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									THE CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL ATTENDING MEETINGS AND INSPECTING DOCUMENTS RIGHTS OF THE PUBLIC

In terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (the 1973 Act) as amended by Section 2 of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985, members of the public have the following rights:1. Rights of Access to Meetings –All meetings of the Council, Committees and Sub-Committees are open to the public except where the public are excluded because of the nature of the business. Access to Documents – The law requires that, except in the circumstances outlined below, copies of the agenda for a meeting of the Council, or one of its Committees or SubCommittees, are open for inspection at least three clear days before the meeting. The exceptions to this are –   where a meeting is convened at shorter notice; where an extra item is added to an agenda.

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In addition, the law says that any agenda, item or report is not required to be open to inspection by the public until copies are made available to Councillors. It is normal practice that agendas and related reports are issued at the same time. However, the Council has taken the view that it is within the law if it identifies an item to be considered on the agenda for a meeting and circulates the related report either at a later date or at the meeting. All agendas and reports to be considered in public are available for inspection as soon as they are available to members of the Council at the Reception, City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh (telephone 0131 529 4450). Since May 2003, committee papers have also been published on the intranet at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cpol Some copies of agendas and reports will be available for public use at meetings. 3. Access after meetings – The law requires that the minutes and other documents are to be available for inspection after meetings for a period of 6 years beginning with the date of the meeting. These are available through the Council Secretary’s Office (telephone 0131 529 4091). The following is an extract from the 1973 Act – 50C1 After a meeting . . . the following documents shall be open to inspection . . . period of six years . . . namely -

(a)

The minutes, or copy of the minutes, of the meeting, excluding so much of the minutes of the proceedings during which the meeting was not open to the public as disclose exempt information; where applicable, a summary under subsection (2) below; a copy of the agenda for the meeting; and a copy of so much of any report supplied to members of the Council, Committees and Sub-Committees for the meeting as relates to any item during consideration of which the meeting was open to the public.

(b) (c) (d)

2.

Where, in consequence of the exclusion of parts of the minutes which disclose exempt information, the document open to inspection under subsection 1 (a) above does not provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record of the whole or part of the proceedings, the proper officer shall make a written summary of the proceedings or the part, as the case may be. The summary will provide such a record without disclosing the exempt information or where an item is added to the agenda, copies of which are open to inspection by the public, copies of the item and of any report for the meeting relating to the item shall be open for inspection from the time the item is added to the agenda.

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Inspection of Background Papers – So long as copies of the whole or part of a report for a meeting of the Council, Committees and Sub-Committees are required to be open for inspection, the public have a right to inspect certain background papers at the offices of the Council at all reasonable hours. The law allows the Council to charge a reasonable fee for this but generally it is not levied. Otherwise inspection facilities are free. Background papers are documents which relate to the subject matter of a report, disclose any fact or matter on which the report is based and have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report – but exclude any published work. Requests for inspection of such documents should be made to the appropriate officer who will be identified in the report.

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Copies of Documents – Where a document is open to inspection, any person may make copies or extracts from the document or obtain a photographic copy or extracts from the document on payment of a fee of 10p per side of photocopying.

Additional Access for Members 6. Any document in the possession or under the control of the Council which contains material relating to any business to be transacted at a meeting is open to inspection by a member of the Council (subject to paragraph 7 below). Where it appears to the proper officer that a document discloses certain specified categories of exempt information it is not required to be open to inspection by a member. This relates mainly to personal information, information relating to legal or criminal proceedings, or matters concerned with negotiations or industrial relations.

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Other rights which elected members have under common law also apply.

Publication of Additional Information 9. A local authority must maintain a register stating the name and address of every member of the Council and the ward he/she represents, and the name and address of every member of the Committees and Sub-Committees of the Council. The register is open to inspection by the public through the Lord Provost and Members Services Unit in City Chambers (Telephone 0131 529 3186). Similar information is also available under ‘Council’ on the internet at www.edinburgh.gov.uk. A Council is required to maintain a list specifying powers delegated to its officers, and stating the title of the officer by whom each of those powers is exercisable. The list must be open to public inspection, but excludes short-term delegations of less than six months’ duration. The list forms the Council’s Scheme of Delegation to Officers, as amended from time to time. It can be examined by contacting the Council Secretary’s Office in the City Chambers (Telephone 0131 529 4091). It is also available under ‘Council’ on the internet at www.edinburgh.gov.uk A register of byelaws must be maintained for inspection. A copy of current byelaws and also management rules for operating various public places and buildings managed by the Council can be inspected by contacting the Council Solicitor (Telephone 0131 529 3605). The Council routinely publishes information in accordance with its Publication Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act 2002.

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Inspection of other Records 13. The Council is required to make proper arrangements for any records which belong to it and are considered worthy of preservation. These can be inspected by contacting the City Archivist in the City Chambers (Telephone 0131 529 4616).

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