The powers, functions and responsibilities of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed a constitution which sets out how the Council operates, how decisions are made and the procedures which are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. Some of these processes are required by the law, while others are a matter for the Council to choose.
The constitution is divided into 13 articles which set out the basic rules governing the Council’s business. More detailed procedures and codes of practice are provided in separate rules and protocols at Parts 2 to 6 of the Constitution.
What’s in the Constitution?
Article 1 of the Constitution sets out the purpose of the Constitution. Articles 2 – 13 explain how the key parts of the Council operate, and the rights of citizens.
These Articles are:
Members of the Council
Citizens and the Council
Chairing the Council
Procedures for decision-making
Finance, Contracts and Legal Matters
Review and Review of the Constitution
Suspension, Interpretation and Publication of the Constitution
- Contact their local councillor about any matters of concern to them;
- Obtain a copy of the Constitution;
- Attend meetings of the Council and its committees and public meetings except where, for example, personal or confidential matters are being discussed;
- Inspect agendas and reports except those which contain, for example, personal and confidential matters;
- See reports and background papers, and any record of decisions made by the
- Council and it’s Committees;
- Exercise their rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the
- Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to obtain information held by the
- Complain to the Council under the Council’s own complaints process;
- Complain to the Commissioner of Complaints if they think the Council has not followed its procedures properly. However, they should only do this after using the
- Council’s own complaints process;
- Complain to the Commissioner of Complaints if they believe a Councillor has breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct;
- Inspect the Council’s accounts and make their views known to the Local Government Auditor.
ARTICLE 1 – THE CONSTITUTION
a) enable the Council to provide clear leadership to the community in
partnership with citizens, businesses and other organisations;
b) support the active involvement of citizens in the process of local authority decision making;
c) help councillors represent their constituents more effectively;
d) enable decisions to be taken efficiently and effectively;
e) create a powerful and effective means of holding decision-makers to
f) ensure that no one will review or scrutinise a decision in which they were directly involved;
g) ensure that those responsible for decision making are clearly identifiable to local people and that they explain the reasons for decisions; and
h) provide a means of improving the delivery of services to the community.
ARTICLE 2 – MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL
a) Collectively be the ultimate policy-makers and carry out a number of strategic and corporate management functions;
b) Bring views of their communities into the Council's decision-making process;
c) Effectively represent the interests of their ward and of individual constituents;
d) Deal with individual casework and act as an advocate for constituents in resolving particular concerns or grievances;
e) Respond to constituents' enquiries and representations, fairly and impartially;
f) Participate in the governance and management of the Council;
g) Be available to represent the Council on other bodies; and
h) Maintain the highest standards of conduct and ethics.
a) Councillors will have such rights of access to such documents, information, land and buildings of the Council as are necessary for the proper discharge of their functions and in accordance with the law.
b) Councillors will not make public information which is confidential or exempt without the consent of the Council or divulge information given in confidence to anyone other than a councillor or officer entitled to know it.
c) Subject to the Code of Conduct for Members, the common law rule against bias and the Council Procedure Rules, councillors have a right to speak and vote on any item before the Council and councillors who are members of a committee have a right to speak and vote on any item before that committee.
i. For these purposes, "confidential" and "exempt" information are defined in the Access to Information Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution.
ARTICLE 3 – CITIZENS AND THE COUNCIL
3.1 Citizens' rights
Residents and others who avail of the Council’s services have the following rights in relation to the operation of the Council. Their rights to information and to attend meetings of the Council or its committees are explained in more details in the Access to Information Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution.
Citizens have the right to:
a) Attend meetings of the Council and its committees except where confidential or exempt information is likely to be disclosed, and the meeting is therefore held in private;
b) See reports and background papers (except where confidential or exempt), and any records of decisions made by the Council;
c) Inspect the Council's accounts and make their views known to the Local Government Auditor; and
d) Exercise their rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to obtain information held by the Council.
Citizens have the right to complain to:
a) The Council itself under its complaints, comments and compliments scheme;
b) The Northern Ireland Commissioner of Complaints after using the Council's own complaints, comments and compliments scheme;
c) The Northern Ireland Commissioner of Complaints in respect of an allegation that a councillor (or former councillor) has failed, or may have failed, to comply with the Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors.
