Bedford Forum Constitution

THE BEDFORD FORUM – CONSTITUTION

1. Name and Area

 1.1 The Forum is to be known as : The Bedford Forum

 1.2 The Forum covers the Area shown on the attached map.

2. Aims and Objectives

 2.1 The aims of the Forum are:

  1. To improve and promote the social, economic, and environmental well-being of the defined area.
  2. To conserve and improve the distinctive heritage and character of the area, with particular focus on the unique riverside environment
  3. To improve the quality of life in the area

3. Principles and Values

 3.1 All members of the Forum, when participating in Forum activities. should follow
the
“Nolan Principles”. These principles are:

  1. Selflessness; they should put the public interest above any personal interest
  2. Integrity; they should not be adversely influenced by obligations to others
  3. Objectivity; their choices and decisions should be based wholly on merit
  4. Accountability; they should submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate
  5. Openness; they should be open and transparent, and avoid secrecy
  6. Honesty; they should declare any personal interests and avoid conflicts of interest
  7. Leadership; they should seek to promote these principles by example

The Forum will apply an Equal Opportunities policy to all its activities.

The Forum will be non-political and will be independent of any party manifesto.

Forum members should not promote specific opinions for political purposes.

4. Activities

 4.1 To achieve its objectives, the Forum will;

  1. Elect a Steering Committee to be responsible for the overall conduct of the Forum
  2. Elect a Management Committee to oversee the ongoing activities of the Forum
  3. Set up sub-Committees and to co-opt members onto them as necessary
  4. Organise at least 4 public meetings a year including an Annual General Meeting
  5. Seek the opinions of all Forum members and other individuals living and working in the area on important issues affecting the area, in order to establish the range of opinions and whether there is a strong consensus on specific issues.
  6. Work in partnership with other groups and organisations in canvassing opinions.
  7. Where appropriate, bring pressure to bear on the relevant authorities to take into account the consensus opinion on particular issues.
  8. Promote and communicate its objectives and activities by maintaining a website, and communicate by various means including mail, e-mail and social media.
  9. Do anything which is lawful to assist the Forum in achieving its objectives, including
  1. Applying to be a statutory Neighbourhood Forum and submitting a Neighbourhood Plan
  2. Raising funds to support Forum activities.
  1. Membership

 5.1 Anyone aged 16 and over and resident in the area or working in the area is eligible to be a
full member of the Forum

 5.2 A person who does not live or work in the area but is a recognised representative of a
group of residents, is eligible to become a full member of the Forum

 5.3 Only full members of the Forum are entitled to vote.

 5.4 The Forum must have at least 21 full members.

 5.5 The Forum will keep an up-to-date register of members’ names and contact details solely

for the purposes of involving them in the work of the Forum. Names and contact details of members will not be passed on to any other organisation or any business. The Forum will have written Data Protection policy.

 5.6 The Forum may suspend from membership anyone who brings the Forum into disrepute
by, for example, repeatedly flouting its principles and values (expressed above). Suspended members are not entitled to be members of any Forum committees. They are not entitled to vote and not entitled to attend or speak at any Committee or sub-Committee meetings.

 5.7 The Forum is committed to consulting and involving young people in its work. Anyone
aged under 16 and resident in the area is eligible to be a junior member of the Forum.

 5.8 The Forum recognises that not everyone who cares about the area also lives or works in
the area. The Forum may, at the discretion of the Committee, invite anyone aged 16 or over and not living or working in the area but having a clear interest in it, to become an associate member.

  1. Management Committee

 6.1 The Management Committee (The Committee) is elected by full members at the Forum’s
Annual General Meeting and consists of at least 5 members. The procedure used to elect the committee should aim to achieve a broad representation from the different groups in the area.

 6.2 The Committee, at the first meeting after its initial formation, and subsequently
as required, shall elect from its own number, the following officers: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

 6.3 The Committee may at its own discretion, appoint other officers to be responsible
for functions specified by it, including functions normally carried out by the officers named above.

 6.4 The Committee can co-opt people to be members of the committee at its own

discretion. Co-opted members do not have a vote in any committee decisions.

 6.5 The Committee agrees a schedule for its meetings and normally meets at least

6 times during the year. Normally these meetings are face to face but the

Committee can meet by other means, including by e-mail or by telephone conferencing, if all members of the Committee agree to do so.

 6.6 The quorum at meetings of the Committee is four or at least one half of the

members, whichever is larger. The “indicative decisions” of inquorate meetings have no effect until and unless they are ratified by a quorate meeting.

 6.7 Members of the Committee are expected to attend meetings of the
Committee. Should a member not attend and fail to send apologies for three

consecutive meetings, they are understood to have resigned from the Committee.

Any member who fails to attend four consecutive meetings with or without apologies

is deemed to have resigned from the Committee.

6.8 Minutes of Committee meetings are kept as draft minutes. Once they have

been confirmed at a subsequent meeting, they will be published on the Forum’s website.

6.9 Any full member of the Forum may request to attend a Committee meeting and

the Committee may invite guests to attend a meeting, at their discretion.

7. General Meetings / Public Meetings

7.1 The Forum is run solely by its members. General Meetings of its members are its

sovereign decision making body. Between General Meetings, the Forum delegates decision making powers to the Committee.

