Penistone Council, BMBC, Elections, Etc.

Penistone Pictorial banner

This page attempts to assess, understand and probe the hierarchy and processes of local, borough and national democracy. Politics is not an exact science and is open to some unexpected twists and turns. Please note that the author of this website has no political affiliations and generally regards the subject of politics with the same disdain as to second-hand car dealers. Expect plenty of linkrot. Official bodies enjoy being moving targets and are inclined to change website links for no apparent reason. Sometimes an important document can no longer be found. That is useful to them as they change policy or emphasis but it makes difficult research and linkrot a fact of life.


Election and other Democracy pages on this website:
As with all pages on this website, when visiting one of these links, you can return to the level above (this page) by clicking the 'Back' Back icon at the page bottom.

External Links on Democracy:


The Hierarchy of Democracy
This page goes from the lowest to the highest levels, starting from the Town Council's 15 members who act in an unpaid, volunteer capacity, through Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (Penistone East and Penistone West = six members) whose members are generously rewarded, through BMBC's various off-shoots and finally to the UK Parliament.

It is pleasing to discover that our Town Council councillors are generally motivated to 'Put something back into the community' and generally in a selfless way without hope of recognition and no compensation beyond the satisfaction of 'a job well done' in serving the community. That is not to say that their path to success always runs smoothly. It is not uncommon for good intentions to be thwarted by such as, excessive delays, PTC recommendations ignored by Barnsley council or by spurious objections. PTC's resolutions can be diluted, misapplied or disregarded by the higher council.

One weakness at the local level is how co-options to fill 'Casual Vacancies' are conducted, possibly as a yardstick of how the 'Seven Nolan Principles' are implemented locally. There is still a 'culture of unnecessary confidentiality' which de-rails accountability. Looking at Barnsley, all organisations can close ranks when it suits them but Barnsley Council places more emphasis on the well-being of the organisation as a whole over the needs of its constituencies. PTC's new code of conduct deters councillors from rocking the boat but does not include any provision for whistle-blowing for if one of the clan was to indulge in matters immoral. The honest councillor could be drummed out and the conniving political animal tweaking PTC's rules to his advantage (and it is always a man) kept in.

In 2019, we could say that the principle of democracy was in trouble in the UK. Democracy itself is often 'taken as read' but without applying the best or most open procedures. There had been a spate of complaints in the local press and social media about the public feeling of having no influence over (BMBC) council decisions. This was made worse as BMBC councillors offered implausible excuses and explanations, such as where public funds such as 'Section 106' funds were being (or not being) spent appropriately. It fluctuates but there is often an undercurrent on social media of the mood that political operatives and career politicians are 'all the same' and innately dishonest. That attitude is unfair to those who do their best for the public good and it must erode their confidence. At the local level where party politics do not intrude much into Town Council actions, we can at least be more trusting of the motives of our councillors, even when things go wrong.

2018 News Item (Rogue Councils) - 'Secretive Councils Shut Out Reporters'
This does not (as far as we know) apply to our own area but, according to The Times newspaper, some regional councils (such as Nottingham and in Scotland) were denying access to news reporters wishing to observe and report on pivotal decisions taken by those councils, by passing those decisions on to 'Working Groups' which are not covered by the regulations. This bypasses HMG regulations on openness in local democracy to avoid unwanted publicity for various cuts and appears to be catching on in other councils. In some cases the decisions have been far-reaching and on a large scale but completely opaque.

According to these newspaper reports (and the law of the land), significant decisions by councils are supposed to be open to the full scrutiny of press and public. The problem with confidential procedures is that they cannot be challenged until it is too late, as nobody outside their group will know about them. That is a nice power to accrue to themselves. We must remember that council decisions are immediately implemented at the time they are agreed and why it is almost absurd to delay publishing minutes until after a following meeting, perhaps months later. It does let the dust settle before the public might complain. Perhaps they would not notice anyway. Fait accomplé.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has its own advice on Transparency:
'As guardians of public money, there is an expectation that local councils are expected to be as transparent and open as possible.' ... etc.

See the East Devon Watch article from a Times article (6th October 2018) which was the leading topic in that issue.


1. Penistone Town Council (PTC)
Penistone is to the west of the Barnsley Borough and its most rural area. The Barnsley Borough has 17 Parish Councils and one Town Council, with High Hoyland having a 'Parish Meeting' rather than a Parish Council. Penistone's Town Council (PTC) has 15 members, representing four Parish Wards (See PTC Election page). However, while Oxspring, Dunford Bridge, Thurgoland and Ingbirchworth are in the Penistone area, they have their own Parish Councils and are not represented on Penistone Town Council.

Penistone Town Council is at the lowest tier of governance, with limited powers. Larger towns often have a Town rather than a Parish Council but with equivalent powers. Town Councils elect a Mayor each year. Before Local Government Reorganisation, which stripped our town of most of its services and assets the Urban District Council was a small-scale local employer and serviced everything from housing to sewage and refuse collection. Buildings which had been purchased by earlier residents through subscription were gleefully appropriated by Barnsley Council. Where Penistone had a strong claim to continued ownership of the Town Hall (paramount), adjacent Council Chamber and the former Carnegie Library, a search for the deeds in Barnsley's Barnsley's 'secure storage' yielded no result. The late Councillor George Punt did his best to find them.

By being at grass roots level, a Parish or Town Council is able to work directly at a community rather than a political level. A dynamic Parish or Town Council can innovate as well as administrate. Unlike the Borough councillors who are well-remunerated, PTC councillors receive no reward other than the contentment of a job well done. This picture shows a typical PTC meeting in the Council Chamber, next door to the Town hall (Paramount) and taken in 2014.

PTC

A Facebook group claims erroneously that all of Penistone's Parades and Galas had started with the Scouts and Round table. That is not true, they go back to much earlier. PTC has for many years organised a variety of public events, such as Parades, Galas, Centenaries, Royal Jubilee Events (with commemorative plates or pamphlets) and, in 2016, a Beacon was lit in a special event for HM Queen's 90th birthday, complete with brass band.

Not as often these days though, perhaps because of an aging councillor profile or for other reasons such the ease of passing them on. These days, most but not all community activities have been passed on to such as the Round Table or Penistone church. Some events are by others, such as park runs and popular Tractor Runs through the town centre. Perhaps Penistone needs a new and lively Community organisation constituted to organise events (as Holmfirth does), to avoid event clashes and pick up where the Council left off.

