How Council Affairs are Governed

Governance


Walton-in-Gordano can have up to five Councillors; these are ideally elected every four years.  If, at election time, no more than five people are nominated for election, the nominees are deemed elected without an election actually taking place.  If there are fewer than five Councillors and the Council deems it appropriate, nominations can be canvassed for additional Council Members to be “co-opted’ by application for consideration by the Council at one of its meetings.  A co-opted member has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as an elected member: he or she serves until the next election falls due, and can then put themselves forward for re-election.

The Council operates under five pieces of Governance paperwork that each new member must comply with.  Upon election/co-option they must sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office, undertaking to conform to the demands and aspirations expected of a Councillor; they must must also complete a Register of Member’s Interests form which is designed to highlight any area where the interests of the Member may come into conflict with the activities and decision processes of the Council (if this happens, the Member must “declare an interest” in relation to such activity or decision process if such come before the Council).  The responsibilities of the Council, that each member signs up to, are framed in The Code of Conduct - a detailed expectation of how Members will behave towards each other, to the Clerk, to other staff, if the Council has any, and in the conduct of Council affairs, The Standing Orders - stating how meetings will be conducted and The Financial Regulations -indicating how the accounting and financial responsibilities of the Council will be managed.
 

What we spend and how we spend it


The Council does not borrow, or receive grants: the only grants (donations) it gives are as detailed in the budget as set in January.  It does not issue contracts, but seeks quotations for such occasional work as erecting a notice board.  There is a small contingency in the budget for Councillors expenses - attendance at a course or other relevant event - but Member’s do not receive allowances or expenses beyond this.

The Council operates within a framework of published “Financial Regulations”.

Each January meeting of the Council sees a discussion of the current expenditure to date, the Budget for the forthcoming financial year April-March, the anticipated bank balance to be carried forward and the Precept to be formally sought from North Somerset Council to provide Parish Council funding.  This discussion is minuted at each January meeting of the Council, with the Minutes being approved at the February meeting and subsequently posted to the two notice boards at Cross Tree and Walton Bay for three weeks.

An Accounting Spreadsheet, containing budget, Precept and Actual Expenditure to date during the financial year is circulated to every Councillor prior to each meeting.  The precept is received from North Somerset Council via BACS 50% in April and 50% in September.  All expenditure is via cheque, direct debit or standing order - there is no petty cash.  All cheques are approved, signed (by 2 Councillors) and minuted at the meeting prior to the relevant payment falling due.

After the end of each financial year all accounting paperwork is sent to to an Internal Auditor approved by the Council for scrutiny of data accuracy and the adoption of best-practice in management and presentation.  The Clerk then has to submit accounts details to a government appointed External Auditor in a prescribed format.  Before audit papers are sent off notices have to be displayed in the notice boards announcing the appointment of the external auditors and detailing parishioner’s rights to information and to make representations to the auditors. Once the accounts have been “signed off” - the paperwork has been agreed by the external auditors to be a true and accurate statement the parish accounts - the audit approval and supporting figures have to be displayed in the notice boards - usually, around August.