Terms Of Reference

1. Background
1.1 Blackrod Town Council has resolved to produce a Neighbourhood Plan (The Plan) and has determined that The Plan shall cover the entire area within the Blackrod parish boundary.
1.2 The Town Council, while retaining full responsibility for The Plan, recognises that the content of The Plan must be driven by the community and draw on skills and expertise from outside the Council.
1.3 A Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has been created to lead the project to successful completion. The Steering Group sits as the Project Team for project management and decision making purposes and will lead the preparation of the Blackrod Neighbourhood Plan. The Group will guide and agree the content of The Plan and all associated evidence and analysis activities.
2. Name
2.1 The name of the group shall be the Blackrod Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. (BNPSG)
3. Purpose
The purpose of the BNPSG is the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan and fulfilment of all the relevant associated tasks leading to its adoption. The key objective is to produce a sound Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish and Town of Blackrod that defines the spatial planning policy priorities identified by the community. It will take into account all representations made during the plan making process and having regard to all relevant existing plans and evidence.
In undertaking this, its further objectives will be to:
3.1 Provide a locally accountable and representative lead for compiling The Plan.
3.2 Agree a project timetable and endeavour to secure compliance.
3.3 Agree the initial scope of The Plan prior to early public engagement.
3.4 Ensure the Neighbourhood Plan is supported by an effective on-going programme of communication and consultation with the community, businesses, Bolton Council, and other key third parties by agreeing a project communication, consultation and engagement strategy.
3.5 Actively support and promote the preparation of the Blackrod Neighbourhood Plan throughout the duration of the project.
3.6 Consider the options and develop policies to inform the future development and use of land in the neighbourhood area.
3.7 Be aware of the development areas identified in the Local Plan, including establishing of further development areas if they are required.
3.8 Identify sources of funding.
3.9 Liaise with statutory and other relevant authorities and organisations to ensure The Plan is as comprehensive and inclusive as possible.
3.10 Identify ways of involving the whole community and gather the views and opinions of as many residents, groups and organisations in the community as possible.
3.11 Determine the types of consultation and information gathering to be used.
3.12 Liaise with, and direct the work of, consultants and specialists engaged to further The Plan as appropriate.
3.13 Be responsible for the analysis arising from such consultation and the production and distribution of the final reports.
3.14 Conform to national policies and Bolton Council’s Local Plan and EU and Human Rights legislation as appropriate.
3.15 Report back regularly to Blackrod Town Council on progress, significant issues, budgetary implications and present draft Neighbourhood Plan for their information. 3.16 Present key documents and the draft Neighbourhood Plan for consultation with local residents and businesses, Bolton Council and the Independent Examiner, and assist in arrangements for the Referendum.
3.17 Present recommendations for the implementation of The Plan.
4. Membership and Conduct
4.1 The BNPSG shall be formed from current town councillors and local members of the community and shall include no fewer than five and up to a maximum of 12 members (no more than two to be Town Councillors in any capacity). The Town Clerk to be present in a supporting role and as responsible person for budgetary control. Bolton MBC Planning Strategy representative can be present in an ex-officio, nonvoting capacity.
4.2 The BNPSG may co-opt additional support to carry out specific tasks for as short or long a period as necessary.
4.3 Membership is voluntary.
4.4 All members of the BNPSG must abide by the Code of Conduct of Blackrod Town Council and in doing so must submit a register of interests.
4.5 All members of the BNPSG must declare any personal interest that may be perceived as being relevant to the decisions or recommendations made by it. This may include membership of an organisation, ownership or interest in land or business or any other matter likely to be relevant to the work undertaken by the BNPSG.
4.6 In the interests of probity and to avoid matters of vested interest there may be occasions where individuals, representatives of community organisations and other stakeholders can provide input during the process as opposed to formally being on the steering group. These would include for example: Ward Councillors, Landowners, Developers, Estate Agents and Property Investors. These additional people will not have any voting rights.
4.7 A person shall cease to be a member of the BNPSG upon notifying the Chair in writing of their wish to resign.
4.8 The Chair and Vice-chair of the BNPSG will be appointed by Blackrod Town Council. Or The Chair and Vice-chair of the BNPSG will be elected by the members of the BNSPG at its first meeting after any nominations are seconded, and then by show of hands only if more than one candidate is nominated. If only one candidate is nominated and seconded then they are automatically appointed.