1a. The Penistone Parish Wards
These are Penistone Town Council's Parish Wards:

A Penistone Mayor is elected each year by the full council from its members and a councillor can serve as Mayor more than once. The Mayor acts as chairman of the full council meetings, with the Deputy Mayor as standby, and can sit on any sub-committee. The Mayor attends important local events and will raise funds towards chosen charities for the year. Local events organisers can request a visit by the Mayor via the PTC website. A Mayor's Diary has sporadically appeared on the PTC website. Some PTC Councillors might also be councillors of BMBC. Unlike BMBC councillors, PTC councillors do not receive payment except for special extra responsibilities (such as Mayor).

PTC manages the Town Hall (Paramount), St John's Community Centre, the unisex Public Toilet, the Bus Shelter, the Royd Moor Viewing Platform and local allotments. They might also pay for the upkeep of the two church clocks, which are classed as 'public clocks.' PTC has two noticeboards in the town; one in a 'central, conspicuous place' on Market Street and another affixed to the Lower hall of the Community Centre. The Penistone Town Council website has a wealth of interesting information and NALC publication 'Points of Light' (free download, pdf) has some good examples of the work of the smaller councils. The NALC has other interesting publications on the same topic.

1b. Elections and Co-options
Penistone Parish Wards are set in stone through a Government Order: 'The Borough of Barnsley (Electoral Changes) Order 2003' which allocates the number of councillors required to represent each parish ward. Penistone Town Council (PTC) has fifteen council members distributed around four Parish Wards.

HMG: 'The number of councillors to be elected for the parish ward of Penistone shall be six, for the parish ward of Cubley and Spring Vale shall be four, for the parish ward of Thurlstone and Millhouse shall be three, and for the parish ward of Hoylandswaine shall be two.'

All fifteen seats are up for election every four years. Where there are more nominations than places, an election is called. Where there are no more than the required number of candidates, for a parish ward, that ward is 'Uncontested' and no election is needed for area and the sitting councillor stays in place. PTC Elections appear to run smoothly and be conducted in a proper manner.

Co-options are, however, a bit of a minefield in Penistone while addressing exactly the same question as the elections, of who represents the people. This is clearly an important process which ought to be conducted in public. But see the PTC Elections page for some iffy shenanigans in 2021 and a few years earlier.

PTC's newly drawn-up Co-options Policy (March 2021) is framed in terms of being public meetings, but with the discussion segment in private. It clearly states that 'the press and public' should be 'recalled to the meeting' after their deliberations. No problem there but it obviously means that 'the press and public' are at the meeting. Now this is where PTC ties itself in knots, because in March 2021 the meeting was held in private, no notice was posted and 'the public and press' were not invited.

5. The council will request all those submitting an application to attend a town council meeting and provide a short five-minute presentation as to their suitability as a town councillor, prior to resolving to co-opt the most suitable candidate. At this stage of the co-option process, where candidates speak in the meeting this is not prejudicial to the public interest, however where the council is discussing the merits of candidates and inevitably their personal attributes etc, this could be prejudicial and so for this part of the process, the council will exclude members of the press and public. Once this discussion is concluded, members of the press and public should be recalled to the meeting.

As a co-option meeting is another part of the democratic process to choose representation of the public, it could very easily be argued that it is definitely 'prejudicial to the public interest' to exclude that same public. Is that not obvious? Another way of looking at that is that the public might have less confidence in someone who was chosen in a private meeting. Jobs for the boys?

As an aside, I am reminded of a notice which once adorned the noticeboard of a popular club for many years. It read: 'In the interests of openness and accountability, members may apply to see Minutes of Committee Meetings upon giving seven days notice in writing.' That, presumably, would give them time enough to invent them.

1c. Planning
The town council always considers local Planning Applications and offers recommendations to BMBC's Planning Review Board, who are supposed to pay regard to them in their considerations and include them in planning documents. To the dismay of local councillors, PTC's recommendations have been sometimes 'lost in transit', with PTC recommendations not being included in BMBC's paperwork. This amounts to a breakdown in the democratic process and could be construed as a corruption of process. This matter once hit the newspapers and elicited much back-pedalling by certain BMBC councillors, none of whom actually denied the claim.

After BMBC signed off Penistone's Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), the NDP acquired legal force in planning applications, this has to be accommodated when considering those applications. Penistone Town Council's Planning Committee is always aware of NDP considerations when making their recommendations on planning applications.

1d. Meetings and Minutes

PTC Committees and Sub-committees
The five PTC subcommittees as they were up to April 2021:

The new structure from the May 2021 AGM, reduced to three sub-committees of five members each: Chair, Vice-Chair and three members. Other members may attend contribute but not vote.

Notice of meetings
Full PTC meetings are held at 7pm on the third Monday of each month (currently allowed to be online meetings until May 2021). Other meetings are not usually advertised, although some of them can be found on the PTC website.

(From Meetings Generally, Sec.3 of 'Standing Orders PTC 2021' pdf):
'The minimum three clear days for notice of a meeting does not include the day on which notice was issued, the day of the meeting, a Sunday, a day of the Christmas break, a day of the Easter break or of a Bank Holiday or a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning. The minimum three clear days’ public notice for a meeting does not include the day on which the notice was issued or the day of the meeting.'

Loosely translated, a notice for a Monday meeting would to go up on the Thursday before, as the three 'clear days' do not include the Sunday or the meeting day itself. Other notice periods apply: seven clear days for the Annual Assembly, as in Sec. 4 of the government's 'Open and Accountable Government' (pdf). A-hoc meetings are supposed to have five days notice unless it is an emergency but that one usually falls through the holes and we have to be diligent to discover wht happened. Some co-option meetings are not notified to the public, although their updated procedures include the public and press being able to observe.

A scheduling problem can arise if the first Monday of the month is a Bank Holiday, when it can move the meetings up one week. In 2016 the general meeting was moved up a week but, in April 2018 with Easter Monday on the 2nd April, the general meeting was held as usual on Monday 16th April. This inconsistency does pop up from time to time and can catch out both the public and the councillors. In April 2021, meetings were moved on a week in the mourning period for the passing of Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh. That one was a government edict and it affected another meeting in the following week, moved from Monday to Wednesday.

Her Majesty's Government Open and Accountable Government (August 2014) PDF icon, Section 4 refers to Parish and Town Councils.

