Secretarial Policy Statement
- The Secretarial Group aims to inform the membership of meetings and decisions of the Co-op, ensure that agendas and minutes are available and easy to understand, provide administrative support to the other Working Groups, and keep track of certain data concerning meetings, decisions, and tenants.
- In line with the second Co-op principle of democratic member control, the Secretarial Group works to ensure that all members feel welcome and able to participate in meetings, and that the Co-op’s democratic processes are accessible, clear and accountable.
Role of the Secretary and Secretarial Group
The Secretarial Group is responsible for:
- Calling, preparing and recording meetings of the Co-operative
- Ensuring that Working Groups are regularly reporting to meetings of the Co-operative
- Ensuring that adequate records are kept of members of the Co-operative and of any elected roles held by those members
- Checking that Co-op policies are regularly looked at, reviewed and updated
- Encouraging the creation of a Co-op magazine on a semi-regular basis
- Liaising with any groups the Co-op affiliates with and with the Co-op's solicitors
- Acting as a point of correspondence with outside organisations wishing to engage with the Co-op
- Authorising use of the Co-op seal, and acting as a primary signatory for the annual return and for any shares issued by the Co-op
- The Vice-Secretary/ies, any members of the Secretarial Group, and/or staff may assist the Secretary in carrying out any of the tasks listed above.
Correspondence and Liaison
- In general, the Secretary and/or Secretarial Group are a primary contact to and from the Co-op with any organisation the Co-op is affiliated to.
- The Secretarial Group will also manage any affiliations the Co-op has agreed to make, ensure that they are maintained, and ensure that any important information from affiliates is distributed to the membership.
- The Secretarial Group will also act as a primary conduit for communicating with the Co-op's solicitors. They should always be consulted in engaging the solicitor in any paid work, as even a small amount of consultation on legal matters can cost a lot of money.
- The Co-op magazine is a useful way to both inform and engage the membership, and to let the wider community know that we are here and play a part in the community. In the past the magazine has been produced anywhere from annually to quarterly, and by a variety of members and/or staff.
- The Co-op has agreed that any magazine produced should be appropriate for distribution to the wider community, instead of as a purely internal magazine.
- The Secretarial Group will establish a clear system of filing so that the register of members, records of meetings, tenant records, and any other information about the Co-op is accessible and organised.
In particular, the Co-op will retain the following in Tenant files:
- Application Forms
- Tenancy Agreement
- HB Correspondence
- NTQ’s and Court correspondence
- General Correspondence
- Record of Welfare files held (files kept separately;
- reference or case numbers should be placed in Tenant
- files for easy referral)
- The Co-op operates on a slightly adjusted system based on guidance on data retention from the National Housing Federation, which dictates how long it retains records on file. There is a detailed list in the Office of what we hold and for how long.
- The Secretary will be responsible for ensuring that the Co-op issues privacy notices to all members, applicants and members of staff outlining what personal data the co-op may hold on them, for how long, and why.
- The Secretary will respond to all reasonable data requests within an appropriate timescale, guided by legislation. Any request that seems unreasonable can be passed on to a GM for consideration.
- The Secretary will ensure that the information contained within the privacy notice is accurate, clear and complies with GDPR legislation.
- The Secretary will ensure that systems in place to protect, secure and prevent unnecessary retention of data are functioning well and that the members and staff administering them understand why they exist.
- The Office computers and photocopier are available for Co-op business uses to members and staff.
- The photocopier may be used for personal printing/copying for a small fee.
- The Secretarial Group will work with staff to ensure that the photocopier is kept stocked with ink and paper and the Office is supplied with adequate stationery.
- The Office is primarily a space for the day-to-day business of running the Co-op, and this activity takes priority over any other at all times.
- Within reason and where it doesn’t impede the running of the Co-op, members may use the Office for their own business or personal activity.
Policy, Community Agreements and Policy Review
- The Secretarial Group takes a supervisory role on policy and policy review. The group is in no way expected to do the majority of the work with policy, but should be consulted and should keep an eye on any policies that have not been looked at for long periods of time.
