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HEF Terms of Reference

1. Aims & Objectives

1.1 The Hertfordshire Environmental Forum (HEF) has been established to:

  1. provide an opportunity for organisations with an interest in the sustainable development of Hertfordshire to come together to address the protection and improvement of the local environment and contribute to the resolution of global problems.
  2. work in partnership to provide a framework to initiate and advance environmental programmes across the communities of Hertfordshire and in particular promote and monitor the sustainability process in Hertfordshire.
  3. stimulate awareness on environmental issues both locally and nationally to achieve greater involvement, promote activity and encourage sustainability at all levels.

2. Membership

2.1 Membership shall be open to the twelve authorities that formed HEF, who shall be known as the Founder Members [1] , and, at the discretion of the Joint Steering Group, other organisations with an interest in the HEF Aims & Objectives.

2.2 There shall be two classes of Membership:

  1. Members, who will pay annual subscription rates as agreed at each yearís AGM and will have voting rights; and
  2. Associate Members who will not be required to pay the annual subscription rate and will not have voting rights.

2.3 Applications from organisations wishing to join HEF as Members or Associate Members shall be made in writing to the Secretary, who shall report the application to the HEF Joint Steering Group. A majority of Members, including at least 50% of Founder Members, must be in favour of the application for it to be agreed. Members may caste their vote in writing if they are unable to attend the relevant Joint Steering Group meeting.

2.4 Each Member organisation shall be entitled to nominate three representatives to attend HEF Joint Steering Group meetings. One of those representatives shall be identified as the voting representative for the Member organisation.

2.5 Herts Association of District Councils (HALC) shall be entitled to nominate three elected members to attend HEF Joint Steering group meetings, one of which will be identified as the voting representative, subject to Hertfordshire County Councilís subscription including an amount for HALCís subscription.

2.6 Each Associate Member organisation shall be invited to nominate one representative. Associate Member organisations will not have voting rights. Associate Member organisations may be invited to nominate more than one representative at the discretion of the Joint Steering Group.

3.Terms of Reference

3.1 The business of HEF will be conducted in accordance with these Terms of Reference.

3.2 Amendments to the HEF Terms of Reference will require the approval of a majority of Members, to include at least 50% of Founder Members, either voting in person or by casting their vote in writing if they are unable to attend the relevant Joint Steering Group meeting.

4. Administrative Procedures

4.1 The activities undertaken by HEF will be hosted by a Founder Member for a period of 12 months on a revolving calendar basis. This Host Member shall provide leadership for all HEF matters during their period of office and shall nominate a representative to act as Chair of HEF for the year of office. The Host Member organisation for the following year will be agrees at the AGM.

4.2 All the activities pursued through the Forum shall be guided and prioritised by a strategic HEF Joint Steering Group comprising representatives of Member and Associate Member organisations. The Host Member shall be notified of the names of the representatives and any substitutes at the commencement of their period of office and whenever these are changed during the course of the year. The Secretary of HEF must be notified of any substitutes for the representatives or changes to the nominated voting representative by the start of the Joint Steering Group Meeting.

4.3 The HEF Joint Steering Group shall be required to meet on at least four occasions during each calendar year.

4.4 Each Joint Steering Group agenda shall include:

  1. Details of any changes in membership of HEF and any applications for membership.
  2. A Financial Report from the HEF Secretary.
  3. Reports from each Work Group, including current work programmes.
  4. Meetings and Events Calendar.

4.5 The agenda of the HEF Joint Steering Group meeting shall be publicised on the web site two weeks prior to the meeting to promote to the public including the press. [NB the agenda published on the web will not necessarily include the detailed reports to be presented to the meeting.]

4.6 The Host Member shall convene an Annual General meeting (AGM) at the third meeting of the year of the Joint Steering Group to:

  1. determine the Host Member and the main theme to be adopted for the year ahead.
  2. receive nominations and agree the Member organisation which will host the next HEF Annual Conference and agree the theme or topic to be adopted for that conference.
  3. approve the annual work programmes for all Work Groups and the Executive Group.
  4. consider future funding needs and determine future priorities for the year ahead.
  5. agree the Member subscription rate for the following year.

4.7 Proposals for increasing the subscription rate shall be considered at the Joint Steering Group meeting prior to the AGM to enable consultation with Member organisations prior to the AGM. The end-of-year financial account should be received in the first meeting of the New Year.

4.8 The Joint Steering Group will appoint Work Groups comprising appropriate officer and employee representatives to undertake specific work programmes on behalf of HEF. Work Groups shall be free to make what arrangements for meetings they feel is appropriate and will be authorised to encourage full participation from Members and Associate Members, and other organisations, business and the voluntary sector when appropriate. Members of Work Groups may not necessarily be representatives of HEF Member or Associate Member organisations. Representatives of Member and Associate Member organisations shall be entitled to attend Work Group meetings.

4.9 The Joint Steering Group will appoint an Executive Group to monitor, co-ordinate and manage the activities of the Work Groups and provide professional advice and recommendations for consideration by the Joint Steering Group. The Executive Group shall comprise the Chair of each Work Group, and an officer representing the Host Member who shall act as Secretary to HEF and chair the Executive Group. The Executive Group shall be free to make arrangements for meetings as are appropriate and the Chair of HEF shall be entitled to attend the Executive Group meetings.

