The Constitution

Hanford and Trentham Neighbourhood Forum

Constitution

Name

1. The name of the Forum shall be the Hanford and Trentham Neighbourhood Forum (the forum)

Purpose of the Forum

2. To promote and improve the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the Neighbourhood Area by for example addressing issues of local concern, including but not limited to, the general environment ie safety, security amenities and appearance ie ensuring high standards of town planning, urban design and architecture.

3. The Forum aims to give a voice to members of the Forum and to reflect their aspirations and concerns. To promote the Neighbourhood Area and in collaboration with the City of Stoke-on-Trent and with other relevant organisations and individuals, to work to sustain and improve the Neighbourhood Area’s economy and environment and the quality of life and amenity of its residents, businesses and visitors.

4. The Forum will achieve its purpose by –

a) Seeking to obtain and maintain Qualifying Body designation by Stoke-on-Trent City Council as the Neighbourhood Planning Forum for the area.

b) Undertaking any activity permitted under the law.

c) Making representations as to any planning or licensing issue, whether or not consultation of the Forum is required.

d) Consulting and whenever possible co-operating with Stoke-on-Trent City Council (by Elected Members and/or Officers), other governmental, policing or public bodies and other stakeholders interested in, affecting or affected by any actual, likely or proposed state of affairs within the Neighbourhood Area.

e) Producing a Neighbourhood Plan for the promotion of the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the Neighbourhood Area.

f) Responding to changes in primary or secondary legislation as may be appropriate

g) Holding open discussions with other groups and bodies relevant to the Neighbourhood Area on issues of concern to or impact upon the Neighbourhood Area.

h) Improving and supporting cross border neighbourhood planning and processes in the area.

i) Supporting and developing projects and other activities that are of benefit to the Neighbourhood Area.

j) Proposing priorities for the Community Infrastructure levy spend and agreeing this with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

k) Encouraging monitoring and contributing to the implementation of the Neighbourhood Plan after it is made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

5. The Forum shall be at all times a non-political organisation that shall act so far as practicable to benefit both Residents and Businesses.

Conduct of the Forum

6. The Forum will seek to establish a close working relationship with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, neighbouring Forums, relevant stakeholders based inside and outside the Neighbourhood Area together with other key interests that will ensure positive relations and good progress between all parties.

7. The close working relationship will include but not be limited to the clauses in this constitution relating to

a) the neighbourhood area, strategic development sites and who votes in a neighbourhood plan referendum

b) the working relationships and sharing of information

c) the Council’s Duty to Support

d) the Forum’s consultative status for areas outside the Neighbourhood Area

e) the Forum’s influence over Community Infrastructure Levy spend both inside and adjacent to the Neighbourhood Area and its role with regard to community asset development and transfer

8. Correspondence within the Forum will preferably be by email.

9. The Forum shall maintain public email address to which correspondence can be emailed.

10. The registered address of the Forum shall be ……

Membership of the Neighbourhood Forum

11. The Forum will encourage as wide a representation of the local business and residential community as possible to represent as far as is realistic the range of people, voluntary groups and business in the Neighbourhood Area. It will actively seek individual membership to represent the social and ethnic make-up of the Neighbourhood Area.

12. Membership of the Forum shall be open to

a) Residents who live in the Neighbourhood Area

b) Businesses or organisations who operate from within the Neighbourhood Area

c) Persons or organisations who own land or property in the Neighbourhood Area

d) Developers or agents appointed formally by anyone in category b) or c) above.

Each of these categories of membership shall be eligible to propose and elect representatives onto the Neighbourhood Forum Steering Group at the Inaugural and subsequent Annual General Meetings.

Ward Councillors shall be de-facto non-voting members.

13. All applicants to join the Forum will be required to complete a membership application form. Applicants will be required to

a) State the category of membership being applied for ie residential or business/organisation member

b) Provide residential address or business address that lies within the Neighbourhood Area

c) An email address (if possible) and telephone number

14) Any individual who is an elected member of Stoke-on-Trent City Council may become an Elected Member of the Forum on completion of a membership application form.

