The following comment, received today, is typical of comments that have been sent in over the years about the minutes from time to time of our local New Mills town council.
Broadly speaking, these comments tend to be in the form of complaints:
'It is noted in the draft minutes that Cllr Ashton's admittance that he had received a phone call from the ex clerk's husband concerning David Lamb prior to the co-option process has not been minuted . The minutes are 31/7/15. Neither was the appalling behaviour of Cllr Atkins.'Cllr Atkins behaviour was not appalling. On the contrary, it was a wholly understandable response after years of having to sit in council meetings and watch as one particular councillor time and time again unreasonably hogs a grossly unfair amount of the limited speaking time available.*
As part of HPT's policy of increasing local knowledge about correct procedure and the rights and wrongs of council business , we print below what the authoritative textbook Local Council Administration** says about good local council minutes:
Minutes of proceedings of a council and its committees must be kept.(1)
They are intended to be formal records of official acts and decisions, not reports, still less verbatim reports, of the speeches made by councillors.
Minutes should, therefore, be as short as is consistent with clarity and accuracy. The arguments used in the discussion need be recorded only if the decision cannot be clearly expressed in any other way.
(1) Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, para 41 (1)
* This syndrome known locally as 'Give someone else a chance, Lance'
** The text about good council minutes is taken from paragraph 7.36 of Arnold-Baker on Local Council Administration, Ninth Edition