Bryneglwys Community Council
What is a community council?
A community council is a voluntary organisation set up by statute by the local authority and run by local residents to act on behalf of its area. As the most local tier of elected representation, community councils play an important role in local democracy. They are responsible to their local electorates for delivering a wide range of services and for the provision and upkeep of local amenities.
Each council is made up of elected members, or in some cases co-opted members. In Wales there are approximately 8,000 community and town councillors, who represent the interests of the community they serve as a whole. They are recognised as having a role in providing the voice of the citizen in the development and delivery of public services in Wales.
As well as representing the community to the local authority, community councils facilitate a wide range of activities which promote the well-being of their communities. They bring local people together to help make things happen, and many community councils protect and promote the identity of their community. They advise, petition, influence and advocate numerous causes and cases of concern on behalf of local communities.
The job of the council is to represent the interests of the whole community – and to represent the interests of different parts of the community equally. Examples of the work of community councils across the country are:
- Carry out projects to enhance their community for all types of citizens.
- Issue community newsletters.
- Conduct local surveys.
- Campaign on local issues.
- Organise community events.
What are the benefits of a community council?
- Local Responsiveness: Community councils can be more responsive than higher tier authorities to community needs and interests, and to the diversity of interests and needs within a community.
- Representation of Local Interests: Community councils have a responsibility for a single community and can therefore act as a vehicle for the representation of local interests to external bodies.
- Mobilisation of Community Activity: Community councils can organise and sponsor community events and promote community spirit and inclusiveness. Collectively councils donate over £1m in grants to community groups, sports clubs, charities and other voluntary sector organisations each year – funds that are not available without councils.
- Extra Support: Community councils have the flexibility to enhance service provision in the community, or to provide additional services, facilities or even simple features such as floral displays, that may lie outside the principal councils’ budgetary priorities.
- Accountability: Community councillors are accountable to the local electorate and may be removed at election time. Furthermore, they are accountable to the whole community and therefore have an incentive to engage with and represent all sectors of the community.
- Stability and Continuity: The statutory constitution of community councils means that they can plan on a long-term basis and have more capacity to take on larger-scale projects than non-statutory associations.
- Tax-raising Powers: The ability of community councils to precept/regulate the council tax is one of their most significant powers, leading to a relative stability of income for reinvestment in the community for communal benefit.
- Promotion of Public Service: Participation as a community councillor engages an individual in public service in local government. Community councils can provide a ‘training ground’ for individuals who may subsequently progress to serve as county councillors, or to stand for higher political office.
What must a community council do?
Aside from appointing the required officers and an auditor, a community council must, by law:
- if its budget is £200,000 or more, take reasonable steps towards meeting the objectives in the local well-being plan that has effect in its area and publish an annual report to show its progress towards meeting these objectives;
- provide allotments if the council considers that there is demand for them from local residents and it is reasonable to do so;
- comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998, and with employment law;
- consider the impact of their decisions on reducing crime and disorder in their area;
- seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity in carrying out their functions;
- have a publication scheme to demonstrate what information is available and how it is made accessible to the public;
- demonstrate that they have identified and managed the risks to public money arising from their work;
- keep records of all decisions related to council business (the minutes);
- hold an Annual Meeting of the Council in May or shortly after the local council elections.
What information should a community council publish?
The Information Commission’s Office (ICO) explains the following…
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) provides public access to information held by public authorities - including community councils. Community councils must publish a list of the main information they hold within their public task. This should include both published and unpublished information.
The FOI Act is designed to increase transparency. Members of the public should be able to routinely access information that is in the public interest and is safe to disclose. Also, without the publication scheme, members of the public may not know what information is available. People should be able to access this information directly on the web, or receive it promptly and automatically whenever they ask. A website is the easiest way for most people to access the information, so the scheme recommends that information should be on a website wherever possible. Where information is not available online, community councils must still list the information and give contact details so people can make a request to see it. Such information should be provided promptly on request, and also be made available for people who lack access to the internet.
There follows details of the information that should be provided by community/town councils in Wales under the model publication scheme…
Class 1 - Who the council is and what it does
i.e. organisational information, structures, locations and contacts - current information only. Councils should publish as much information as possible about how they can be contacted.
- Who’s who on the council and its committees.
- Contact details for clerk and council members (with telephone number and email address if used).
- Location of main council office and accessibility details.
- Staffing structure.
Class 2 – What it spends and how it spends it
i.e. financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, procurement, contracts and financial audit - current and previous financial year as a minimum.
- Annual return form and report by auditor.
