Bristol Disability Equality Forum Constitution

Bristol Disability Equality Forum Constitution (Rules)

This is the new Constitution following the ballot of members in March 2012.

For the purpose of this Constitution (Rules), the Bristol Disability Equality Forum will be called the Forum.

1.      Aims and objectives

1.1 The charity’s objects (“the objects”) are to relieve the needs of disabled people and their unpaid assistants, for the public benefit, resident in Bristol and the surrounding area, in particular but not exclusively by the promotion of equality, diversity and independence through the provision of services, support, information and training.

2.      Principles

2.1    All activity of the Forum will reflect and be based on a disability equality perspective founded upon the Social Model of Disability.

2.2    It shall be the policy of the Forum to ensure that no Disabled people receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of impairment, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion, nationality or are disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be justifiable.

2.3    The Forum will achieve the aims and objectives stated in clause 1 objectives by any lawful means and including consultation,      representation, campaigning, training and consultancy.

3.      Powers

3.1    The powers of the Forum shall be:

3.1.1 The power to raise funds either through application, fundraising

or income-generation.

3.1.2 The power to undertake joint projects with other organisations      whose policies are consistent with the purposes of the Forum.

3.2    To make any Forum policy decisions, at least 20% of the members of the Forum must be physically present at the meeting.  If 20% are not present the decision shall be made through a postal ballot of members.  Changes to the Forum Constitution can only be made as set out in Section 8.

4.        Membership of the Forum

4.1    Membership of the Forum is open to the following:

(a)    Individual Disabled people who live or work, or are undertaking daytime study of at least 8 timetabled hours a week within the boundaries of the City of Bristol, or who use services or facilities within the city’s boundaries.  A Disabled person is someone who experiences discrimination on the grounds of a physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulty, long term life-limiting illness, or long term emotional or mental distress.  Members are required to learn about, and work to, disability equality and the social model of disability.

(b)           An organisation or group of Disabled people who are based in and/or work within the boundaries of the City of Bristol.  An organisation of Disabled people is an organisation or group supporting disability equality that works on disability issues, whose constitution (rules) requires that the management or executive body is made up of at least 75 % Disabled people who support the social model of disability, and whose voting membership is made up of at least 75 % Disabled people.

(c)    An organisation or group for Disabled people which is based, or works, within the City of Bristol boundaries.  An organisation for Disabled people is an organisation supporting and working for disability equality and whose constitution (rules) allows less than 75% of Disabled people on its management or executive body and/or less than 75% of Disabled people as voting members, or a residential or day care centre run by or on behalf of Bristol City Council, or a voluntary organisation whose services or facilities are primarily attended by Disabled people.

(The constitutions (rules) referred to in points (b) and (c) above must either have been ratified by the Annual General Meeting of the organisation concerned at least six months previously, or be due to be ratified within the next six months.  Where the organisation is a Bristol branch of a national organisation, the written constitution (Rules) used by the Bristol branch must have the above two elements contained within it).

4.2    There is no limit on how many Disabled people each organisation can send to a Forum meeting but only one of those Disabled people can vote on the organisation’s behalf.  The name of this person must be registered in writing or by email with the Forum office at least 24 hours before the meeting is due to start.  It is permissible for an individual member of the Forum who also serves on a management body of an organisation to attend Forum meetings and vote as long as it is clear she/he is acting as an individual.  Organisations will be required to advise the Forum of any changes to their details or status.

4.3    To become members of the Forum, individuals and organisations must register with the Forum office.

People who have not registered with the Forum can attend meetings and speak but not vote.  Expenses will not be paid to such people.  However, new Forum members who register at a Forum meeting may claim expenses and papers in accessible formats will be made available where possible but cannot be guaranteed until the next meeting.

4.4    Non-Disabled people who wish to support the aims and objectives of the Forum may become Associate members.  Associate members have no voting rights but will receive regular newsletters and Annual Reports and may be invited to some Open Forum meetings.

5.      Forum Executive Officers

5.1    The Forum shall have the following Executive Officers:

(a)    Two Co-Chairs, one representing an organisation of Disabled people, the other representing individual Disabled members of the Forum.

(b)    Two Co-Vice Chairs: only Disabled members of the Forum will be eligible for election for these positions.  One of the Co-Vice Chairs will fulfill the role of Secretary when necessary.  The other Co-Vice Chair will also act as Treasurer.

5.2    At least 50% of the Executive Officer positions must be held by women, wherever possible.

5.3    Every Executive Officer must be an existing member of the Forum’s Management Committee.

5.4    The Executive Officers shall be elected at the first Management Committee following the Forum Annual Meeting.  There will be no limit on the number of times someone can be nominated or elected as an Executive Officer.