7.2 General Meetings are usually public meetings open to non-members to attend.

7.3 The Committee organises an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of its members between 11 and 15 months after the previous AGM. It gives at least 14 days notice of the meeting to members via the Forum website and/or other appropriate means.

7.4 Business transacted at the AGM includes:

  1. Consideration of the Annual Report of the work and activities of the Forum, presented by the Chair and the Committee.
  2. Submission and adoption of independently examined accounts for the Forum consisting of a statement of income and expenditure, and a balance sheet for the previous financial year.
  3. Election of the Committee to run the business of the Forum and to make decisions on its behalf between General Meetings.
  4. Appointment of an independent examiner of the accounts, who must not be a member of the Committee.
  5. A review of the rules and policies of the Forum, including the Constitution and the Equal Opportunities Policy
  6. Consideration of any business announced in the AGM agenda.

 7.5 The Committee must organise a Special General Meeting (SGM) of members

within 28 days of a request submitted by 30 full members or at least 33% of the voting membership, whichever is less. The Committee can also call an SGM any time if it so decides, in which case it must give at least 14 days notice via the Forum website and/or other appropriate means.

 7.6 Business at a SGM includes any business announced in the SGM agenda and
any business listed in a request made by members for a meeting.

 7.7 The quorum at General Meetings ( AGMs and SGMs ) is 30 full members or 33% of the
full members, whichever is less.

 7.8 Minutes of General Meetings are kept and approved by the Committee at its
next meeting and agreed by the membership at the next General Meeting. Copies of the draft minutes are made available to members on request. Copies of the approved minutes and agreed minutes are published on the Forum’s website.

 7.9 The Forum organises at least 4 public meetings a year, including General

Meetings. Public meetings which are not general Meetings do not have any formal decision making power but the Committee listens to views expressed at them and

takes them into account when making decisions.

 7.10 Public Meetings take place at a time, venue and date, that is advertised at least 14 days
in advance on the Forum website or by any other appropriate means and are organised to be accessible to people living in the area. The format of public meetings is decided by the Committee.

  1. Rules of Meetings

The following rules apply to all Forum meetings, including public meetings and committee meetings:

 8.1 Chairing – each meeting has a Chair, who is usually the Chair of the Forum or the

Vice-Chair in their absence. The chair of the meeting ensures that the business of the meeting is transacted in an orderly and respectful way.

 8.2 Decision Making — the Forum endeavours to make decisions by consensus, but in

the case of a vote: decisions are made by simple majority of those present and entitled to vote. When the vote is tied, the chair has a second, casting, vote.

 8.3 Speaking – all members, including associate members and junior members, are
entitled to speak at meetings, and at public meetings, all members of the public are entitled to speak. The chair of the Forum has the power to impose time limits on speeches.

8.4 Quora – the number of people who need to be present for decisions to be made to bind the Forum is given elsewhere in this constitution. There is no quorum for public meetings because they are not decision making meetings.

  1. Finance

9.1 All income received by the Forum is used solely to further the Aims and Objectives of the Forum given in the Constitution and for no other purpose.

9.2 The payment of a membership fee can be proposed by the Committee, but the amount can only be decided by a simple majority of votes of the full members present at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) or a Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Forum. A change to the amount of a membership fee can also only be decided by a simple majority of votes of the full members present at an AGM or SGM.

9.3 The Forum has a bank account in its own name. The Treasurer keeps proper account of the finances of the Forum and ensures that all cash transactions (receipts and payments) go through the Forum’s bank account. All payments made by the Forum are made by cheque and all cheques need to be signed by at least two designated members of the Committee. Payments are only made on submission of all relevant invoices and receipts.

9.4 The Forum’s accounts are examined at least once a year by an independent person who is not a member of the Committee.

  1. Data Protection

 10.1 The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held
about them, It provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly. Names and contact details of members will not be passed on to any other organisation or any business.

10.2 The Forum will

  • comply with the law in respect of the data it holds about individuals;
  • have written policies and procedures to ensure all those involved in handling Forum data comply with the law
  • ensure all those involved in handling Forum data have read, understand and accept the Forum’s policies and procedures relating to personal data
  • follow good practice
  • protect its members, volunteers and other individuals
  • protect the organization from the consequences of a breach of its responsibilities.

10.2 The Data Protection Officer is currently the Chair, who has the following responsibilities

  • to brief the management committee on data protection responsibilities
  • to review data protection policies and procedures
  • advise on data protection issues
  • electronic security including the use and issuing of passwords
  • approving data protection-related statements on publicity materials and letters

11. Alterations to the Constitution and Disbanding the Forum

10.1 This Constitution can only be changed at an AGM or SGM of the Forum. Any change to

the Constitution requires a simple majority of votes of full members present.

10.2 The Forum can only be disbanded at a duly-advertised SGM called for the purpose of

deciding whether to disband. A vote to disband the forum requires a simple majority of votes of full members present. If the Forum votes to disband, any assets held in the

name of the Forum, after the payment of all debts and liabilities, will be applied towards charitable purposes for the benefit of the residents in the area.

Date adopted:      25/12/2014

Signed by       Chairman      John Lloyd

                                 Vice Chairman  Barry Lanz

                          Secretary          Saverio Bongo