SALC Newsletter 4th September 2023

NALC consultation to update Model Financial Regulations

NALC is working with The Parkinson Partnership LLP to update its 2019 Model Financial Regulations for England and Wales.

NALC is seeking views on the technical aspects of the regulations, which will inform the revisions. The consultation will not result in any changes to existing legislation.

NALC would like your informed opinions on 10 matters including the adequateness of description of budget preparation, what changes are needed to manage procurement, which regulations create challenges for transparency or protecting personal and commercially sensitive data, what, if anything, should be removed from the model regulations and why.

To submit your views, please complete the form by 5 November 2023.

The existing version of the 2019 Model Financial Regulations for England and Wales can be downloaded from the members’ area on the SALC website.


Has your council considered a domain?

In SALC’s August newsletter we touched upon issues of local council websites and email addresses, noting that it’s best practice is for a parish council to have a secure website entirely under its control.

The Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) is now undertaking new research with the aim of identifying barriers that prevent parish & town councils adopting a secure domain. The CDDO intends to launch a new Small Organisation Helper Service to better help parish councils successfully adopt a domain.

As part of its research, the CDDO has created a short survey and would be grateful to hear from you if:

  • Your parish council has decided not to transition to the domain, or
  • You would like to transition to the environment but the parish council is reluctant to do so.


Exclusion of press & public from council meetings

The SALC office has received a few enquires recently seeking advice on how the council should to treat confidential items requiring a resolution. We have outlined below the answers to some of the questions we often receive. 
Q            Must all council meetings be open to the public?

Parish & town councils are public bodies that in most circumstances must conduct their business at a meeting open to the press and public. The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 gives members of the press and public a legal right to attend meetings of the full council and committees. There is no statutory public right of attendance at sub-committee meetings (see your standing orders or terms of reference for your council’s rules).

Q            Under what circumstances can the press & public be excluded?

There are limited circumstances when it might be necessary to exclude members of the press and public due to the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons stated in the resolution. These fall into three broad categories: 1. Sensitive personal data, 2. Legal disputes and certain complaints, 3. Commercially sensitive information. Please note that if an item does not fall into the three categories, the fact that it might present a potentially awkward or embarrassing discussion at a meeting will not be enough to justify excluding the press and public.

It might be that a matter for discussion is only confidential in part. In this case, the agenda should separate out related elements of the subject to ensure there is an open discussion of the part that is in the public interest, another item to exclude members of the press and public, and a further item to discuss the confidential elements of the matter.

Removing the legal right of the press and public to attend and observe a meeting should be taken as a last resort when proceeding in public would be lawfully impossible.

Q            Can a chairperson alone decide to exclude the press & public?

The decision to exclude members of the press and public is made by resolution of the meeting. No individual, including the chairperson, has the power to take the decision alone. The motion to exclude must be proposed, seconded, and voted on in the usual way.

Q            Can we withhold confidential minutes and reports?

Resolutions relating to confidential items must be recorded in the minutes and minutes of a meeting must be made publicly available. However, the form of words used in the minutes must not disclose or undermine the confidential or otherwise sensitive information. The resolution to exclude does not need to record the precise legal reason why the press & public were excluded.

Confidentiality normally has an expiry date, which means that written reports can be withheld/ redacted for as long as that confidential status legitimately lasts. Once an item can no longer legitimately be considered confidential, reports should be available under the council’s publication scheme like any other item. Councillors are advised to continue to treat confidential information as confidential until the clerk formally confirms (in writing) that the confidential status no longer applies.

Q            Can we get help in identifying whether business is confidential?

If there is any doubt about whether or not an item is confidential and whether it should be transacted in the absence of the press and public, the clerk should contact SALC and we will be pleased to advise.

If you are a new officer or councillor, or if you just need a reminder of the rules and processes that apply in our sector, SALC offers basic and more advanced training and a host of resources in the members’ Knowledge Hub of the website. 


D-DAY 80, 6th June 2024 – Letter to Clerks

6 June 2024 marks the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and parish and town councils are encouraged to take part by lighting a beacon to represent the ‘light of peace’ that emerged from the darkness of war.

A letter to town and parish clerks from the King’s Pageantmaster, Bruno Peek, has been published on the SALC website.  


Tackling climate action in our communities

As part of the Adapting the Levels project, Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) recently produced a Climate Adaptation Toolkit, designed to support town and parish councils to take action to adapt to the local impacts of climate change.

Somerset Wildlife Trust sent a printed copy to town and parish councils and parish meetings in June, but recently discovered a number of councils were missing from their address list. 

If your council or meeting didn’t receive a Climate Adaptation Toolkit, and would like a printed copy, please contact Jack Bedford, SWT’s Climate Adaptation Officer: 


Come and meet us at Somerset Prepared on 5th October

SALC will be represented at the Somerset Prepared Community Resilience Day taking place on 5th October 10am – 4pm at Wincanton Racecourse, BA9 8BJ. 

The day will be packed with a range of workshops on matters of community resilience, along with the Community Resilience Awards. You can celebrate the heroes in your community and make sure their efforts are acknowledged through a nomination – the form can be found here. 

Look out for us next to the SALC banner where we will be pleased to catch up with you in person and to talk through our services and any issues or needs in your council.  

Book your free tickets.

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