Q. 'Can a parish or town council ... choose to meet in private?
A. 'All meetings of these councils must be open to the public, except in limited defined circumstances. These councils can only decide, by resolution, to meet in private when discussing confidential business or for other special reasons where publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest.
'

If the public is excluded from a meeting, the council has resolved to give their reasons (and the law requires this). Being 'prejudicial to the public interest' is not in itself a reason and needs more effort. An example of how it works in real life is at a meeting in July 2021, when a council member requested that a discussion on Round Table funding be done in private. No reason was given and none of the other councillors questioned either the need or the non-compliance with rules in not giving the reason. In this instance, it is likely that thousands of pounds were being considered, a not insignificant use of public funds.

The PTC custom appears to be that the sub-committee Chairs decide on whether to exclude the public rather than a decision 'by resolution' with reasons given. Done correctly, if we were to be excluded from such-and-such a meeting, a declaration of which meeting it referred to (and reasons) would be made. But that would admit to the existence of said meeting, so it does not happen.

Here's another trick. We all know that public notifications are supposed to be shown 'in a central and conspicuous place' but, at times, the notice has appeared only on the backwater Community Centre noticeboard. This has happened more than once for the Annual Town Assembly. The same goes for the local radio station who, on one occasion had known about it for weeks but only published a website notice at 5pm on the actual day, thereby subverting my usual complaint that they do not inform the public about this event. D'oh!

At one Annual Assembly, the Chair said that they would like to stop holding the Annual Assembly because of the lack of public interest, in spite of the meetings being a statutary requirement. Myself and others remarked that there would be much more support from the public if the event could be advertised properly and not just to the legal minimum. In April 2021, the official notice for the Annual Town Assembly had the wrong email address for the public to use in order to gain access to the online Zoom meeting. Now, this might have been a genuine mistake as PTC was starting to use a new email, but the same mistake appeared on the next notice following in May 2021 for another statutory meeting, the AGM. Now that is beginning to look more deliberate. It is unlikely that members of the public would be able to 'attend' either the Annual Assemby or the AGM.

This touches upon councillors being able to publicise something that is subject to a statutory minimum notice. There is no penalty for exceeding the minimum notice other than risking the wrath of those who do not believe in openness and transparency. The new Code of Conduct is, in effect, a gagging order or 'NDA' (Non-disclosure Agreement) to prevent the more information leaks, but promoting an important public meeting could hardly be called a hanging offence. Perhaps the council could agree to allow more leeway on publicity than the legal minimum notice.

The over-burdened phrase 'Prejudicial to the Public Interest' is employed without qualification, to exclude public and press from meetings and parts of meetings. The current habit in 2021 appears to regard all PTC meetings (beyond the general meeting) as confidential unless there are pressing reasons not to. This is opposite to the government guidance on openness and accountability which prefers public scrutiny unless there is a good reason of confidentiality, again 'by resolution' and with reasons given.

PTC's Standing Orders (2021) - (scroll down their page) says that ... the public can be excluded from sub-committees and public notification withheld where their presence might be 'prejudicial' to proceedings:

(The Council...) 4x 'Shall determine if the public and press are permitted to attend the meetings of a sub-committee and also the advance public notice requirements, if any, required for the meetings of a sub-committee;'

There are, of course, always some good reasons when confidentiality might be reasonable (such as employee Ts&Cs or dealing with suppliers) but they are limited in scope and laid down in the national regulations. Done by the book, it would be nearly impossible to hide the existence of any meeting. Incidentally, PTC's new Publication Scheme (April 2021) has no problems in putting the meeting timetable online. Section 4: 'Timetable of meetings (Council, any committee/sub-committee meetings and parish meetings) - Website, Free - Hard Copy on Request, 10p per sheet.'

'Public Participation'
Council meetings are 'meetings in public' but are not classed as 'public meetings' such as you might find in a football match or public protest. Therefore, the public may observe but not normally participate in a meeting unless the chair invites them so to do, perhaps while discussing some topic or other.

The public and press may observe any PTC meetings they have not explicitly been excluded from. From Standing Orders: 'Meetings shall be open to the public unless their presence is prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons. The public’s exclusion from part or all of a meeting shall be by a resolution which shall give reasons for the public’s exclusion.' By arrangement, people may also be able to give special presentations to council meetings, where appropriate.

PTC has resolved that a ten-minute 'Public Participation' time is allowed before the start of general meetings, to allow questions (not statements) to be put to the Chair and the discussion would be (by a later resolution) included in Minutes. The council is not required to give an immediate response. Each question is to be no longer than three minutes. This is not a public right but a concession by the council which could be withdrawn in future, although the public have always been able to submit questions in writing to any council.

Although the Government 'Standards Committee' had been abolished in the noughties, new 'Openness and Transparency' regulations were introduced by HM Government in 2014 to fill the void and help the press and public to know about, view and report the work of local government bodies. New requirements were imposed for councils to publish certain levels of spending (and salaries of local government officials above a certain level which BMBC is shy). The 'Press' is defined in the widest terms – including traditional print media, filming crews, bloggers and hyper-local journalists. They are, of course required to cause no disruption or unnecessary noise or they could be booted out. Live commentary is definitely forbidden.

The Press and 'Citizen Reporters'
My observation over the years is that sometimes the local reporter is pulled to one side and asked to contact the council in confidence but HMG Guidance says that members of the public can be 'Citizen Reporters' with the same rights of access as the Press, complete with the necessary facilities, if need be. In my own case, I could reasonably claim that my role in the community fits the description of 'Citizen Journalist', which should grant me exactly the same access and facilities as any newspaper reporters.

This marks a slight change from previous practise and it will be interesting to observe their own compliance. PTC Agendas include an item about whether the public are to be excluded from observing selected items. These are defined circumstances, such as where a named individual might be discussed or perhaps employee conduct, salaries, negotiation of contracts or other legal matters.

So far, so good for Agendas, but regarding access to meetings with 'public notification withheld', the law of the land supposes in favour of public access to 'all meetings' ... 'except for limited, defined circumstances.' There is clearly a level of dissonance here, especially for such as Co-option Meetings, as stated above.

Remote Meetings during the Covid-19 Pandemic
On 4th April 2020, the government brought 'The Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings) (England) Regulations 2020' into force to allow local authorities to conduct meetings remotely until May 2021. In the Covid-19 pandemic, the 'National Association of Local Councils' (NALC) has provided a series of Guidance Documents for Parish and Town Councils. Of particular interest is their document on Remote Meetings (pdf), with good procedural advice. PTC used the 'Zoom' platform. There were some problems such as not every councillor having the facility to use Zoom directly but it seemed to work sufficiently well. One councillor had his voice relayed to the meeting from his telephone.

