked if these important documents should be displayed in public in the same way that agendas are? Currently agendas – which list the business to be discussed and also serve as a formal public notice of the meeting – are pinned up in the council noticeboards outside the Town Hall. So why not the minutes too?

The issue was discussed by the council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee on Thursday 27th November and some practical implications were raised regarding displaying minutes on the Town Council noticeboards. As the photo shows, the two noticeboards outside of the Town Hall between them contain enough room to display eight A4 sheets of paper. Whilst agendas rarely run over two pages, minutes of meetings can be several pages long. So to display minutes regularly in the noticeboards would dominate them (and perhaps at the expense of the meeting agendas and public notices of council meetings?).

Mr Jim Uney in his Hedon Blog comments suggests the council should erect some larger noticeboards capable of displaying the minutes – but notwithstanding any costs associated with this – it might be argued that if the council were to erect larger noticeboards, local residents would rather see other information of public value in them rather than minutes of meetings – they may be essential documents but not the most riveting of reads!? The success of the council’s Community Noticeboard in Market Place results precisely because it contains information of general community interest.

As a councillor Jim Lindop used to provide council information (his own personal notes from its meetings) on the Hedon Blog. In this he was a pioneer in helping to bring essential council business information in an accessible format to a new and wider audience.  What he did for an internet audience – Jim might hope to do for the wider population who are not connected to the internet. There is a difference, however; as a councillor Jim hoped to convey basic information on what the council was discussing regularly – currently his starting point is that he believes the council is not being as open or as honest as it should be.

So what is a solution to the issue of making minutes available and ensuring that the council is seen to be transparent and open about its decision-making?

It has been suggested that the noticeboard contains a statement saying that approved minutes are available on request; that copies to view are made available in Hedon Library (and perhaps at the Customer Service Centre at New Road). There is also some mileage in having a ‘issues list’ published regularly in the noticeboard, displaying the current ‘live’ issues the council is discussing i.e. parking, Horsewell Pond, dog fouling, with an appeal to find out further information by attending meetings, reading minutes, etc?

Have you got ideas or opinions on this? Leave a comment, share your views.

For those Blog readers seeking copies of minutes of Hedon Town Council meetings, visit the relevant page on its website.

Visit: Hedon Town Council – Agendas & Minutes 

7 replies »

  1. The council have finally managed to put a notice in the Town hall saying the minutes can be seen but you have to go into the town hall and ask to see them, but this can only be done when its open 3 days a week, none are available in the public library or the customer service centre.
    Their website shows the agendas out of date and the same with the minutes, town council 23rd Oct, planning 9th Oct, finance 25th sept, property11th sept, yet they had four meetings since then two in Nov two in Dec, the website is totally out of date and not fit for purpose.
    All of this keeps the public in the dark with no knowledge of what the council are up too.

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    • The Hedon Town Council website is woeful. You don’t have to pay megabucks to set up a website and these days you could get away with just running a Facebook page to keep people up to date.

      The problem lies in the fact that those on the council are too old and are out of touch. Let’s hope we get some new blood standing in the next election.

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  2. In his 4th of December article on the display capabilities of the Hedon Town Council Notice board, Mr Editor omits to mention that the notice board is presently subjected to the display of other notices which can be argued as not being strictly of Town Council matters.

    On Monday the 8th of December, two of the A4 sized documents were promoting the sale of The Hedon Badge in aid of The Lord Mayors, undeniably worthwhile, chosen charity fund,

    One sheet was for complaints to Yorkshire Water, another one was advertising a Panto in The Legion Club, while the other four sheets were poorly presented copies of Hedon Town Council meeting agendas.

    Showing a default sized border, with other large amounts of vacant space, (See Mr Editors photograph of the notice board on his original article), there was more space than actual text displayed.
    Taking a lead from the titled heading on the actual boards, I am of the impression that they were erected for the posting of Council Matters, for the benefit of interested Hedon residents who are probably unable to attend meetings.

    Without having cramped documents, I feel that with a few adjustments to the format , a more user friendly version of Hedon Town Council Minutes than the one published on the internet could be produced (These could be more riveting Mr Editor) and could be posted in the notice boards if other public notices were posted in The Community Notice Board (when the Christmas tree is removed) to fulfil Mr Jim Lindop and other interested people’s not too difficult request.
    Regards Jim Uney.

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  3. Steve the minutes are posted on the council web site but until recently they were not up to date, they are now, however the assistant town clerk does this function and she is leaving the post, so hopefully the new person in the post will keep them up to date, however I still believe the minutes in a notice board in Main street is the best way, as they would be on displayed the next day following a council meeting.

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  4. I agree the formal minutes don’t give much of a flavour of the discussions. But at least decisions are minuted for action.
    But why cant the minutes be posted on the Town Council’s webpage. Not everyone has internet access but the vast majority do now. And that would give much greater access than even the library.

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  5. All that is needed is the title of the meeting, the agenda heading then the information, you do not need what is at the top of all the minutes currently, Hedon Town Council, apologises for absence, minutes of the last meeting ect.
    Totally agree the minutes should be in the library as they used to be, and the customer service centre. Why not use the community notice board in the market place. There are 2 weeks between every meeting so I can see no reason why they cannot be displayed for at least a week before the agendas are posted. It was suggested that a notice would be placed in the notice board saying you could get to see the minutes on request, that was 2 weeks ago, they seem reluctant to be open and honest as Cllr Bryan said they are. The problem with minutes are that they don’t really show what was actually said, for example Cllr Black said Cllr Bryan and Storr should be reprimanded for carrying out a survey on parking on market hill without the Councils permission, I bet that will not be included in any minutes.

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