4.10 An invitation shall be extended to the next Host Member officer representative to attend the final Executive Group meeting of the year and the retiring Secretary shall be invited to the first meeting of the Executive Group of the following year to ensure a smooth handover.

4.11 A HEF Annual Conference based on a sustainability theme or topic relevant to the activities of HEF shall be hosted each year by one of the participating Members. The conference to be organised in conjunction with the Education and Promotions Work Group, utilising support from other work groups and representatives as appropriate. The HEF Joint Steering Group shall approve the theme of the conference.

5.0 Professional and Officer Support

5.1 Each Member and Associate Member organisation will be requested to provide appropriate professional support to HEF and may be represented on each of the Work Groups.

5.2 The Host Member will be required to provide full secretarial and administrative support to HEF throughout their period of office.

6.0 Participation by Other Organisations, Public, Press etc

6.1 HEF may request other organisations, agencies and environmental groups to participate in any HEF activity.

6.2 Members of the public shall be permitted to attend any meeting of HEF Joint Member Steering Group unless a majority of Members at the Joint Steering Group meeting request that representatives of non-voting organisations and/or the press and public should be excluded for a confidential item.

7.0 Conduct of HEF Steering Group Meetings

7.1 Each Member organisation shall be entitled to one voting representative at Joint Steering Group meetings. Hertfordshire County Council makes a contribution on behalf of Hertfordshire Association of Local Councils, which entitles HALC to a vote at the Joint Steering Group meetings. The Secretary shall be advised of the name of the representative authorised to vote on behalf of each Member organisation at the start of each meeting.

7.2 Non-voting representatives of Member organisations and representatives of Associate Member organisations, including officer and employee representatives, shall be entitled to attend HEF Joint Steering Group meetings and take part in debates, but they will not be entitled to vote.

7.3 Members of other organisations shall be entitled to attend HEF Joint Steering Group meetings and take part in debates subject to the discretion of the Chair but they will not be entitled to vote.

7.4 All attendees at HEF Joint Steering Group meetings shall sign the attendance register and indicate their status.

7.5 Each Joint Steering Group meeting shall be chaired by a nominated representative of the Host Member organisation, which will normally be the person nominated as the Chair of HEF. The Chair of the Joint Steering Group meeting will hold the casting vote should the vote be tied. The Chair shall control the conduct of the meeting and the ruling of the Chair on any point of order shall be final.

7.6 The quorum for the Joint Steering Group shall be equivalent to one third of the number of the Member organisations participating in HEF at the time of the meeting.

7.7 The order of business shall be as indicated on the Agenda or otherwise, as the Chair shall prescribe.

8.0 Legal Status

8.1 HEF does not constitute a formal decision making body except for matters in pursuance of the Aims & Objectives set out in these Terms of Reference and for matters that relate to the day to day working of HEF. All activities, administrative procedures and financial affairs of HEF are governed by common law. HEF is not empowered to enter into contractual commitments that will be formally binding on any or all of the membership organisations.

9.0 Funding and Financial Procedures

9.1 Each Member organisation will be requested to make a financial contribution towards HEF as approved at the AGM.

9.2 During itís year of office the Host Member will be responsible for holding HEFís funds and processing all transactions relating to them, provided that the HEF Joint Steering Group has formally authorised such expenditure.

9.3 The Host Member will be required to prepare and present a statement of accounts and financial report to each meeting of the Joint Steering Group.

9.4 All requests to fund work activities must be made to the Joint Steering Group in the form of a written report. In exceptional circumstances the Chair of HEF can approve funding, up to a maximum of £5,000, which would then be ratified by the Joint Steering Group at its next meeting.

9.5 Where the Joint Steering Group have authorised expenditure the approved value shall not be exceeded by more than 10% without reference back to the Joint Steering Group or in cases of urgency by the Chair of HEF.

9.6 The Host Member shall be entitled to recover reasonable costs incurred in administering and servicing HEF during their year of office upon submission of a detailed account to a Joint Steering Group meeting in the year following the year of office. The maximum level of reimbursement shall be of 50% of the individual Memberís contribution to HEF. For the application of costs to be approved the accounts must be approved by a majority of Members present at the Joint Steering Group. Costs can be recovered provided that the authority has hosted HEF at least once.

The following shall be regarded as eligible costs:

  • printing and mailing costs of HEF agenda papers
  • printing of HEF headed paper
  • committee clerk support for HEF Joint Steering Group meetings
  • hospitality for HEF Joint Steering Group meetings

10.0 Disclosure

10.1 A Member shall not disclose to any person except another Member of the Forum any papers, reports or documents indicated to be confidential unless:

  1. The Steering Group expressly consents or has taken steps to make that business public; or
  2. The law requires.

Drafted by Rosemary Harris July 02
Accepted by HEF Joint Steering group 18 Sept 2002


[1] The Founder Members are: Dacorum Borough Council, East Herts District Council, Hertfordshire Association of Local Councils, Hertfordshire County Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council, St Albans City & District Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council, Watford Council, Welwyn Hatfield Council, Broxbourne Borough Council.