Proposed naming protocol for council documents:
One issue with the Public Council Records as an archive of information for Councillors is that there is no coherent easy means of either finding or accessing council records beyond individually accessing and downloading each agenda and minute and scanning them to discover if any information is available.
When any is found there is no easy way to abstract the location of the information for assembly with other information on the same subject. In effect Council has no coherent “memory” which can be accessed by current participants who bear a statutory responsibility to act and behave in accord with the obligations and policies established by predecessors so that they can know what those policies and obligations are and if necessary change them.
The primary source of legally reliable information about Council policies, obligations and commitment is the system of Agenda and Minutes which is governed under Local Government Act 1972 schedule 12 part VI Paragraph 41 which forms a solid platform on which a Council Memory can be built. (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/70/schedule/12/paragraph/41).
In essence there is nothing, other than obligations contained in the statutory instruments governing local authorities that can be regarded as legally valid in the proceedings and policy of any Local Council unless it can be associated with a “minute” record documenting a decision by council creating that policy and obligation.
This means that the “minute book” of a council however recorded is a vital aspect of a council and there are special provisions for the management and obligations for the retention of Minute Books. In the interests of clarity – at this stage I have made no enquiry into the existence or maintenance of the Minute Book of Dunsfold Parish Council but confine this proposal to the management of documents, stored electronically which purport to make available to contents of the “Minute Book” to facilitate access to these records by Councillors and the general public. The legal power governing these records seems to stem from section 142 of the 172 Local government Act (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/70/section/142). Which covers how local authorities can facilitate the ready availability of information to those who require access to them.
By this route we can infer that it would be valid under section 142 to make electronic files of some sort available to anyone which would facilitate access to the information contained. Dunsfold Parish Council for completeness we can trace the decision to deploy the current website to a resolution which was item 11 on the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held in June 2019 under this proposal the minute of this resolution can be found at the follow in address 1906MM11. This code represents a unique location in a specific minute in the DPC record which can easily be found by anyone familiar with the naming convention proposed here.
This proposal represents a very small but essential element in what I hope will become an easy and very valuable mechanism to enable Councillors to gain situational awareness of the large number of topics that this Council has been involved in. I hope it will provide a useful way for councillors and others to navigate the Council record and a mechanism to assemble and store ad hoc routes through the Council record to meet the objectives and purposes of the time.
Simply put the addressing scheme works as follows.
Financial Year. Month.(number in month optional).body.document.paragraph in document.
For technical reasons to facilitate correct computational sorting we have to use the financial year which runs from month 04 = April to month 15 = march
2214 as the date code = February 2023 = this is the most complicated part of the code which otherwise is quite straight forward.
04 = April
05 = May
06 = June
07 = July
08 = August
11 = November
12 = December
13 = January
14 = February
15 = March
The body or meeting code is a single letter:
M= full council
C= Commons Committee
F= Finance Committee
The optional “number in month” deals with the rare possibility that for some reason there might be more than one meeting of a body in a month – if there is no number then “1” is assumed and if there is a second meeting then that meeting will be “2”
The document code designates whether informational or determinant
A= agenda and should contain proposals and working information
M= Minutes and will document resolutions and decisions which will either contain within the document the exact decisions made or at ;least will endorse the working papers and information made in preliminary document.
Paragraph in document provides the specific location in the document of the information, this might be a paragraph or item number or where there is non some other means of identifying the location
01 = para or item 1
05 = item 5
PS= public session
2306E2A15 = item 15 in the second EGM held in June 2023
1914MM04 = Item 4 of the Minutes of the only Full council meeting held in February 2019