The review and redrafting of constitutions: guidance for English authorities

Posted on 17/04/2023 by Ed Hammond.

To note: this is one of three connected publications, all aiming to provide technical advice on the operation and review of critical elements of governance framework for local authorities in England. Between them, the three publications look at:

▪ Call-in;
▪ The operation of schemes of delegation to support decision-making;
▪ The review of Council constitutions

A fourth publication, on the operation of full Council meetings, will be published later in 2023.

The intention of this material is not to set out “best practice” but:

▪ to introduce key features of modern council constitutions, and the governance framework, to an audience which might not be specialists in those areas;
▪ to provide officers with responsibility for governance, with general advice to assist them in digging into the technical detail of their constitutional material;
▪ to ensure that, between members and officers, material exists which gives everyone a common understanding of what good governance is, what its key components are (and what the usual components of a council constitutions are), and to introduce the kinds of technical issues that usually need to be addressed to support it.

None of this material should be interpreted as giving legal advice. Councils’ Monitoring Officers are best placed to make accurate judgements about compliance with the law. Nothing in this or other connected material should be seen as challenging that advice, which will reflect the unique context of the council within which it is given.

This material (including this document) covers governance arrangements in England only. In Wales, the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 has put in place substantially different arrangements for the organisation and publication of council constitutions, which are covered by separate statutory guidance.

About the Author: Ed Hammond

Ed leads CfGS's work on devolution, transformation and on support to councils and other public bodies on governance and accountability.