1e. Public Access and Accountability
As a matter of historic interest, public and press access to meetings at every level had originally been established by the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, as a result of a Private Member's Bill proposed by an up-and-coming MP of the day, one Mrs Margaret Thatcher. Anyone above a certain age will remember the controversial 'Mrs T' as being the Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. She was definitely a Marmite character, both loved and hated in equal measure.

In 2014, the government sought to improve public rights at meetings and bring them into line with the modern age; to accommodate the internet, council websites, citizen reporters, bloggers, videographers and more. The Open and Accountable Government (August 2014) PDF icon document lays down various rights of access to meetings and documents.

Of particular interest is that the new rights allow the public and press to audio-record, photograph or video council meetings - and - without anyone being required to ask for prior permission. That is very important and we can not be excluded from a meeting on that point. PTC was initially uncomfortable with this and one member was heard to protest about the possibility of being recorded.

A document of more than 1,000 words long used to be on display in the Council Chamber concerning the new law. It covered such nonsense as prohibiting photographing any children who happen to be running around the Council Chamber among other detritus. One innocuous compromise was to ask anyone who would be recording or photographing, etc. to announce the fact at the start of that meeting. That is not a legal requirement but not really a problem either. And PTC's rules can never trump the law of the land.

Disappearing Acts
Sometimes our council likes to go 'off the grid' and hold a meeting as privately as possible, as it did with a local developer. That one was actually described as an 'ad-hoc meeting' but it definitely did not comply with HMG's five days clear notice requirement for all ad-hoc or unscheduled meetings. Sometimes the Minutes of that sort of meeting would be long-delayed or appended to Minutes of other meetings. In effect, buried. In this case, the Minutes were appended to a meeting which had been held before that one. This does happen but it is difficult to hide for long and, rightly or wrongly, it does raise suspicions in the public mind.

Insert a Middleman?
Should that have been: 'Cut out the Middleman'? An interesting matter came up in 2021. Remember the remark in the Co-options section above: '... an attempt by some to subvert this and other processes' - well, let us take a look at those 'other processes' as envisaged by one PTC subcommittee which looks as though it is making its mark, or possibly a subset of its membership - an inner circle.

In March 2021, the Finance and General Purposes (F&GP) Committee is seeking to imposing business instead of local government practises on meetings. This thinking appears to stem from the idea that the Chair of a meeting is actually a Manager or something like a union leader, with more power and influence than members. F&GP resolved that its Chair would operate for a trial period as the main point of contact for detailed queries to the Town Clerk and feed those queries back to Committee, thereby putting a great deal of control and filtration into one person's hands. In short, a middleman (and it is always a man). That would allow the Chair to be an arbiter with the power to modify, reject or amend a quewry to the Town Clerk and do the same to any reply. Not very democratic and it is difficult to see how an extra layer of interference in a legitimate query would make it any more 'efficient.' It could also undermine the position of the Town Clerk and put her under pressure to accede to the whims of the Chair.

However, that attempted coup could yet founder on the rocks of common sense. At a general meeting which followed, a senior councillor of long experience asserted the long-held right of any councillor to directly communicate with the Clerk, as necessary, without another councillor's intervention. One wonders whether there might be a power struggle emerging here with an 'inner circle' of councillors attempting to, shall we say 'filter' access of other councillors. On paper, all councillors are supposed to be of the same status and power. The Mayor has slightly more influence. As the Americans say "Go figure."

1f. Public Information
This section is to be re-drafted due to a new Publications Scheme 2021 PDF icon becoming available, which answers most or possibly all of the remarks below.
The following text was from 2018-2020 and has been partly abridged to reduce the verbiage until it has been re-edited:

HM Government has a section on how to 'Understand how your local council works,' Page two of which has the basics on 'Decision Making':

'Every council must publish:

From the Guide: 'Notice of the meeting specifying the business to be discussed must be placed in a central conspicuous place...' Councils are required to give a minimum of three days' notice for council meetings and seven days' notice for the Annual Meeting. In our case, the Agenda is posted on PTC noticeboards the Friday before Monday meetings and is seen by observers of that meeting. Except for the Annual Meeting, other meetings are not advertised.

The NALC 'Parish Toolkit' recommends the early publication of Council Minutes and many councils publish draft minutes in order to better inform the public to frame their questions for a meeting. The following graphic is the NALC recommendations for Parish/Town Councils:

The Role of Minutes

PTC had resolved in a general meeting to delay publication until after the following meeting with the argument that Minutes could not be regarded as entirely 'legal' unless they were accepted as a true record and signed off accordingly at a later meeting. The counter-argument (not discussed) was that decisions taken at council meetings have immediate effect, making a good case for the public to be informed as quickly as possible. In practise, draft minutes are now allowed in advanced of the signed-off version.

In an apparent non-compliance of regulations, 'background papers' (which are used to help make decisions) are not circulated or appended to the information in the public domain and yet, according to the Government Guide above, the public can request to see such background papers at the Council Office. We now enter Catch-22 territory. The public is unlikely to make a request to see such papers if they do not know about them. That same information is supposed to be on a council website ('where there is one') along with the relevent Minutes for that meeting.

Interestingly, different PTC committees work to different schemes. As an example, the Precept meeting of Monday 1st February 2016 had been signed off on Monday 15th February 2016. Minutes for an ad-hoc (unpublicised) Planning Meeting in September 2016 (approving the Laird's Way proposals) went back in time to be appended to July 2016 Minutes. That was rather irregular but JB was on the ball. Some Annual Assembly Minutes have not seen the light of day.

1g. Historical
The Carnegie Free Library (partially, in 1913) and the Town Hall Building ('Paramount Theatre' and Council Offices, fully in 1914) were built by public subscription (see Town Hall History) by an extra charge put on the rates. The forerunner to PTC was Penistone Urban District Council (PUDC), set up in 1869. It had many more responsibilities than the current PTC, such as council house maintenance and waste collection and it had many more employees. In 1969, PUDC held its centenary celebrations, with a full programme of local events.

In 1974, BMBC assumed ownership and control of Penistone's assets under 'Local Government Reorganisation Act, 1972' and this had far-reaching effects on local governance and facilities. One of the first things to go was an Employment Exchange in Penistone. The Local Government (Successor Parishes) Order 1973 Statutory Instrument led to the Penistone Town Council following on from Penistone Urban District Council.

