Yorkshire Party – Constitution

1. Introduction
1.1 The Party shall be called the “Yorkshire Party”, or other names as may be registered with the Electoral Commission.
1.2 The Constitution of the Yorkshire Party sets out how the group will regulate its activities so that its actions and policies reflect the aims of Yorkshire Party and are in accordance with regulatory requirements and general standards of propriety and regularity.
1.3 The members of the Yorkshire Party must approve, by ballot, any amendments to the Constitution. The Steering Group may make interim amendments to the constitution where the Annual Meeting explicitly delegates authority for this; all such amendments must be subsequently approved by the members or lapse.
1.4 Approval of amendments must be by at least a 50.01% of those voting. However, section 2 cannot be changed without agreement of 66% of paid-up members of the Yorkshire Party.

2. Objectives
2.1 The Yorkshire Party’s objectives shall be:
• To build a fairer, stronger, more prosperous Yorkshire in which all who are born herein or choose to live here are proud to call themselves a Yorkshire man orwoman
• To secure a devolved parliament for Yorkshire within the United Kingdom
• To rebalance the economy away from the South East of the UK and build a thriving Yorkshire that works for all our people
• To gain sufficient electoral support to win elections at Council, devolved and Parliamentary level across Yorkshire
• To advocate and deliver the aims and objectives set out in party manifestos and any other policy papers agreed by the Annual Meeting or Steering Group
2.2 All Yorkshire Party candidates endorsed are non­racist and non­discriminatory and have no affiliation with any  group or party that embodies beliefs contradictory to these principles.
2.3 We support the ‘Bell Principles’ regarding the conduct of elected representatives.
2.4 Our candidates will be
• Independent and open minded
• Positive, with a can-­do attitude
• Straightforward and realistic
• Committed to the Bell principles
2.5 We seek to achieve a settled view but personal belief is very important. As such there will be supported  positions on issues only where appropriate.
2.6 All policies shall conform with and give expression to the general principles and objectives of the Yorkshire  Party.
2.7 Policies adopted when a candidate is elected not covered by the party manifesto or other policy positions agreed by either the Annual Meeting or the Steering Group shall be at the candidates’ discretion and conscience.
2.8 The Yorkshire Party will measure elected representatives against the Bell principles, updated from time to time by The Independent Network.

3. Methods
3.1 The Yorkshire Party shall pursue its aim  by means of political activity, democratically organised by members of the Yorkshire Party freely associating together according to the provisions of the constitution.
3.2 We will seek to influence people, all appropriate bodies, organisations and other political parties to support  the principle of devolution for Yorkshire.
3.4 It is not for us to suggest how other parts of the United Kingdom should be organised, but will support  organisations with broadly similar aims that may be established in other parts of the Kingdom.
3.4 We will seek to compete against opponents of the Yorkshire Party by all electoral means.

4. Membership
4.1 The Yorkshire Party shall be made up of fee paying members. Sub categories of membership may be introduced by the Steering Group.
4.2 Any person may apply for membership provided that they:
• Support our objectives
• Are aged 16 years or over
• Agree to abide by the constitution of the Yorkshire Party
• Have paid the annual membership fee in the amount and in the manner determined from time to time by the Steering Group
• Have been accepted by the Steering Group
4.3 Members may:
• Vote on the constitutional and other business of the Yorkshire Party
• Hold elected office in it
• Stand for public elections as a Yorkshire Party candidate
• Only members with a signed letter of authorisation from the Steering Group may contest elections under the Yorkshire Party
4.4 The Yorkshire Party will seek to involve as many supporters as possible in all decision making or policy  development processes subject to agreement of the Steering Group that it is not in breach of the constitution.
4.5 The Steering Group shall have the right to expel from membership any person who no longer complies with membership rules, or whose behaviour is otherwise damaging to the interests of the Yorkshire Party.
4.6 Membership may be refused or revoked if there is material disagreement, evidenced by conduct, with the  fundamental values and objectives of the party or admission or continued membership would be likely to bring  the party into disrepute.

