Steering Group Terms of Reference

1     Background

Ashbury Parish Council resolved on 11 July 2016 to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) for the parish of Ashbury, hereafter known as the Parish of Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan (ANP), in accordance with the Localism Act 2011 and relevant Regulations.

Whilst the Parish Council (PC) will oversee and be responsible for the preparation of the ANP, the management has been delegated to a Steering Group (SG). The area for the plan is defined as the Ashbury Parish boundary, as submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council on 24 June 2016.

Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is formally constituted as a working group of the Parish Council.

2     Purpose and Mission Statement

The purpose of the SG is to design and manage a process that will result in the preparation of a draft Neighbourhood Plan for the parish of Ashbury in order to:

“Increase the cohesion and sustainability of the parish as a community for all its residents and businesses through the empowerment of local people to plan the future housing, transport, environment and social and recreational facilities for the whole community.”

The process will be:

  • inclusive – offering the opportunity to participate for everyone who lives or works within the parish
  • comprehensive – identifying all the important aspects of life in the parish for which we need to plan for the future
  • positive – bringing forward proposals which will improve the quality of life in the parish.

3     Tasks the Steering Group will undertake:

3.1 Prepare an outline process for producing the ANP.

3.2 Promote the process of preparing the ANP to encourage participation and the submission of views and ideas.

3.3 Organise meetings and establish working groups as it considers necessary to carry out the functions specified by the SG.

3.4 Assess existing evidence about the needs and aspirations of the parish.

3.5 Liaise with other relevant organisations (including neighbouring parishes, the District and County Councils, Police, etc.) to secure their involvement in the process.

3.6 Analyse the views, ideas and proposals received during the planning process and use them to prepare a draft Plan.

3.7 Keep the PC fully informed of progress via monthly reports to the PC through a standing agenda item.

3.8 Formulate the draft ANP within the national context of the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and work with the Vale of White Horse District Council to ensure that Ashbury’s Neighbourhood Plan is consistent with the developing VWHDC’s Local Plan and 5- year housing supply targets.

3.9 Submit the draft plan to the Parish Council for its approval. The ANP, once accepted by the PC, will be subject to a Parish Referendum requiring a minimum 50% vote in favour to be adopted by the parish.

4     Membership and Quorum

4.1 Membership of the SG shall comprise of no less than five members who should all either reside or work in the Parish.

4.2 The membership of the SG should aim to be representative of the parish as a whole, and best efforts shall be made to ensure that there is a balance of gender, age and place of residence in the parish, so that a wide breadth of opinion, skills and experience is available to the SG.

4.3 The SG shall review its membership from time to time.

4.4 The SG membership shall also include at least one Councillor nominated by the PC, who shall be responsible for making the report of the SG to the PC’s regular meeting.

4.5 The SG shall be quorate with one half of its voting members, subject to a minimum quorate of three.

4.6 If less than three voting members are present, the meeting shall stand adjourned.

5     Chairman, Officers and Clerking Arrangements

5.1 The SG shall elect a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman from their number.

5.2 If the Chairman is not present, the Deputy Chairman shall take the meeting. If neither is present, members shall elect a Chairman for the meeting from amongst their number.

5.3 The SG Chairman shall act as spokesperson for the Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

5.4 The Chairman shall ensure that appropriate clerking arrangements are in hand for SG meetings and that Agendas, Papers and Minutes are properly prepared, distributed and publicised (including to members of the PC). The latter will publicise the minutes via their usual methods.

5.5 The Agenda shall normally be despatched to members three clear days before the date of the meeting by e-mail.

5.6 The SG shall keep Minutes of its meetings to be recorded and open to public scrutiny.

5.7 The SG and all its proceedings and communications (including ANP emails in whatever system) shall be subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

5.8 Parish Council insurance will cover the previously agreed activities of the Steering Group and volunteers, but SG officers, in liaison with the Parish Clerk, need to ensure that terms of the insurance are not breached

6     Finance

6.1 The SG’s work will be financed through grants and funding, applied for and held by the PC, who will ring-fence the funds for Neighbourhood Plan purposes only.

6.2 The SG shall, in consultation with the Council’s RFO, produce a budget for the preparation of the Plan and estimates of when payments are likely to be made. Notification of all planned expenditure will be given to the PC before actual costs are incurred.

6.3 Invoices will be made out in the name of the Parish Council who will pay them at their next scheduled parish council meeting.

6.4 The Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan Project account will be audited as part of PC’s internal and external audit procedures.

6.5 The Chairman, in conjunction with the PC’s Responsible Finance Officer, shall keep the PC informed of on-going budgetary requirements for the Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan.

6.6 Non-voting, advisory officers such as Planning or other Consultants or experts that charge for their services, may be co-opted or engaged by the SG (with the approval of the PC).

6.7 Orders for goods and services, and contracts issued for work on the Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan must comply with Ashbury PC’s Financial Regulations as then in force. The RFO shall be responsible for placing such orders and issuing calls for tender for any contracts.

7     Frequency, Timing and Procedure of Meetings

7.1 The SG shall meet normally on a monthly basis and not less than ten times a year or as may be required.

7.4 Any changes to SG Terms of Reference shall require PC approval.

7.5 The meetings shall be conducted in accordance with set procedure to be determined and agreed by the SG.

7.6 It is expected that all SG members abide by the principles and practice of the Parish Council Code of Conduct including declarations of interest.

8     Dissolving the Steering Group

At the conclusion of the Neighbourhood Plan project the Parish Council and Steering Group should discuss the future working of the Steering Group. If the Steering Group wishes to dissolve it must notify the Parish Council.

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