In the noughties, PTC was looking into upgrading its working practises to apply for a 'Quality Council Award' (QCA). It was close to meeting most of the stringent conditions, with the remaining conditions within grasping distance. From around 2014, it appeared that the quest had been abandoned (See the NALC's Local Council Award Scheme, 2016), although most of its principles were said to be already in operation. In 2021, the subject has been discussed again (forgotten source).

1h. Annual Precept Meeting
This appears to be held on the first Monday of February. Although the public has an absolute right to observe this sort of meeting, and particularly so in this case where money is being allocated, the meeting is not normally publicised in a meaningful way. You will find this same grumble in several places. It provides information to BMBC on how the cost of the local precept is calculated. A precept is an additional sum which is added to Council Tax for use by the local council and includes grants to local organisations and projects. It is not usually a large extra cost. The date and time of this annual meeting is not publicised. See the 2016 Precept Minutes (pdf) as an example.

Local Taxation Bands
PTC raises funding via the Precept using an 'equated, averaged Band of all the housing' which in Penistone's case is based on Band D (value £68,001 to £88,000 in 1991). To non-British readers, we pay a local tax depending upon a graded system relating to the value of the house and based upon a nominal two-person residence (see wiki). Band A is the cheapest relating to a 1991 value of £40,000 or less and the other extreme is Band H for a 1991 value of £320,000 and above.

Single people and some other categories can claim a Single-Person Discount of 25% off the full Tax imposed for that property. Over the years there had been attempts to re-value properties in line with various improvements and additions which had not been included in the original valuations but (so far) these have been deferred. There would be winners and losers with a re-valuation process but the losers might also be most likely to be those with the more valuable properties. I'll leave that thought hanging in the air.

Previous to the Council Tax system, householders paid Rates, again based upon the value of property. This was ended in 1990 when the Conservative Government under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher introduced the 'Community Charge' which was a local taxation system charged per qualifying person, known far and wide as the 'Poll Tax.' That had been a major political mistake and was greatly disliked by the public. It had been introduced to Scotland first which led to a huge backlash of protest. They regarded it as an experiment. In 1992 the Poll Tax was replaced by the Council Tax. As a legacy of the old Rates system our non-metered water bills are still based upon the original rate value of a property, regardless of whether the property has been modified to improve its value.

The Precept is also used for other than Town Council matters. One of these is to support the Police force. This is not be easy to follow but here is an example of Police funding for our district in the period 2017-2018 based upon the number of houses in Band D = 4075. The total for Police business is £572,904.25 - through Council Tax and Government funding of approximately 75% of the total = £2,292,000 for the Penistone Town Council area. I do not understand the maths but these figures were provided by a local council member who knew his onions.

1i. Annual Town Assembly
The 'Annual Town Assembly' is a statutory requirement for all parish and town councils throughout the land. The main point of it is to present the Annual Accounts to the public. We can also expect the retiring Mayor's Report and a summary of Council activity over the year. The picture here is from the 2010 Annual Town Assembly.

Annual Assembly 2010

From the PTC website: 'The purpose of calling this meeting is to enable the council to report on the year. Also electors are given a chance to have their say on anything which they consider is important to the people of the parish of Penistone. The meeting is open to the public, but such persons only as are registered as local government electors for the town will be entitled to vote at the meeting.'

A valuable aspect of the Annual Assembly in Penistone is that residents can raise issues in detail at this meeting and the council usually responds from whoever is appropriate. One odd local quirk is that previous ATA Minutes will be referred to at the meeting but the public won't see the Minutes until after the next year's Annual Assembly, which rather dilutes the effectiveness of anyone raising an issue. In 2016 the notice was only found on the Community Centre noticeboard, not the Town Centre noticeboard. Only three residents attended.

Less important in the age of social media but each year it has been a common feature for members of the public to grumble about the lack of advertising for the Annual Assembly. It is rare for more than a handful of the public to either know about it and turn up but council members are always keen to encourage the public to come to the meeting.

Annual Meeting (Equivalent to an AGM)
All Parish or Town Councils are required to hold an 'Annual Meeting' in April/May (the 'Parish Toolkit' says May) which must be advertised in 'A central, conspicuous place' with at least seven day's notice. In effect it is what we would call an AGM.

Penistone's Annual Meeting is the first full council meeting which follows the Annual Assembly. This is where various councillors can find appropriate roles to fit their expertise or abilities. The title of 'Mayor of Penistone' is conferred to the new incumbent and the appointment of committee members to various sub-committees and Boards is arranged, usually nominated by the more senior members. Sometimes we might witness a certain pushiness by some to gain influence. The new Mayor is likely to be photographed for the occasion by the local press and for that reason the doors open earlier than usual.

1j. PTC Police Precept
Funding for the Police is partly derived from a precept added to Council Tax, applied according to the parish or town district. This appears to be tied to an 'equated average housing Band' for the area concerned, which, in the case of Penistone is Band D. As a rough guide, from around 2017 (not confirmed by research) the number of Band D homes was 4,075 in the Penistone area. Funding derived for the Police for our area was calculated as 4,075 x £149.59 = £572, 904.25 from Council Tax Precept, with HM Government providing around 75% of total Police funding. For the Penistone Town Council area, the total comes to just over £2m at around £2, 292,000.


2. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC)

2a. The Mood
Penistone Mug from Hallmark Card ShopThis is the next level above a Parish/Town Council and BMBC is not well-loved in our area. Our town is 7-8 miles away from Barnsley and has its own sense of identity, only weakly observed by or connected with that of Barnsley.

It is the habit of the Barnsley authority to refer to Penistone and other places as being 'In Barnsley' but, apart from that being somewhat insulting to any place with its own sense of identity outside the Barnsley conurbation, it also gives an impression that 'they' are in their own bubble and do not connect with our district as a separate entity. Local litter bins have 'Keep Barnsley Clean' stickers, which one might be tempted to overlay with the message: 'Shop locally instead!' We are not Barnsley.

For the same reason, initiatives such as 'Proud to be Barnsley' feel irrelevant and distant. Evidence of this is might be their annual campaign to celebrate notable 'Barnsley people' but which elicits little response from our district. Even the street signs demonstrate Barnsley's dominance. We have our own coat of arms.

BMBC appears to be autocratic over local matters and has at times been described as a 'One-party State' by dissenters. A repeated message for decades was that: 'Barnsley would do more for Penistone if we voted the same way.' As a threat, that inclines residents to 'dig in' and oppose the bullies rather than co-operate with the distant governing council which might as well be located on the moon as far as local residents are concerned.

