5.3.3 Confidential information at meetings


  1. Meetings may exclude the public if confidential information would likely be disclosed from discussing a matter of business in public, and there is a good reason for keeping the information confidential.

  2. It is not enough that the information is seen to be “confidential” – instead, the Governing Body must rely on one of the set grounds in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. The Governing Body must weigh up whether the reason for keeping it confidential is outweighed by other considerations that make it desirable, in the public interest, to make the information available). See Section 12: Official Information. To exclude the public, the meeting must pass a resolution to exclude the public, giving reasons for the exclusion, while the public is still there. When it is time to discuss the item, members of the public will then leave. Governing body members will remain, together with any staff needed for the item, and any person with knowledge that is required to assist the governing body with that item. The resolution to exclude the public will specify the person, and describe generally the knowledge that the person has, and how it is relevant to the item [1].

  3. The Governing Body is committed to ensuring as much information is made public as possible and, in some cases, a report may be split into two so that non-confidential elements are on the public part of the agenda.

  4. Staff will advise members when information is confidential. Governing Body reports will be marked as confidential and the public excluded when the chief executive (or delegate) reasonably expects confidential information to be discussed. While the information is treated as confidential for the purposes of the meeting, it is important councillors understand whether or not the information remains confidential after the meeting. To assist, the Governing Body has a process of using restatements, i.e. where the Governing Body meeting makes a resolution noting if the information is to be restated in the public minutes.

  5. Even if the Governing Body meeting has not made a restatement, the information may still be released if there is a LGOIMA request or the reason for confidentiality no longer applies. There is no legal requirement to advise councillors when information is no longer confidential but it can be useful to make sure there are no surprises, and that elected members know when they can discuss a matter publicly.

  6. In addition, elected members can, like any other member of the public, make a LGOIMA request for information – and these requests are subject to the same statutory constraints as for anyone else. Information that is provided to an elected member under a LGOIMA request is public information.



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