15. Any individual who both lives and works in the Neighbourhood Area must choose to be either a Residential Member or Business Member when completing their membership application form.

16. Members of the Forum will be expected to resign their membership if their change of circumstances means that they no longer meet the eligibility criteria (see above para. 12)

17. The Secretary may remove any Member where the Member has failed to abide by the Code of Conduct of the Forum.

18. The Forum will continue to encourage Forum Supporters (see para 21 below) and other individuals eligible to become Members to join so as –

a) To ensure membership continues to exceed 21 Members

b) To seek to maintain a membership that represents the whole community balanced appropriately between residents, representative organisations and businesses.

c) To provide good community intelligence to inform the pursuit of its purposes and justify the pursuit of its purpose as stated in paras. 2 to 5 above.

19. In the event that membership of the Forum falls below 21 Members, the Forum shall suspend its activity unless and until the number of members again rises to or above 21.

20. Forum Supporters may not do any public act on behalf of the Forum or make any public representation in the name of the Forum save to the extent which may be permitted by the Steering Group or endorsed by a General Meeting.

Forum Supporters

21. “Forum Supporter” status shall be open to

a) Residents who live in the Neighbourhood Area

b) Businesses or organisations who operate from within the Neighbourhood Area

c) Persons or organisations who own land or property in the Neighbourhood Area

d) Developers or agents appointed formally by anyone in category b) or c) above.

22. Forum Supporters are individuals who support the idea of a Forum, and who may from time to time be able to give practical support to the Forum as set out in paras. 2 – 5, but who prefer not to commit to full membership.

23. Forum Supporters will be required to provide a contact email address. In return they will receive copies of minutes, invitations to attend General Meetings etc.

Forum General Meetings

24. The Forum shall hold General meetings in public at intervals no greater than half yearly, in each case in a location within the Neighbourhood Area.

25. At least 14 days email notification must be given to Members of the agenda with the date and time of the holding of the general meeting. This information to also be posted on all community notice boards within the Neighbourhood Area.

26. At least 12 Forum Members must be present at the start of a General Meeting for it to be declared quorate.

27. All Neighbourhood Members shall be entitled to attend General Meetings, to stand for the Steering Group and to propose and vote for motions.

28. Proposed agenda items for a General Meetings must be made to the Chair at least 48 hours before the meeting is due to start.

29. Individuals who are not Members of the Forum (ie Forum Supporters) shall be welcome to attend General Meetings of the Forum. Forum Supporters shall not vote on any issue and shall not be permitted to address that General Meeting unless specifically authorised by the Chair of the General Meeting.

30. Upon any vote each business registered in the neighbourhood Area shall have one vote regardless of the number of Business Members who work for that business.

31. Upon any vote each Residential Member shall have one vote. A Residential Member who is also a Business Member shall still have only one vote to be used either as a Residential Member or Business member vote.

32. Members must register and declare any conflict of interest before commenting or voting on any issue.

33. All votes shall count equally in a single ballot. Abstentions shall be counted. In the event of the number of abstentions outnumbering either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote the Chair will be required to withdraw the agenda under consideration by the General Meeting. The presence of abstainers at General Meetings does count towards making up a quorum. Postal and telephone votes do not count. Proxies cannot be given and Members must be present in person.

34. The Forum may establish working ‘sub-groups’ to address particular issues. Membership of these ‘sub-groups’ will be open to individuals who have the knowledge/experience to make a meaningful contribution, without necessarily being Neighbourhood Forum Members. Each ‘sub-group’ will have at least one Steering Group Member acting as a link to the Steering Group.