3.4 Citizens' responsibilities
Citizens must not be violent, abusing or threatening to councillors or officers and must not wilfully harm things owned by the Council, councillors or officers.
ARTICLE 4 – THE COUNCIL
Those plans and strategies prescribed in legislation to be adopted by the Council; and other plans and strategies, which Council may decide to adopt as a matter of choice.
|Community Plan - 15-year strategic plan|
|Corporate Plan - 4-year strategic plan|
|Performance Improvement Plan - Annual improvement plan|
|Annual Business Plan|
|Employee Personal Development Plan -
Annual plan linked to work objectives & learning & development needs
The budget includes the allocation of financial resources to different services and projects, proposed contingency funds, the council rate base, setting the district rate and decisions relating to the control of the Council’s borrowing requirement, the control of its capital expenditure and the setting of virement limits.
4.2 Functions of the Council
The roles and responsibilities of councils, established in the Local Government Act 2014 and in other legislation, fall into four types:
Direct – councils are responsible for the provision and management of services
Development – councils have a role in facilitating economic and community development initiatives
a) The annual meeting
b) Ordinary meetings
c) Extraordinary meetings
ARTICLE 5 – CHAIRING THE COUNCIL
5.1 The Mayor and in his/her absence, the Deputy Mayor will have the following roles and functions:
a) To uphold and promote the purposes of the Constitution;
b) To preside over meetings of the Council so that its business can be carried out efficiently and with regard to the rights of councillors and the interests of the community;
c) To endeavour to ensure that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community;
d) To promote public involvement in the Council's activities; and
e) To attend such civic and ceremonial functions as the Council and he/she determines appropriate.
5.2 The Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be elected annually at the Annual Meeting of the Council, along with Chair, Vice Chair of Committees and Committee Members.
ARTICLE 6 – DECISION MAKING STRUCTURES
6.1 The Council has determined to operate a committee system as permitted by Section 19 Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014
6.2 Proceedings of the committees shall take place in accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders set out in Part 3 of this Constitution.
ARTICLE 7 – COMMITTEES
- Policy and Resources Committee
- Borough Growth Committee
- Direct Services Committee
- Planning Committee
- Audit and Scrutiny Committee
ARTICLE 8 – JOINT ARRANGEMENTS
ARTICLE 9 – OFFICERS
The management structure of the Council is set out in Part 6 of this Constitution.
The Clerk to the Council is responsible for the discharge of functions by the Council. The Clerk will report to full Council on the manner in which the discharge of the Council’s functions is coordinated and resourced.
The Chief Financial Officer ensures the lawfulness and financial prudence of decision-making. The Chief Finance Officer will report to the full Council and the council’s external auditor if he or she considers that any proposal, decision or course of action will involve incurring unlawful expenditure, or is unlawful and is likely to cause a loss or deficiency or if the council is about to enter an item of account unlawfully.
Officers will comply with the Officers’ Code of Conduct and the Local Government Employee and Councillor Working Relationship Protocol set out in Part 4, Annex K of this Constitution.
ARTICLE 10 – DECISION MAKING
The Council will issue and keep up to date a record of what part of the Council or individual officer has responsibility for particular types of decisions or decisions relating to particular areas or functions.
Decisions of the Council should be made in accordance with the following principles:
a) Proportionality (meaning the action must be proportionate to the results to be achieved);
b) Due consultation (including the taking of relevant professional advice);
c) Respect for human rights, equality and fairness;
d) Presumption in favour of openness;
e) Clarity of aims and desired outcomes;
f) Due consideration to be given to alternative options;
g) Reasons for the decisions to be given provided there is no breach of confidentiality.
Decisions of Council which must be taken by a qualified majority, i.e. by 80% of the votes of members present and voting, are set out in the Council Standing Orders (Standing Order 8) in Part 3 of the Constitution.
The Council meeting will follow the Council Standing Orders set out in Part 3 of this Constitution when considering any matter.
Council committees will follow those parts of the Council Standing Orders set out in Part 3 of the Constitution as apply to them.