- When policies are reviewed and/or updated in General Meeting, it should be the responsibility of the secretarial group to amend the relevant documents as a matter of urgent point of action or within one week of ratification. This is to ensure that our written policies remain consistent with our practices. The date of the GM in which the review was heard should be included as part of the amendment.
- Procedure for updating policies
- Either directly, or coordinating with a member of the Tech group if required, the secretarial group should ensure that the relevant policy web-page is accordingly amended.
- The documents should use html markup that is consistent with other documents on the site
- The office staff should be notified when this has been done so they can update the Policies folder with a pdf print from the webpage.
The Secretarial Group takes a supervisory role over Working Group reporting, and will establish an annual framework for reporting that results in each Working Group reporting quarterly to the General Meeting.
Quarterly reports, in the general case, summarise the last quarter's activity, the forthcoming activity of the group, and any changes needed in levels of volunteering or group co-ordination.
Seal and Shares
- The secretary shall oversee the proper use of the Co-op seal.
- The Secretary shall act as primary signatory for the issuing of shares of the Co-operative.
- Notice for submission of agenda items for any General Meeting shall be given two weeks before the meeting date.
- Any members wishing to submit agenda items shall submit them to the Secretarial Group no later than seven days before the meeting date.
- Priority for agenda items shall be given to Working Groups, agreed actions, or reports from previous General Meetings, and any urgent matters. Any other matters will be considered if time allows, and moved on to the next General Meeting agenda if necessary.
- Items for agendas should consider costs, volunteer and/or worker time needed, as well as any changes needed to policy or procedure in putting the proposal into practice.
- Members are expected to approach a meeting as both members and tenants, considering their interest as tenants of the Co-operative, and deliberating together as members and as the decision-making body of the community.
- Members should behave with respect to all participants in a meeting; anyone acting in a way that frustrates the meeting or doesn’t respect the others present may be asked to leave the meeting by the facilitator.
- Members are expected to self-monitor their contribution to meetings. In the interest of hearing as many voices as possible, members are encouraged to pay attention to how long and how frequently they are speaking at meetings.
- Members are expected to co-operate with the facilitator in keeping to the speaking order, and should not speak out of turn or interrupt other members. If members persist in speaking out of turn or dominating the space, they may be asked to leave the meeting by the facilitator.
- In general, all discussions at meetings are conducted through a facilitator/s.
- The facilitator will guide the meeting through the agenda, but may deviate from it if necessary. If a member has a factual response to a query raised, they may, with the consent of the facilitator, skip to the front of the speaking order in order to clarify and move the discussion forward.
- The facilitator may use or request other forms of discussion, indications from the meeting as to current feeling on a topic, go-rounds for all members to contribute, etc., in order to ensure appropriate deliberation of the items presented on the agenda.
- The meeting shall consider all items of business within the time agreed for the meeting. Each item shall be considered only if the person or group submitting the item is present to introduce it, or has nominated someone to present it on their behalf. If nobody is able to introduce the item, the meeting may decide whether to consider the item at their discretion.
- Any proposal brought to a meeting which doesn't appear on the agenda shall only be considered if a majority vote of the meeting deems it to be urgent.
- All Co-op meetings should last no longer than two hours. If the time limit is reached, the meeting may take a majority vote to extend by up to one hour, or adjourn the meeting to an agreed-upon time to conclude any outstanding items or proposals.
- Upon a proposal being proposed and seconded, the facilitator will invite the meeting to raise and address any outstanding concerns with the proposal, before proceeding to a vote on the matter.
- Proposals may be amended from the wording on the meeting’s agenda. Any proposal voted upon must be clearly read out in its original or amended form before a vote is taken on the matter.
- After a proposal is passed, the meeting will nominate a member, members or Working Group to ensuring that the decision is acted upon. The next meeting will check that decisions made are being carried out.
- Minutes of meetings shall be recorded and sent to the membership no later than seven days after a meeting.
- Each General Meeting will consider all minutes received by the membership since the last GM and take a vote on approving them, along with any amendments agreed upon.
- Minutes are taken to provide a record of decisions taken, members taking on responsibility for any actions or work resulting from these decisions, and a summary of any discussions and/or questions asked and answered during the meeting.
- In the general case, minutes are not recorded as a verbatim account of the meeting.