35. The General Meeting may

a) Receive and comments on reports from the Steering Group

b) Discuss and debate any issue relating to the purpose of the Neighbourhood Forum as detailed in paras 2 to 5

c) Approve the annual report and accounts where relevant

d) Adopt constitution amendments in accordance with para 52

e) Approve the draft Neighbourhood Plan

Inaugural General meetings and AGMs

36. An Annual General Meeting shall be held around a year from the Inaugural or first General Meeting and thereafter annually. The AGM will receive and vote on a financial statement from the Forum and a brief annual report. The main business of the AGM will be to elect any vacant steering group places for the following year.

37. All Forum Members shall be entitled to stand when elections are held to the Steering Group. Every effort should be made to ensure that the Steering Group properly represents the interests of the Neighbourhood Area.

38. At the inaugural General Meeting a completely fresh Steering Group shall be elected – which may, but need not, comprise some or all of those Forum Members previously acting as the Steering Group

Composition of the Steering Group

39. The Forum shall have a Steering Group, which shall manage the Forum

40. The Steering Group shall comprise ten members all of whom have stood for election.

41. At any one time the Steering Group shall include at least four Business and Organisational Members.

42. If a not for profit organisation wants to take a place on the Steering Group then it can take priority over either Resident or Business members.

43. The Steering Group shall select itself the officer positions of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary to serve terms up to two years. Officers may stand for re-election.

Steering meetings and Steering Group Operation

44. The Steering Group shall hold Steering Group Meetings as often as is necessary to pursue the purposes of the Forum as set out in paras 2 – 5, but not less than quarterly.

45. If any vacancy occurs, the Steering group may co-opt another Forum Member, who may then stand for election at the next General Meeting.

46. The Steering Group may delegate responsibilities on specific matters to such persons as it considers appropriate, including administrative and financial support from a third party.

47. All Steering Group decisions must be agreed on a simple majority by a quorum of no fewer than seven Steering Group Members. The Steering Group will not be bound to reach a majority decision on all planning matters and applications. Where it does not, its officers will represent the range of views within the Forum fairly and impartially.

48. The Chair of the Steering Group shall

a) Chair General Meetings and call and chair Steering Group Meetings.

b) Represent the range of views fairly and impartially to relevant interested parties

c) In the event of a tie in any vote at any General and Steering Group Meeting the Chair will not have a casting vote, and will ensure the minutes fairly record the proceedings leading up to the vote and the result of the vote.

d) Act on behalf of the Forum and represent it externally.

e) Interpret this constitution. Interpretation shall only be overturned by six or more of the rest of the Steering Group Members in which case the disagreement shall be referred to the next General Meeting.

49. The Vice – Chair of the Steering Group shall assume the Chair’s responsibilities when the Chair is unavailable.

50. The Secretary shall

a) Organise take and circulate minutes of General Meetings of the Forum, take and circulate minutes of Steering Group meetings

b) Ensure that, subject to the Chair’s approval, the minutes of General and Steering Group Meetings are uploaded to the Forum’s website within 21 days of each meeting.

c) Maintain and make available for inspection by Forum Members a copy of this Constitution.

d) Maintain and make available for inspection by Forum Members an up to date list of Forum Members and Forum Supporters, recording the details set out in paras 13 and 23 resp.

51. The Treasurer shall

a) Be responsible for maintaining the accounts of the Neighbourhood Forum

b) Be responsible for presenting an annual budget for the following year to the Neighbourhood Forum

Constitutional Amendment

52. No constitutional amendments shall take effect unless and until the decision of a simple majority at a Steering Meeting is ratified by a two thirds majority at a General meeting preceding which not less than 21 days email notice of the proposed amendment has been given to Members

Duration of the Forum

53. The duration of the Forum shall be five years from the date of designation

54. The Forum may be dissolved by mutual consent at an earlier date once the neighbourhood Plan has been adopted see para 52

55. The duration of the Forum may be extended, either to complete the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan, or if agreed by Members (and conditional on para 52) in order to deliver the Neighbourhood Plan, or other aspects of Localism.

Dissolution

56. In the event of the dissolution of the Forum, any net assets/monies shall go to one or more local community based organisation(s), as agreed by the simple majority of the Forum