4.9 In the absence of the Chair or Vice Chair, the BNPSG will elect a Chair from the members present at the meeting.
5. Supporting Officers and Administration
5.1 Administrative support for the group may involve appointing officers, as required, including a Secretary, which will be appointed by a simple majority of the BNPSG.
6. Meetings
6.1 The BNPSG shall arrange its own meeting schedule but should endeavour to meet monthly as a minimum. At least 72 hours’ notice of a meeting will be given to members by email and such notice shall detail the matters to be discussed. Shorter notice for urgent matters may be given if agreed by a majority of members. All meetings will take place in Blackrod Town Council Offices unless agreed otherwise.
6.2 Matters requiring a vote shall be decided by a simple majority of votes of the BNPSG members present. The Chair of the meeting has a casting vote.
6.3 The BNPSG is quorate provided all of the following apply:
• a minimum of four members are present
• at least one support officer is present
• at least one councillor is present
• at least one community member is present
• the meeting has been properly convened
6.4 The Secretary shall keep a record of meetings and circulate minutes to BNPSG members and the Clerk of the Council not more than 7 days after each meeting. In the absence of a Secretary, the BNPSG shall elect a member present to keep the record.
6.5 BNPSG meetings and activities shall follow good practice. The BNPSG may seek, and shall follow, the guidance of the Town Clerk in regard to any procedural matters.
6.6 The steering group may form sub-committees/working groups.
6.7 Copies of the Town Council’s Code of Conduct will be available at all Neighbourhood Planning meetings.
6.8 Decisions made by the BNPSG should normally be by consensus at steering group meetings. Where a vote is required each member (not ex officio members) shall have one vote. A minimum of four members shall be present where matters are presented for decisions to be taken. A simple majority will be required to support any motion. The Chair, or in their absence the Vice Chair, shall have one casting vote.
7. Affiliations, Interests and Contributions
7.1 The BNPSG shall not itself be affiliated to any political party. It is recognised that town councillors and community members may have such affiliations which shall be declared where relevant.
7.2 The Localism Act and Blackrod Town Council’s Code of Conduct will apply to all members of the BNPSG. All members of the BNPSG must declare any pecuniary interest that may be perceived as being relevant to a decision of the BNPSG. This may include membership of an organisation, ownership of land or a business, or any other matter that may be considered to be relevant. Such declarations are to be recorded and publicly available. Having declared an interest, that member shall not take part in a discussion or vote on the related issue. In the event of disagreement, the decision of the Chair shall be binding.
7.3 Organisations and businesses may assist in the production of the Neighbourhood Plan and may contribute to the cost of producing it. Details of any donations or assistance must be made publicly available and must not influence the recommendations of The Plan.
8. Reporting and Communication
8.1 The BNPSG is established having full-delegated authority from the Town Council to deliver its Plan-making functions up to and including publication of a Preferred Options Consultation Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan. The Chair of the BNPSG will report to each monthly meeting of the Town Council setting out progress on its work.
8.2 The Town Council will approve the Pre-Submission Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan prior to publication for consultation and independent examination.
9. Freedom of Information and Access to Information
9.1 As an extension of the Town Council, and in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (2000), the BNPSG will make available to the public: minutes of meetings, policies and procedures, details of its organisation and structure and information on budget, expenditure and allowances.
10. Finance
10.1 The BNPSG may apply for grant assistance with costs.
10.2 The BNPSG shall not have its own bank account. The Town Council shall be responsible for all budgetary matters, expenditure, monitoring and reporting.
10.3 All items of expenditure shall be referred to the BNPSG for approval and action.
11. Changes to these Terms of Reference
11.1 Should any amendments be required to these Terms of Reference, the changes must be ratified by the BNPSG and the revised Terms of Reference circulated by the Group secretary as appropriate.
12. Dissolution of the BNPSG
12.1 The BNPSG shall continue to operate for two years or until the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan, whichever is the sooner.
12.2 At the conclusion under point 12.1 Blackrod Town Council and the BNPSG should discuss the future working of the BNPSG. If the BNPSG wishes to dissolve it must notify Blackrod Town Council.
August 2016