Our constitution gives the council the right to appoint someone to our committee – are they any different to the rest of the committee?
1. The council nominates observer(s)
2. The council nominates either staff members or councillors as trustee(s)
3. The council itself is named in the constitution as a trustee and a staff member sits on the committee to discharge the council’s responsibility
NB In addition to the confusion over what the committee and the members of the committee are called, there is further scope for confusion here as in local authority circles councillors are referred to as ‘members’ and local authority staff as ‘officers’.
In Option 1 the observer merely observes, is not a voting member of the committee and may contribute if invited to do so by the chair. Even if the council is a funder the observer has no special powers or authority over the committee.
In Option 2 the councillors or staff nominated by the council are trustees like all the others and must put the interests of the charity first rather than represent the interests of the council. If there is a conflict of interest they must put the interests of the charity first.
In Option 3 it is the council that is the trustee and the staff member is there to carry out the council’s duties. The individual staff member does not have personal liability. In general, where the Council is the trustee, it acts alone.
Where a local Authority is the Trustee, does it always act alone?
Our Parish Council has written to tell us that they have the right to appoint a trustee to the committee. Is this right?
Where can I find out more about Local Authorities and Charities?
Is there a guide to how councillors and officers should behave on a committee?