5.5           The emergency decision-making powers of officers are set out in Section 6.20.

6.      Forum Management Committee

6.1    The Forum shall have a Management Committee.

6.2    All individual or organisational members of the Forum can stand for election as members of the Forum Management Committee unless they are –

(a)    A current elected councillor of Bristol City Council;

(b)    A management committee member of any organisations from whom the Forum receives funding;

(c)    An Individual Advisor for any other of the Bristol City Council Forums;

(d)    Has been a Councillor, or a Management Committee member (or Trustee) of an organisation which has funded the Forum, within the last twelve months immediately before the date of the Forum’s election; or has been selected as a candidate for a Bristol City Council election.  If a Management Committee member is selected as a candidate for a Bristol City Council election during their term of office they shall immediately (the day after selection) stand down until after the election results are known.  If they are successfully elected they shall immediately resign as a Management Committee member.  If they are not successful they may resume their Forum position.

6.3    There will be a maximum of 18 elected places on the Management Committee, and the people who fill those places and serve on the Management Committee shall be known as Advisors.

The maximum number of places on the Management Committee will be allocated as follows:

  1. a)      Eight individual Disabled people as Area Advisors – two from each of four geographical areas to be defined from time to time by the Management Committee;
  2. b)      Four individual Disabled people as general City-wide Advisors i.e. not tied to a geographical area);
  3. c)      Four from organisations of Disabled people;
  4. d)      Two from organisations for Disabled people.

6.4    The term of office for all Management Committee members shall be three years from the date of the announcement of their election with no limit on the number of times they can be re-elected.

6.5           Individual Area Advisors can only be elected by individual members living or working in the area represented.  Otherwise individual members can vote in all categories.

6.5.1 Organisational members can only vote for those Advisor posts representing their type of organisation.

6.5.2 The four general City-wide Advisors can only be elected by individual members.

6.6    The management or executive body of an organisation of or for Disabled people must nominate one representative of that organisation to stand for election, but it is the organisation that is being elected.  The organisation should therefore name a substitute to attend meetings, if their representative cannot attend.  The substitute will be named on the ballot paper.  The representative and the substitute must be a Disabled person.

If the elected representative resigns as a Management Committee member at any time during their period of office the organisation’s substitute will automatically fill that position until the organisation’s period of office ends, and a new substitute may be nominated by the organisation.

6.7    The elections will be conducted through a postal ballot.  If two candidates get the same number of votes, causing a tie, there will be a second ballot to determine who is elected.  If an individual or organisation resigns during the year, the person or organisation with the next highest number of votes within the appropriate electoral category in the election will be asked to replace them until the next AGM, when the relevant members will be given the opportunity to elect a replacement Management Committee member.  Spoilt or incorrectly filled in ballot papers will be considered null and void.  No ballot paper will be considered or counted if it is received later than the published date and time for return.

6.8           If there are insufficient candidates in the relevant category, places can be filled by co-option.  All members or organisations in the relevant category will be contacted and asked if they are willing to be co-opted.  All nominations for co-option will be agreed by a ballot of the Management Committee members at a Management Committee meeting.  Co-optees have speaking rights but cannot vote or represent the Forum unless agreed by the Executive.

6.9    All Management Committee members (including Co-optees) are required to attend training on disability equality issues, including regular refresher sessions.  Such training will be included in the Induction for new Management Committee members within three months following their election at AGM, or as soon as possible thereafter.  If health or compassionate leave reasons prevent a Management Committee member attending disability equality (including social model of disability) training, they must attend the next available relevant training event.

New Management Committee Members cannot represent the Forum until they have attended such training, unless it has been agreed by the Executive Committee.  Wherever possible the Forum will re-run such training for absent Management Committee Members within three months.

6.10    The powers of the Management Committee are as follows:

6.10.1   To carry-out and implement the policies of the Forum.

6.10.2         Determine the policy of the Forum between Forum meetings.

All such decisions must be notified to the Forum where, if appropriate, they will be ratified.

6.10.3    Agree and approve expenditure of the Forum’s budget with all such decisions being reported to the Forum.

6.10.4    To decide all personnel matters directly or by delegation to a Committee or its convenor

6.10.5    Represent and speak on behalf of the Forum.

6.10.6          Remove (after due process according to a policy agreed by the Forum) from the register an organisation, or withdraw membership from an individual or organisational representative on the Forum, whose actions are inconsistent with the aims and objectives of the Forum or whose actions are deemed prejudicial to the interests of the Forum or in breach of the Management Committee’s Code of Conduct.

6.10.7          Withdraw membership (after due process according to a policy agreed by the Forum) from any Management and/or Executive Committee member.

6.10.8          The due process referred to in 6.10.6 and 6.10.7 must include that those subject to removal must be informed, in an appropriate accessible format, of the grounds on which their removal is being proposed, or has been taken.  They must also have a right to make representations (in person or in a format accessible to them) to the Management Committee, with the help of a supporter if required, before a decision to remove them is made or confirmed, after such an appeal.

6.10.9    Co-opt onto the Management Committee any Disabled person they feel is appropriate and would promote the aims of the Forum but such people, as Co-optees will not have a vote, unless agreed by the Executive.

6.10.10    Set up sub-committees to which it can delegate relevant   powers and decision-making provided that any decisions taken by sub-committees are reported to the next appropriate Management Committee.

6.11  The Management Committee shall meet a minimum of once every two months.  Decisions will only be formal if at least one third of the places filled on the Management Committee are present at any meeting, electronically or in person, ten minutes after the scheduled start time of that meeting.

