A council accumulates a lot of documents.

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A local council has custody of the "specified papers" of the parish or community. These papers are defined as the public books, writings and papers of the parish or community.

Local government electors have a right to inspect the minutes of the council and other documents. However, due regard is given to the need for security and, in relation to personal information about individuals, for confidentiality.

The council is required regularly to review information that it keeps and to destroy that which does not form part of its official records.

Residents wishing to inspect information are requested to write to ensure that the information they require is still available.


Agenda and Minutes

In order to make decisions and forward policies a council (and its committees, if any) must meet regularly. The responsibility for preparing the agendas for meetings and for producing the minutes of meetings almost invariably is that of the clerk. The agenda specifies the business for a meeting.

The minutes of a meeting are intended to be a formal record of the acts and decisions of the council. The law requires that minutes are kept in a book for that purpose, or on separate pages in a loose leaf form.



Sutton-in-Craven Parish Council accounts are subject to an internal audit by an independent Accountant. The internal auditor cannot be involved in any other way in the business of the council. The internal auditor looks for areas of financial risk and signs a report on the annual return (required by law) to confirm that the system of control is working.

The Government requires yet another audit to be carried out. The Audit Commission appoints auditors for all parishes in the county (known as external auditors) to carry out the final check. All but the largest councils with an annual turnover of £500,000, must complete a document called the annual return to confirm everything is in order. Different signed statements included in the annual return assure the external auditor that the annual return accurately represents the financial management of the council.


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