- Finalised budget.
- Borrowing approval letter.
- Financial standing orders and regulations.
- Grants given and received.
- List of current contracts awarded and value of contract.
- Members’ allowances and expenses.
Class 3 – What its priorities are and how it is doing
i.e. strategies and plans, performance indicators, audits, inspections and reviews - current and previous year as a minimum.
- Community Plan.
- Annual Report.
- Local charters drawn up in accordance with WG and WLGA guidelines.
Class 4 – How it makes decisions
i.e. decision making processes and records of decisions - current and previous council year as a minimum.
- Timetable of meetings (council and any committee/sub-committee meetings and community meetings).
- Agendas of meetings (as above).
- Minutes of meetings (as above) n.b. to exclude info that is properly regarded as private to the meeting.
- Reports presented to council meetings n.b. to exclude info that is properly regarded as private to the meeting.
- Responses to consultation papers.
- Responses to planning applications.
Class 5 – Its policies and procedures
i.e. current written protocols, policies and procedures for delivering services and responsibilities - current information only.
- Policies and procedures for the conduct of council business:
- Procedural standing orders.
- Committee and sub-committee terms of reference.
- Delegated authority in respect of officers.
- Code of Conduct.
- Policy statements.
- Policies and procedures for the provision of services and about the employment of staff:
- Internal policies relating to the delivery of services.
- Equality and diversity policy.
- Health and safety policy.
- Recruitment policies (including current vacancies).
- Policies and procedures for handling requests for information.
- Complaints procedures (including those covering requests for information and operating the publication scheme).
- Information security policy.
- Records management policies (records retention, destruction and archive).
- Data protection policies.
- Schedule of charges for the publication of information.
Class 6 – Its lists and registers
Currently maintained lists and registers only.
- Any publicly available register or list.
- Assets register.
- Disclosure log indicating the information that has been provided in response to requests n.b. recommended as good practice.
- Register of members’ interests.
- Register of gifts and hospitality.
Class 7 – Services it offers
i.e. information about services offered, including leaflets, guidance and newsletters produced for the public and businesses - current information only.
- Burial grounds and closed churchyards.
- Community centres and village halls.
- Parks, playing fields and recreational facilities.
- Seating, litter bins, clocks, memorials and lighting.
- Bus shelters.
- Public conveniences.
- Agency agreements.
- Services for which the council is entitled to recover a fee, together with those fees e.g. burial fees.
- Information that is not itemised in the lists above.
Can I attend Bryneglwys Community Council meetings?
From The Good Councillor’s Guide : "Council meetings are formal events, not social occasions. They have a clear purpose – to make decisions following appropriate, focused debate. Furthermore, they are public events; the press and public have a right to observe how the council operates. Exceptions are when sensitive issues are discussed (such as legal, contractual or personal matters) and then the council can agree to exclude the press and public for just those items. Public participation is encouraged. This does not mean that members of the public take part in debate, but it is good practice to encourage them to express their views or ask questions under a specially designed agenda item during the meeting."
From Governance and Accountability for Local Councils in Wales: "Council meetings must be open to the public and press. They can only be excluded by a council resolution for a particular occasion. They should only be excluded if the confidential nature of the business would prejudice the public interest.”
Can I ask to see the Bryneglwys Community Council accounts?
From Community Council Money by the Wales Audit Office: "Seeing it's been done right - Members of the public and council tax payers will want to see that their council has done the right things to manage their community money effectively. The law allows the public to inspect the council's annual accounts and accounting records before the external audit. The public can also ask questions of the auditor and make an objection to something in the accounts if they wish to."
Who are the Bryneglwys community councillors?
- Siân E Thomas - Elected Councillor (Chairperson)
Address: Blaen Ial, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450342 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Paul J E Anyon - Elected Councillor
Address: 4 Bryn Refail, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450388 Email: email@example.com
- Richard Davies - Elected Councillor
Address: Ty Gwyn, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450281 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andrea Choudhurry - Elected Councillor
Address: 1 Llys Ial, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450315 Email: email@example.com
- Sharon M Baines - Elected Councillor
Address: Bryn Eithin, Cae Du, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 412234 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anita Bailey - Co-opted Councillor
Address: 8 Maes Y Fedwen, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450273 Email: email@example.com
- David M Davies - Co-opted Councillor
Address: Mynyddllanfair, Bryneglwys
Tel: 07785 263698 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Clerk: Nia Roberts
Address: Bryn-Llan, Bryneglwys
Tel: 01490 450258 Email: email@example.com