6.12  All members of the Management Committee must complete a Declaration Of Interest form declaring any outside interest that may cause a real or potential conflict with their membership of, or work on behalf of, the Forum Management Committee.  The Declaration of Interest forms will be kept confidentially by the Forum office.

6.13  Any member of the Management Committee or member of the Forum carrying out work on behalf of the Forum may not benefit financially from that work other than to receive an allowance, where one is provided, for Committee attendance eg. Council Scrutiny Commissions.  Any member of the Forum carrying out work on behalf of the Forum must also complete a Declaration of Interest form.

6.14  There shall be one permanent sub-committee, which will be called the Executive Committee.

6.15  Membership of the Executive Committee shall be the four Forum officers plus one ordinary member of the Management Committee.  The Executive Officers and the ordinary member will be elected at the first Management Committee following the Annual General Meeting of the Forum.

6.16  The power of the Executive Committee will be to implement the decisions of the Management Committee and to take any policy decisions that cannot wait until the next scheduled meeting of the Management Committee.  All such decisions must be ratified by the Management Committee at its next meeting.  All meetings of the Executive Committee will be minuted and those minutes made available at the next following meeting of the Management Committee, or as soon thereafter as possible.

6.17  The Executive Committee will meet between Management Committee meetings and at other times when required.  For any decision to be formal at least three members of the Executive must be present, electronically or in person, at the meeting.

6.18  All meetings of the Management Committee and any          sub-committee must be held in an accessible venue and papers will be provided in the accessible format required.

6.19     Forum members may raise issues of concern with Management Committee members, whose duty it will be to consider those issues and bring them to the notice of Officers of the Forum and the Management Committee as a whole.

6.20     At least two Executive Officers in agreement, (1 of which must be a Co-Chair), will have the power to take decisions which cannot wait until the next Executive or Management Committee meeting.  Any decision must be recorded and reported to the following Executive or Management Committee meeting.  The other Co-Chair must be the first Officer contacted by a representative party to that meeting.

7.      Meetings of the Forum

7.1           There will be four Open meetings of the Forum including the AGM.  Notices must go out at least four weeks before the date of the meeting.  The agenda and final papers must go out no later than seven days before the meeting.  All papers and information must be available in the relevant accessible format for all Forum members.  All meetings must take place in an accessible venue and be attended by personal assistants and BSL interpreters, as required.  All reasonable travel expenses will be paid for required travel within the City boundaries.  In exceptional circumstances the Executive are empowered to vary the maximum distance claimable.  Reasonable expenses will be paid to any Forum members who need to provide carers for children or other dependants. These expenses should be agreed before the meeting with the Forum’s senior worker.

7.2    Normally meetings of the Forum will be chaired by one of the Co-Chairs, another Executive Officer or member of the Management Committee.  All Forum meetings must be minuted.  Associate members of the Forum and Officers and members of other organisations may attend, but only at the invitation of the Forum.  Where appropriate, and with the agreement of all elected Forum Officers, a Forum employee e.g. a Forum Development Officer, may facilitate meetings in place of an elected Management Committee member or Executive Officer.

7.3    The meetings of the Forum and the elections of the Management Committee members will be resourced and supported by the Forum.

8.      Changes to the Constitution (Rules)

8.1    To make changes to this Constitution (Rules), notice of the proposed changes must have been circulated in an accessible format to all Forum members as set out below.  To make valid changes to the constitution, a quorum of at least 20% of the Forum members must be present and cast votes (or formally abstain) on the resolution.  To make a change in the constitution at least 80% of the votes cast at the meeting must be in favour of any proposed change.

If less than 20% of the total voting membership are attending such a meeting, all proposals to change the constitution should go to a postal ballot.  Eighty percent (80%) of the votes received by the deadline circulated must be in favour of the change.

The constitution can be changed by any Forum member with voting rights at any Forum meeting that has a quorum as set out above, providing the proposed amendments are made available to all Forum members and the Forum office at least four weeks before the date of the Forum meeting at which the amendments are to be discussed.

8.2    Ratification of any amendments will be deemed to have taken place once the relevant vote has been passed, and the decision has been sent out to all Forum members.

9.      Ending the Forum

9.1    The Forum can only be ended by the passing of a motion at a Forum meeting calling for the Forum to be dissolved.  The motion must be passed by at least 80% of those attending the meeting voting in favour.  Postal votes will be acceptable on such a proposal to dissolve the Forum, but at least 25% of the Forum’s membership must participate in the vote, in person or by postal vote, for the dissolution to be confirmed.

9.2    Following the passing of a motion for dissolution the Management Committee will oversee the dissolution process.  This must include ensuring that all outstanding bills are paid.  Any money that remains after this process must be passed on to a charity or charities with similar objects to the Forum.


Contact Details

If you want this information in any other format or language, please contact us at:

Bristol Disability Equality Forum 94 Grosvenor Road, St Pauls, BS2 8XJ

Tel:    0117 914 0528 (Monday – Thursday) or

Mobile/Text:     07810 506730 (Monday to Thursday)

And please E-mail Laura at the following address :


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