From our side, there is a constant grumble that BMBC encourages excessive building of executive-style houses in our area which price out locals and their families. It is often remarked that we are: 'A cash cow for the rest of the Borough'. Developers are required to build a proportion of 'affordable houses' but can offset this by paying into 'Section 106 fund' to be spent elsewhere in the Borough. As of 2016, there was palpable anger about this funding leaving our area for all manner of purposes, including a Planning Officer's salary. The general mood is that it is misspent on unworthy projects elsewhere in the borough, a view which might sometimes be inaccurate. We can be sure of one thing, though; a great fanfare of publicity if a small portion of the funds does make it to our own district, as when £20k went towards a children's recreation ground - and out of how many £million? !!

Planning is perhaps the thorniest issue and source of the greatest friction between our district and distant Barnsley, All too often, local objections appear to count for little or nothing. Our countryside is in danger of serious encroachment by these new (executive) housing estates. One was sited off Chapel Lane, a narrow road which is little better than a cart track. In spite of vociferous objections, Barnsley steamrollered through the plans. Yours truly attended the Planning Revue meeting in Barnsley Town Hall and can attest to its unprofessional conduct. The chief spokesman appeared to have trouble with the Queen's English and the whole affair went through 'on the nod' like a committee in a dictatorship. The planners accepted a road survey commissioned by the developers without question, while any local person could (and did) explain the weaknesses of siting a substantial development up a quiet and narrow lane with a blind bend. On top of that, it entailed many heavy lorry trips down a crumbling road but we can at least be thankful that they were required to approach via Hartcliff and not Penistone.

According to a now-withdrawn document 'The Town and Parish Council Charter', BMBC was supposed to consult smaller councils on such as road-naming and other matters but the mood is that we are ignored. Our own BMBC councillors have said that road-naming is agreed between BMBC and developers and are not interested in trying to remedy the matter. BMBC's roadside notices (for such as highways changes) state where the public may put forward their objections but are not always displayed as required, subverting the public feedback process. They are usually required to be available in Penistone Library but this too is often ignored. On the occasion of the serious re-modelling of the Green Road junction with Mortimer Road, neither the public nor PTC were informed about the changes before they happened.

2b. BMBC Planning
Rightly or wrongly, the Barnsley Planning department is always under suspicion of misbehaving. My own experience of one Planning Revue meeting held in Barnsley Town Hall was ghastly. The junior official who did the talking was quite unprofessional in his delivery. He was barely audible and could barely pronounce his words (and dropped his tees). To their credit, our Penistone BMBC councillors robustly put their case in the matter of a large development encroaching upon the countryside. The remaining councillors appeared disinterested and did not question anything, offer any opposing remarks or object to anything. They were there to do as they were told and consistently voted as one, in the style of a North Korean committee. I can back that up.

Take a look at the text of this interesting letter to the Barnsley Chronicle, dated 30th January 2015:

From Cllr Phil Davies, Town Hall, Barnsley.

May I apologise to the residents of Old Town at the outcome of the planning decision taken last week. I failed to ensure that £250,000 earmarked to replace the lost pitches at Carrington Avenue would remain in the Honeywell area; instead it has been allocated to Cudworth. Not for the first time, I was once again prevented from asking questions in relation to this. Apparently I was ‘asking too many questions’ and the chair wanted to end the meeting before these issues could be heard.

I wasn't the only councillor to be verbally abused. He raged at several members of the planning board, telling us: “You can’t question every planning application.” Of course, members appreciated the irony of this statement; that if we're not there to question applications, why are we there?

The answer is that we're there to simply approve the decisions taken by the planners. We even get briefing notes telling us which applications should be approved and which should be refused and the chair vents his fury at anyone who opposes his views, with the cabinet spokesperson for development sat at the back, identifying those who oppose his proposals. I can not air the views of the public and therefore I will not allow my presence on the board to legitimise the decisions taken in their name. I will no longer be taking my seat on the planning board while ever this system continues and members’ contributions are treated with such contempt.

It seems that Barnsley Planning is not conversant with the principles of democracy. Councillors are told which applications to vote for and which to reject, with someone sitting at the back to see which ones comply. That clearly smacks of the one-party-system controlling Barnsley and it demonstrates how a wider range of political views might serve the public better. Councillor Davies very correctly posed the question "... if we are not there to question applications, why are we there?"

There were complaints from Penistone Town Council when it was discovered that PTC recommendations were being omitted from planning application documents. Local councillors spent their time and considerable experience on making these recommendations, only to be ignored. Yes, they were only recommendations to be regarded or disregarded as they pleased but omitting them from official documents caused a lot of bad blood at a local level until 'damage limitation' measures came into operation. I forget the excuses made.

Section 106 Funds
Developers are required to tick all of the boxes and provide (ill-defined) affordable housing, playgrounds and other improvements when they put plans in for a new housing development. They can side-step the requirements by paying into what is usually called the 'Section 106 Fund' which is intended for use within the same district. In practise, it is often spent on more distant projects. On one occasion, it came to light that a BMBC official was being paid from the same fund, although there were hasty denials when this became public.

When BMBC signed off Penistone's Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), the NDP acquired legal force in planning applications to be accommodated when considering those applications. Penistone Town Council's Planning Committee is always aware of NDP considerations when making their recommendations on planning applications. An example in 2021 suggested that some NDP features were not fully included in BMBC planning documents for a local development.

2c. BMBC Allowances and Expenses
The Basic Allowance for ordinary BMBC members is now £11,620 (2020-21), previously £10.870 (2018), £10,762 (2017) and £10,665 (2016). The average cost to the public per Barnsley councillor (2018-19) was £14,249, compared to £14,362 for Sheffield City councillors and £15,895 for Kirklees councillors. In the same 2018-2019 period, the highest Basic Allowance for a unitary council in England was £14,189, paid by Cornwall, while the lowest Basic Allowance in the UK was £687, paid by Torbay.

Members may also receive an extra allowance for Special Responsibilities, such as Chairman of Area Council - £8,962 (2020-21), previously £8,383 (2018) and £8,218 (2016), but BMBC councillors are not allowed more than one extra allowance on top of the basic.

