With the coming into force of the Neighbourhood Plan regs if you want to set up a forum in a non-parished area you will need a written constitution.
Some groups fall at the first hurdle arguing for a year or more over the constitution.
Thankfully Grantnet the voluntary sector support site offers some tips on writing constitutions and a model constitution.
I have tweaked it slightly to deal with issues in the Neighbourhood Plan regs, & the Localism Act notably the requirement for a minimum of 21 members, to ensure the legal bases are covered on consultation and a requirement for a vote on submission of any neighbourhood plan. Would be useful to have some feedback.
The following is an example constitution for a local community group or voluntary organisation. It is not intended for groups wishing to become registered as a charity and such organisations are advised to consult the Charity Commission to ensure their constitution conforms to charity law. No example constitution will necessarily fit a group’s requirements exactly and you may need to add or exclude various sections depending on your group’s activities and objects. The model below will hopefully guide those wanting to write a constitution, but it is important that you tailor it to meet your needs.
Anyplace Neighbourbourhood Form Constitution
The name of the group shall be the ______________Forum, hereafter referred to as the Forum.
The objects of the Forum shall be:
– to improve the area known as ______for the benefit of the inhabitants of the area;
-To promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area;
– To prepare in partnership with the local planning authority a neighbourhood plan for the area or in partnership with other forums any wider area.
-to encourage the goodwill and involvement of the wider community;
– to foster community spirit and encourage civic pride.
In furtherance of the objects, but not otherwise, the Management Committee may exercise the power to:
(i) Promote the health and social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the residents of the area and to work together as residents irrespective of age, sex, ethnicity, ability, religion or political view.
(ii) Promote sustainable development, environmental improvement and conservation by educating, encouraging and assisting the local population in environmental practice, working in partnership with similar groups and organisations.
(iii) Invite and receive contributions and raise funds where appropriate, to finance the work of the Forum, and to open a bank account to manage such funds.
(iv) Publicise and promote the work of the Forum and organise meetings, training courses, events or seminars etc.
(v) Work with groups of a similar nature and exchange information, advice and knowledge with them, including cooperation with other voluntary bodies, charities, statutory and nonstatutory organisations.
(vi) Employ staff and volunteers (who shall not be members of the Management Committee) as are necessary to conduct activities to meet the objects.
(vii) Take any form of action that is lawful, which is necessary to achieve the objects of the Group, including taking out any contracts which it may see fit.
(i) Membership shall be open to anyone who has an interest in assisting the Group to achieve
its aim and is willing to adhere to the rules of the Forum:
- membership is open to all who live and work in the area;
- membership is open to elected Council members
- membership shall be drawn from different places in the neighbourhood and different sections of the community in the neighbourhood.
(ii) Where it is considered membership would be detrimental to the aims and activities of the Group, the Management Committee shall have the power to refuse membership, or may
terminate or suspend the membership of any member by resolution passed at a meeting.
(iii) Any member of the association may resign his/her membership by providing the Secretary with written notice.
(iv) The forum shall have a minimum of 21 members before any decision on neighbourhood planning may be made. The Secretary shall maintain a list of members at all times and publish this online.
5) MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
(i) The Forum shall be administered by a management committee of no less than three (3) people and no more than fifteen (15), who must be at least 18 years of age. Members will
be elected for a period of up to one year, but may be re-elected at the Group’s AGM.
(i) The Forum shall have a committee consisting of:
and any additional officers the Group deems necessary at the meeting required to carry out the required activities.
(i) The committee shall meet at least four times a year. Meetings shall enable the Group to discuss actions and monitor progress to date, and to consider future developments.
(ii) All members shall be given at least fourteen (14) days’ notice of when a meeting is due to take place, unless it is deemed as an emergency, this shall also be publicised in the area to non-members.
(iii) Two-thirds of committee members must be present in order for a meeting to take place.
(iv) It shall be the responsibility of the Chairperson to chair all meetings or a designated deputy in his/her absence. All meetings must be minuted and accessible to interested parties as well as being published on the Forum’s website.
(v) The AGM shall take place no later than three months after the end of the financial year. At least fourteen (14) days’ notice must be given before the meeting takes place.
(vi) All members are entitled to vote at the AGM. Voting shall be made by a show of hands on a majority basis. In the case of a tied vote, the Chairperson or an appointed deputy shall
make the final decision.
(i) Any money acquired by the Group, including donations, contributions and bequests, shall be paid into an account operated by the Management Committee in the name of the Group.
All funds must be applied to the objects of the Group and for no other purpose.
(ii) Bank accounts shall be opened in the name of the Group. Any deeds, cheques etc relating to the Group’s bank account shall be signed by at least two (2) of the following committee members: Chairperson; Treasurer; Secretary.
(iii) Any income/expenditure shall be the responsibility of the Treasurer who will be accountable to ensure funds are utilised effectively and that the Group stays within budget. Official accounts shall be maintained, and will be examined annually by an independent accountant who is not a member of the Group. An annual financial report shall be presented at the AGM. The Group’s accounting year shall run from 01 April to 31 March.
9) NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING
(i) Any decision to undertake, consult on or submit to the local planning authority for approval any neighbourhood Plan shall be subject to a vote of the full forum.
(ii) All consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan will be subject to all residents and businesses whether members of the forum or not.
(iii) The forum shall set up a website to publicise the neighbourhood planning process, record it and seek views of the public.
(iv) The management committee, Neighbourhood Plan Team (as below) shall be delegated to work with the local planning authority and any independent experts and advisor’s on the neighbourhood plan as they see fit.
(v) At the discretion of the forum a Neighbourhood Plan Team can be delegated the tasks of preparing the Neighbourhood Forum other than under 9(i) above. The membership of this team shall be decided by a full meeting of the forum and the team may co-opt members as it sees fit.
9) ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
(i) Any changes to this constitution must be agreed by a majority vote at a special general meeting.
(ii) Amendments to this forum or dissolution of the forum must be conveyed to the Secretary formally in writing. The Secretary and other officers shall then decide on the
date of a special general meeting to discuss such proposals, giving members at least four weeks (28 days) notice.
(i) The Group may be dissolved if deemed necessary by the members in a majority vote at a special meeting. Any assets or remaining funds after debts have been paid shall be
returned to their providers or transferred to local charities or similar groups at the discretion of the Management Committee.
This constitution was adopted at an AGM held at___________ on _____________________ by: