Working groups are the backbone of town council business. Although they make no decisions and spend no money, they are the forum where councillors discuss ideas, research information, and consider what recommendations might be forwarded to committees.
Working groups are set up by committees to carry out specified activities; sometimes the area in which they work (terms of reference) is wide, sometimes very specific.
They meet during office hours to keep staff costs lower.
We have two kinds of working groups although they operate in the same way. Task and Finish groups are special kind of working group that look at just one topic and which disband once that task is complete and recommendations have been made to its parent committee. The other kind is just referred to as a “working group” and typically works in an area of interest rather than on a specific task and continues until its parent committee feels in is no longer useful.
Task and Finish groups can be converted to ordinary working groups if it becomes apparent that their work is likely to continue.
An example of a long-lived working group would be the town improvement group (TIG) which has run for many years. An example of a task and finish group might be the one that met to discuss bath clean air zone plans and formulate behalf of town council stop.
Working groups meetings are not public meetings, it must be remembered that they cannot spend money or make any decisions on behalf of the town council. The meetings are private to allow councillors to explore all kinds of ideas – including those, that in reality turnout not to be such a good one. There is a problem in committees that speculations from councillors may be misunderstood by those to be present as being actual council policy. There is a big difference between thinking about something, looking at something in detail and actually implementing it. Working groups allow councillors to be off-the-record without starting rumours flying.
Nevertheless, members of the public are often invited to sit on working groups where appropriate. We regularly have external members on groups such as the events working group which makes recommendations for the running of council events such as the Christmas celebrations, Remembrance Day, the Summer Event etc.
Working groups have a chair to run their meetings and a member of staff to clerk. Whilst they do have agendas, most chairs are fairly liberal about what can be discussed. They also have notes (minutes) which keep brief details of the subject discuss and particularly record any recommendations to be passed to the committee in the form of recommendation as well as any actions by staff and councillors (usually around research for future meetings). We do not normally publish these notes as they contain no decisions,
For many councillors, time spent on working groups actually represents many more hours work than committee meeting work. The number of working groups varies, and we often merge groups whose areas have begun to overlap over time to keep the numbers down.
Delegation of Services
Community Partnership Funding
Great War Task and Finish
Laverton Institute Trust Management Working Group (LITMWG)
Operational and Organisational
Delegation of Services