BMBC councillors also receive legitimate expenses for travel and subsistence when on official business. It is generally thought that BMBC councillors enjoy perks which might include phones and laptop computers. Please note that not all BMBC councillors take what they are entitled to. Also, in contrast to borough councillors, Parish and Town councillors do not normally receive payments. BMBC Members' may apply for an Annual Travel Allowance (for travel within the Barnsley Borough) calculated on the distance from Barnsley Town Hall to the member's postcode. Unlike Penistone, Barnsley Town Hall is their administrative centre. Annual Travel Allowances within the borough:

Band A - Up to 2 Miles, No Allowance;
Band B - 2 to 4 Miles, £120
Band C - 4 to 8 Miles, £240
Band D - Above 8 Miles, £600.

2021 figures. Travel Allowances remain the same in March 2021 as 2016. BMBC Members' Allowance Scheme also includes other allowances and for official journeys outside the Borough.

Sources, BMBC Allowance Scheme and Taxpayers' Alliance survey of Councillor Expenses 2018-2019, published 2020.

BMBC is required by law to abide by the Local Government Transparency Code (2015), which also applies to Parish/Town Councils. Of particular interest is the legal requirement for the Council to publish an itemised list each quarter of all spending above £500, except salaries. See BMBC's Quarterly Spending downloads, which are published in the 'Comma-Separated-Variable' (CSV) spreadsheet format. See the current Membership and tabulated Election results for Penistone East and Penistone West Wards on the BMBC Elections page. See also BMBC's General Information on Councillors.


3. BMBC Area Councils
BMBC has six well-funded 'Area Councils' which consider local matters and support projects outside the scope of the Parish and Town Councils. These are: 'Central AC', 'South Barnsley AC', 'North AC', 'North East AC', 'Penistone AC' and 'Dearne AC'. Each Chairman receives a BMBC allowance of £8,962 (2020-21). The role of Area Councils is rather vaguely described as: 'To agree the local priorities for action in your area.'

3a. Penistone Area Council
The six elected Penistone Ward councillors (BMBC East + West) are automatically members of the Penistone Area Council (PAC). The PAC publishes a News-sheet Pdf from time to time and other reports and documents such as the Financial Assessment Pdf, Dec 2018 are informative about what they do and how they use their funding. Area Councils also oversee the running of each district's Ward Alliances. See Working Together Pdf (Jan to March 2018) and BMBC's 'Ward Alliance Governance Framework' Pdf linked from their Document Reference site.

3b. Ward Alliances in General
From BMBC PAC, we find an outline plan for all of the BMBC Ward Alliances. All members are expected to adopt the Ward Alliance’s purpose, values and ground rules. Each alliance should comprise of a minimum of six community representatives of the Ward, chosen by the Ward councillors. These will be drawn from individuals living or working in the Ward, and those with a vested interest in the effectiveness of the Ward. The work of Barnsley borough Ward Alliances is described thus (From BMBC's 'Ward Alliance Review' Pdf of 2015):

'Ward Alliances were set up in 2013 as part of BMBC’s new area arrangements with the purpose of trying to ensure that decision making and planning for local areas is relevant and representative of the area it serves. The main aim for ward alliances is to enable the ‘Council and Community to work together through an active partnership of Local Elected Members and representatives of the community who together can plan, take action and stimulate the involvement of the wider community to meet the needs of their area.'

Examples from BMBC of community representatives who may be invited to join a typical Ward Alliance are:

3c. Penistone Ward Alliance
The six Penistone Ward councillors are automatically members of and oversee the activities of Penistone Ward Alliance. More than half of the Penistone Ward Alliance consists of the six PAC members and a selection of PTC councillors, the remainder being representatives from community groups. The selection process is somewhat obscure and membership appears to vary year-to-year. The involvement of several PTC councillors is ideal for this kind of work.

The Ward Alliance meets in the PTC Council Chamber it helps fund and support local events, projects, facilities and activities, such as local clean-ups or measures to reduce social isolation. It supports such as such as the Penistone Arts Festival and the 'No Horizon' plays.

As with nearly all council meetings and most official bodies in general which receive public funding, residents have a right to observe meetings, although details of the meetings are difficult to discover (Yours Truly did attend the first meeting). From a random search looking for Minutes, the Ward Alliance appears to be concerned about the public not knowing what they do. One member commented that their 'Action Plan' needed to be revisited such that they are not construed as being just a grant-giving body. A small noticeboard on the Town Hall Building is for PAC and Ward Alliance notices but is seldom used.

3d. 'Penistone Area Team'
There is some confusion as to whether this colloquialism refers to the Area Council or Ward Alliance and one suspects that it is being used for both, or either as the mood takes them. The 'Penistone Area Team' Facebook page throws a beam of light on their good work:

Penistone Area Team works across Dunford, Langsett, Gunthwaite and Ingbirchworth, Penistone, High Hoyland, Cawthorne, Silkstone, Oxspring, Hunshelf, Thurgoland, Stainborough, Tankersley and Wortley. They are part of Barnsley Council's 'Safer, Stronger and Healthier Communities' working with the communities covered by the Penistone East and Penistone West Wards. Our role is to local people to work together to improve our area and the quality of life for people who live here.

Whatever they are, we can discover, no doubt to our great satisfaction, that they are part of Barnsley Council's 'Safer, Stronger and Healthier Communities' whatever that means. Such council 'initiatives' are fond of using a style of aspirational and life-affirming English which conveys little of substance. It keeps somebody on the payroll who might have a more fulfilling life sweeping the streets. Applicants for support can fill in their Penistone Neighbourhood Network form.


4. HMG Parliament
Penistone is represented in Westminster by Miriam Cates MP (Conservative Party) as the elected Member of Parliament for the constituency of 'Penistone and Stocksbridge', allying these disparate communities together. The Parliamentary Constituency boundaries change from time to time and ours has variously been ''Barnsley West and Penistone', plain 'Penistone' and even historically 'Holmfirth' for a very short time.

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) reviews constituency boundaries every five years (formerly three years) to try to keep constituencies to approximately the same number of voters. In the most recent effort, their proposal was to put Penistone in with Holmfirth. It did not happen and a new review is scheduled.

See Parliamentary Elections (on this website) for the Parliamentary Constituency of 'Penistone and Stocksbridge' and earlier Penistone MPs.

4a. MPs' Salaries and Expenses
Following the 2009 'MP's Expenses Scandal' published in the Daily Telegraph, Parliament decided to remove decisions on MPs' pay and conditions from the members themselves and set up an 'Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority' (IPSA). After this, members hoped to be removed from accusations of 'feathering the nest' with unacceptable demands for perks and extra money. Nonetheless, IPSA proved to be very generous with inflation-busting increases year on year, when other parts of the Public Sector were being held to a maximum 1% per annum pay rise or later a pay freeze.

