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Local Council, Parish Council, Local Authority and Drainage Authorities Websites

Local Council, Parish Council and Drainage Authorities WebSites

Though we produce a large number of bespoke website solutions for a broad businesses section we also produce websites for very niche groups like Local Councils, Parish Councils, Small Authority's, and Drainage Authority's. Unlike bespoke websites these websites aimed at councils have to follow a very specific set of rules outlined by the British Government in their transparency legislation 2015. Read more about the Transparency legislation here. These regulations are very precise on how local authorities should be publishing, frequency of publication and how it should publish. This has obviously had repercussions on how websites for local councils should be built. Our Local Council website has been built form the ground up to accommodate all requests by the government for authority's to comply with the regulation. Our template site is our own in house coded propriety site. It is designed to comply with all of the requirements of the Transparency Legislation. Here are the features of our website designed for councils:

What do Local Authorities Need To Do?

Due to changes by the government all local councils now have to adhere to the Transparency Code. In particular smaller authorities have been outlined as having to comply but on a smaller scale. These cover areas about Data Protection, Commercial confidentiality, what information should be published and methods of publication. You can read more about the Transparency code for smaller authorities here or download the .gov Transparency code for smaller authorities.pdf here.

Policy Context

Transparency code has been put in place to meet the Governments desire to give more authority to local citizens. It will help people to hold local public bodies accountable for their actions.


A new audit framework has been put in place using the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 that had previously been covered under the Audit Commission Regime. Smaller authorities including parish councils, charter trustees, internal drainage boards and port health authorities with an annual turnover no more than 25,000 will be exempt from any routine external audits under this new audit framework. These smaller authorities will have new transparency requirements laid out in the new code instead of routine audits, allowing local electors and ratepayers to have access to relevant information regarding their accounts and governance.


A clearer picture will be present for local electorate and rate payers according to the Government under the new code. The information is already compiled by the majority of smaller authorities with a turnover no larger than 25,000, therefore the Government doesn't feel it will add any significant burden to those authorities.

Application

The Secretary of State for Communities and local Government has issued this code in accordance with his powers under section 2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 ("the 1980 Act") as amended by section 38 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, issued the code as to the publication of information by our local authorities regarding the discharge of their functions and other matters which he deems are related.


The existing legal framework which allows access to and re-use of public sector information provided by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012), Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 and Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) Regulations 2009 is not superseded or replaced by the new Code.


Any authorities in England with an annual turnover not exceeding 25,000 such as: internal drainage boards, charter trustees, parish councils, and port health authorities ("smaller authorities all fall under the new Code. The definition for these purposes of turnover is the higher of an authorities gross income for the year and its gross expenditure for the year

Data Protection

This can be implemented in a way and still comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 according to the Government. Whenever disclosing information the smaller authorities must ensure that the publication of that information is in compliance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. Publishing names of Councillors, members or senior local authority officers who have taken certain decisions will not be restricted by the Data Protection Act 1998, because of the public interest in the scrutiny of such senior individuals and decision makers. Because of the public interest in accountability and transparency in spending of public money the naming of suppliers that the authority has contracts, including sole traders will not be automatically prohibited information due to the Data Protection act 1998.


The decision-making process of smaller authorities already has provisions in place relating to public access and this new Code will just compliment what is already there. Compliance with current provisions and any subsequent legislation regarding local authority minutes, notices and agendas is still necessary. If information would fall within and exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, or Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) Regulations 2009 it is up to the smaller authority if they should publish the data or rely on the exemption.

Commercial Confidentiality

Unless specific confidentiality clauses are included in contracts the Government does not see any evidence that publishing details regarding contracts with smaller authorities would prejudice procurement exercises or the interests of commercial organisations, or breach commercial confidentiality. Commercial confidentiality should not, in itself, be a reason for smaller authorities to not follow the provisions of this Code and therefore should expect to publish details of contracts newly entered into.

Information Which Should be Published

All smaller authorities should publish any expenditure of more than 100, all end of year accounts, annual governance statement, internal audit report, list of Councillor or member responsibilities, the details of public land and building assets along with minutes, agenda and meeting papers of formal meetings

Information To Be Published Annually

Annually no later than July 1st in each year immediately following the accounting year to which it relates all data and information must be published
In order for the local Government electors council tax payers and ratepayers to scrutinize financial information to exercise their rights to question and make objections to the auditor this is a very important process.

All Items of Expenditure Above 100

Any individual expenditure of an individual item above 100 should be published by smaller authorities. In order to meet requirements a complete list of expenditure transactions will need to be published. Information regarding each individual expenditure above 100 rather than each item purchased


The date of the purchase of any item above 100 must be published along with the purpose of said expenditure, the amount of it along with any Value Added Tax that cannot be recovered.


It is not necessary to publish copies of all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers receipts and other related documents, but they should remain available to be inspected for the specified period set out under regulation 14 of the Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011, or under any equivalent regulations made under section 32 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. This right to inspect can be exercised upon giving reasonable notice.

End of Year Accounts

The Annual Return form includes the format which should be used by the smaller authorities to publish their statement of accounts. When the relevant page of the completed Annual report form is published the requirements will be met. The Responsible Financial Officer and the Chairman of the meeting must approve and sign the statement of accounts for the statement of accounts to be approved.


A copy of the bank reconciliation for the relevant financial year must accompany the statement of accounts along with an explanation of any significant variances (e.g. more than 10 - 15 percent, in line with proper practices) if there are any present in the statement of accounts for the relevant year and previous year. If applicable an explanation of any differences between 'balances carried forward' and 'total cash and short term investments' should also be attached to the statement of accounts.

Compliant Transparency Website

If you would like a compliant Transparency Website then take a look at the feature of our fully compliant Transparency website here.