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Attendance by Members and Officers at meetings of Outside Bodies

Guidance for members and officers attending meetings of outside bodies, detailing approval requirements.

Outside body with member appointment - routine meetings

Attendance by a member at a routine meeting of an outside body to which s/he is appointed by the council is covered by the appointment itself. No additional committee approval or authority is needed.

Outside body with member appointment - other meetings and events

Attendance by a member at a non-routine meeting of an outside body to which s/he is appointed is not covered automatically by the appointment. Examples are COSLA's annual conference, and training or awards events arranged by the outside body. Committee approval is required.

Outside body with no member appointment - all meetings and events

Attendance by a member at a meeting or an event or a conference organised by an outside body to which there is no council appointment at all requires committee approval.

Substitutes at outside body meetings and events

Where the necessary authority exists for a member to attend, a substitute may attend in place of the approved member, so long as the rules of the outside body permit it. That applies to all types of meetings and events, routine or otherwise.

Securing committee approval

If committee approval is required, a covering report prepared by officers should be submitted to committee containing enough information to allow an informed decision to be made, in particular:

  • The name of the outside body and what its role and function are
  • The nature of the event or meeting
  • The estimated cost to the council in terms of enrolment and accommodation costs
  • Attaching as an appendix a brochure or similar information sheet, where available

Ideally, any approval of attendance by the committee should contain the names of the members authorised to attend, but it is acceptable for the number of members to be fixed, with names to follow later.

It is possible for SO31 to be used in appropriate and urgent cases, but the lead-in time for these events should be sufficient in almost all cases to allow a report to be considered at committee.

Consequences of not securing approval

A member attending such an event will not have authority to do so from the council, and cannot be said to be representing the council.

A member attending such an event will not be entitled to recover expenses incurred in attending, since attendance will not qualify as an "approved duty".

Officers

Approval for the attendance of officers at such events is given by senior officers through the Scheme of Delegation to Officers and there is no need for committee approval. Those decisions have to be taken in accordance with council policy and any restrictions imposed internally by management.