As of 2016, the basic annual salary for an MP (back-dated from 8th May 2015) is £74,000. MPs also receive expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London and in their constituency, and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.


5. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), representing Yorkshire and Humberside. Irrelevant following the UK leaving the EU. Retained here out of historical interest.
The European Parliament has elections every five years and is composed of 751 members. It has powers over the entire EU budget.
In the 2014 EU Elections, the top three parties representing the UK were: UKIP (26.6%), Labour (24.43%) and Conservative (23.05%).

5a. History:
The UK was not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome which created the European Economic Community (EEC = the 'Common Market') in 1957, but applied to join in 1963 and 1967. Both applications were vetoed by the President of France, Charles de Gaulle, a formerly minor figure whom we had preserved during WWII. After he resigned, the UK tried again and was successful, joining 1st January 1973. Having joined the EEC, a Referendum was held in 1975 when Edward Heath was PM, to decide whether to stay in that trading organisation. It was yet to become an all-embracing political power. The major political parties and Press urged voters to stay in. The result was 67.2% in favour of staying and 32.8% against, with a turnout of 64.5%.

Following the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the EEC became the European Union (EU) when the Treaty came into force 1st November 1993. This led to the creation of the Euro currency which was adopted by several EU countries. The Lisbon Treaty amended the two treaties which formed the constitutional basis of the EU and was signed on 13th December 2007. It reformed the Maastricht Treaty and, among other things, made the 'Charter of Fundamental Rights' legally binding on all member states, coming into force on 1st December 2009. The 55 articles of the Charter enshrined certain political, social, and economic rights for EU citizens into EU law. An attempt in 2001 to draw up a EU Constitution was blocked by the majority of French voters.

Over time, the EU was increasingly behaving as a federal power. It openly aimed at an 'Ever Closer Union' until, as many people would suspect, it might become a single state centred upon France and Germany. There was also a possibility that member states might eventually be forced to join the Euro currency, leading to the loss of national control over each nation's money. Around the time of the UK Referendum, the EU was considering forming its own army with member states 'lending' their armed forces to it.

5b. The EU Referendum
This is no longer an active issue in the UK, having left the European Union. A UK Referendum on whether the UK would stay in ('Remain') or leave (aka 'Brexit') the European Union was held on Thursday 23rd June 2016, having been promised in the Conservative Manifesto of the 2015 General Election by Mr Cameron.

In the lead-up to the EU Referendum of 2016, the official Government line was to support the 'Remain' campaign although many in the Conservative Party disagreed. All UK homes received a government leaflet (costing about £9m) outlining reasons to 'Remain' and none to leave. An advertising campaign to Remain encompassed all media, including one tv advertisement featuring the physicist Steven Hawking, who we might assume knew more about bosons than international politics. As of early June 2016, opinion polls showed about the same support for each campaign but this was to change.

A red bus toured the country with a misleading message that the £350m a week we pay (from memory) to the EU would be better spent on the NHS. Critics pointed out that, although we do pay that amount each week, we also receive about 40% back in rebates and other perks but the point was made and it left a deep impression. Mr Nigel Farage became a regular face in the news with his anti-EU antics in the actual EU Parliament, often to undignified cheers or boos from the other members. Every time the red bus was joked about, it rubbed it into the public perception just how much was given to the EU each week. It was good, if flawed, publicity for the 'Leave' campaign.

The BBC acted very badly. It ejected any pretence of impartiality and the public were subjected to one after the other political interviews which were blatantly skewed towards the Remain camp, particularly Radio4's flagship 'Today' programme and BBC TV's 'Newsnight' with Emily Maitliss attempting to skewer Rod Liddel through the use of unrelated recordings. The same happened with Ann Widdecombe, where an unrelated recording was played before she could speak. Neither effort worked and both backfired. The usual 'woke' comedy shows all trotted out the same line as well, underestimating the public as always. Given this bombardment, the general public became heartily sick of all the London-centric negativity. In the end, Brexit won and, I would say, largely as a public reaction to all of the negativity. See the EU page.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is no longer a member of the European Union.


The Nolan Principles
Following some scandal or other in the 1990s, the public perception of people in public life (particularly MPs) had hit an all-time low. A government committee was set up to look at standards of behaviour and how to improve them. In 1995, HM Government's 'Nolan Committee' drew up 'The Seven Principles in Public Life' and made them mandatory upon everyone in public life, all the way down from the Prime Minister, MPs, Borough Councillors, Parish Councillors, to the humble Parish Clerk and beyond. The Seven principles are:

These apply to everyone in public office including those elected or appointed to public office (nationally or locally); those appointed to work in the civil service; local government, the police; courts and probation services; Non-Departmental Public Bodies and in the health, education, social and care services, and those in the private sector delivering public services.

Codes of Conduct
The Localism Act 2011 abolished 'Standards for England', removed the ability of local authorities to suspend members as a sanction for poor behaviour and disbanded local standards committees. It introduced a new offence of failing to declare or register a pecuniary interest. Following amendments to the original Bill during its passage through Parliament it also requires local authorities to develop their own Code of Conduct based on the 'Seven Principles of Public Life' (the 'Nolan Principles') and subject to new 'Openness and Transparency' regulations.

The principal authority (BMBC) is exclusively responsible for receiving, investigating and deciding upon code of conduct complaints which relate to the town and parish councils in the Barnsley borough is required to have arrangements to investigate and determine allegations that a local councillor in its area has failed to comply with the local council’s code of conduct.

PTC's own Code of Conduct and other procedural documents are available (in person, by appointment) from PTC Council Offices, Community Centre, Church Street, during working hours up to 2pm. See the Localism Act Overview (Nov 2011) to download the Plain English Guide and the HMG Guide for Councillors (Sept 2013) on Openness and Transparency on Personal Interests.

Qualification of Council Members and Elected Mayors
Under section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972, a person is disqualified from standing as a candidate or being a member of a local authority (in our case, either PTC or BMBC), if they:

HM Government ran a consultation in Sept. 2017 about the disqualification criteria additional to 'Section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972.' Of particular interest is Page 9 of the Consultation Document, listing the existing criteria applying to all levels of governance, including Parish/Town Councils and to co-opted members.

Officialdom Links
Penistone Mug from Hallmark Card ShopFirst the local stuff:

General:

Planning Resources:

Openness and Transparency:


Back Top Home     Aesop: 'We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.'