Decisions of the Council or a committee of the council will be subject to reconsideration if 15 per cent. of the members of the Council present to the clerk of the Council a requisition on either or both of the grounds specified in section 41(1) of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014. These are:
i. that the decision was not arrived at after a proper consideration of the relevant facts and issues;
ii. that the decision would disproportionately affect adversely any section of the inhabitants of the district.
ARTICLE 11 – FINANCE, CONTRACTS AND LEGAL MATTERS
The management of the Council’s financial affairs will be conducted in accordance with the Financial Procedures Rules set out in Part 3 of this Constitution.
Every contract made by the Council will comply with the Contracts Procedure Rules set out in Part 3 of this Constitution.
The Chief Executive is authorised to institute, defend or participate in any legal proceedings and take all necessary steps in any case where such action is necessary to give effect to decisions of the Council or in any case where legal opinion considers that such action is necessary to protect the Council’s interests.
Where any document will be a necessary step in legal proceedings on behalf of the Council it shall be signed by the Clerk and Chief Executive unless any enactment otherwise requires or authorises, or the Council gives the necessary authority to some other person for the purpose of such proceedings.
The Common Seal of the Council shall be kept secure in the custody of the Clerk and Chief Executive.
ARTICLE 12 - REVIEW AND REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Chief Executive will monitor and review the operation of the Constitution to ensure that the aims and principles of the Constitution are given full effect.
All proposed changes to the Constitution will be debated and agreed by a majority of the Council.
ARTICLE 13 – SUSPENSION, INTERPRETATION AND PUBLICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Articles of this Constitution may not be suspended. The Procedure Rules specified below may be suspended by the full Council to the extent permitted within those Procedure Rules and the law.
A motion to suspend any Procedure Rules will not be moved without notice unless at least one-half of the total number of councillors is present. The extent and duration of suspension will be proportionate to the result to be achieved, taking account of the statements of purpose of the Constitution set out in Article 1.
The following Procedure Rules may be suspended in accordance with Article 13.1.
The ruling of the Mayor in relation to the interpretation or application of this Constitution, or as to any proceedings of the Council, shall not be challenged at any meeting of the Council. Such interpretation will have regard to the purpose of this Constitution contained in Article 1.
A printed copy of this Constitution will be given to each member of the Council upon delivery to the clerk to the Council of that individual’s declaration of acceptance of office on the member first being elected to the Council.
Part 2 – Responsibility for Functions
As set out in Annex D.
Details of any joint committees established by Council
Details of the scheme for delegating decisions to committees and officers.
Part 3 – Rules of Procedure
The rules relating to access to council information for members of the Council and members of the public as provided for in relevant legislation.
Details of how the budget and policy framework is developed and operated.
The rules of debate and procedure for the conduct of meetings of full Council, indicating also where these rules apply to committee and sub-committee meetings.
The Finance Policy Manual and Procurement Policy. (Finance Policy Manual and Procurement Policy)
Part 4 – Codes and Protocols
The Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors issued under section 53 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.
Code of Conduct for Officers issued under section 40 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. (Employee Code of Conduct)
The Local Government Employee and Councillor Working Relationship Protocol issued by the Department of the Environment
Part 5 – Members’ Allowance Scheme
Part 6 – Officers’ Management Structure
This stucture is available in the downloadable version of the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council Constitution.
Versions of the Constitiution and the supporting Annex are available below:
- Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Constitution
- Annex A - Principles of Delegation
- Annex B - Responsibilities for Council Functions
- Annex C - Joint Arrangements
- Annex D - Scheme of Delegation
- Annex E - Access to information procedure rules
- Annex F - Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules
- Annex G - Contracts Procedure Rules
- Annex H - Council Standing Orders
- Annex I - 1 Financial Procedure Rules
- Annex I - Finance Policy Manual
- Annex I - Procurement Policy
- Annex J - Code of Conduct for Councillors
- Annex J - The Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors
- Annex K - Code of Conduct for Officers
- Annex K - Employee Code of Conduct
- Annex L - Local Government Employees and Councillors Protocol
- Annex L - Protocol on Member/Officer Relations
- Annex M - 1 Members Scheme of Allowances
- Annex M - DfC Guidance on Councillors' Allowances