< Open and accountable local government

The national rules(i) have been changed to make councils, including parish and town councilsi(ii), and other local government bodies such as fire and rescue authorities, more transparent and accountable to their local communities. A full list of bodies to which the rules apply is in annex A.

This plain English Guide(iii) gives practical information about what these new rules mean for members of the public attending meetings of local government bodies, including meetings of a body’s committees, sub-committees and any joint committees involving two or more bodies. The Guide also covers meetings of any council’s executive (i.e. the council’s cabinet(iv)), including any committees and sub-committees of the executive.

In particular, this Guide gives practical information about how members of the public can use modern technology and communication tools to report on meetings they are attending, and about how to access information on decisions taken by a body’s officers or individual members. This Guide will also help the public to know when they can attend meetings of local government bodies, and what documents and information are available to them. It should also help councillors and officers to comply with the new rules.

As the Guide explains, different rules apply to different meetings, particularly meetings of a parish council or parish meeting, and the meetings of a council’s executive, its committees or sub-committees.

  • Part 1 focuses on the use of various communication tools for reporting the proceedings of any meeting of a local government body which is open to the public.
  • Part 2 explains how the public can access meetings of a council’s executive, its committees and sub-committees, and records of executive decisions taken by individual members or officers.
  • Part 3 explains how the public can access all other meetings of a local government body, other than parish and town councils, and records of certain other decisions taken by officers.
  • Part 4 explains how the public can access meetings of parish and town councils, parish meetings and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, and records of certain decisions taken by those councils’ officers.
  • Part 5 focuses on other rights that the public have to access information.

This Guide now replaces the Guide titled “Your council – going to its meetings, seeing how it works” that the department issued in June 2013.

All footnotes are listed here.