5. The Steering Group
5.1 The Steering Group is the Yorkshire Party’s sovereign body. It is responsible for:
• Endorsing candidates in appropriate elections
• Holding officers and candidates to account
• Determining the Yorkshire Party’s strategies and tactics
• Preparing election manifestos
• Electing from among its members the Deputy Leader, Treasurer, Secretary, Nominating Officer and any other role it sees fit to introduce
• Appointing an acting Leader and/or acting Chair, should those roles become vacant
• Holding the Party Leader and Party Chair to account
• Ensuring that proper arrangements are made for the Annual Meeting
• Ensuring that proper arrangements are made for the election of the Party Leader and Party Chair
• Implementing any decisions which the Annual Meeting has directed to it
• Electing a party President, should it, by way of a unanimous vote, choose to do so. The party President shall serve a one-year term and act as a non-­voting member of the Steering Group

5.2 The Steering Group shall cause to be drawn up and maintained, as and when required, the following sets of Rules:
• Rules for the Steering Group, with a minimum quorum of 4
• Financial rules
• Rules for the selection of approved candidates
5.3 Meetings of the Steering Group shall be conducted at least four times each year, with the intention to be  bi­monthly.
5.4 Membership of the Steering Group (Between 6 & 15 in number) shall be:
• Yorkshire Party Leader
• Yorkshire Party Chair
• Up to nine Steering Group Members, elected at the Annual Meeting
• Up to four additional appointees, determined by the Steering Group
5.5 Members elected to the Steering Group shall serve for a term of two years, with terms commencing in  September.
5. 6 Members of the Steering Group have basic obligations to attend Steering Group meetings, to present a short  update to the Steering Group on their agreed actions  even when not able to attend via communication with the  Chair.
5.7 A member may be removed from the Steering Group in the event of the member missing three consecutive  Steering Group Meetings without adequate explanation and/or failing to undertake agreed actions without acceptable explanation. Removal will be determined by a vote of the Steering Group.
5.8 The Steering Group can co-­opt people on to the Steering Group in the event of vacancies on the Steering Group.
5.9 The Steering Group will be chosen by a ballot of members. The election will be held using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. The Party Chair shall nominate one member of the Steering Group to act as a Returning Officer, who will be responsible for managing  the election process. The Steering Group may choose to reject this nomination by a formal vote of at least 66% of Steering Group members.

6. Executive officers and groups
6.1 The Steering Group may appoint, as it sees fit, such officers or working groups to further the objectives of the Party and this may include:
• Implementing the decisions of the Annual Meeting and the Steering Group
• Organising and directing campaigns
• Managing the organisation and finance of the Yorkshire Party
• Developing policies
• Managing any assets

6.2 The roles of the Officers shall be as follows unless legal requirements, or a decision of the Steering Group, direct(s) otherwise:
• The  Leader shall be the principal spokesperson of the Yorkshire Party. The role is not to lead candidates or councillors in their political views, but to lead the Yorkshire Party to our objectives
• The Treasurer shall manage the Yorkshire Party’s finances and undertake such duties as required by financial regulations and reporting requirements
• A Nominating Officer shall authorise candidates to stand for election
• The Party Chair shall be responsible for chairing all meetings of the Yorkshire Party
• The Secretary: All official communications to and from the Yorkshire Party shall be through the Secretary who will keep copies of all correspondence and make it available to members of the Steering Group

6.3 The positions of Party Leader and Party Chair shall be elected by all paid-up Yorkshire Party members.

6.4 The position of Party Leader shall be elected using the following rules:

● The Party Leader will serve a term of two years. Elections will be held in the September of every second year

● The Steering Group shall be responsible for arranging and managing the election process

● All paid-up Yorkshire Party members who have been members for at least one year and who secure the support of at least five party members shall be eligible to stand as Party Leader

● Should only one candidate be successfully nominated, they will be judged to be elected without the need for a contest

● Should at least two candidates be successfully nominated, a four-week election process will immediately begin

● The Steering Group shall immediately contact all paid-up members to advertise the commencement of the election process

● Through this process the Yorkshire Party will continue to operate as normal, with the Party Leader continuing to act to represent the party, whilst recognising the importance of not using their position to provide undue advantage through the election process

● Every successfully nominated candidate will qualify for two digital communications, to be sent to all members at a time of their choosing

● Successfully nominated candidates shall not be provided with any membership lists or data. This will be retained by the Steering Group, and all communications will be manage by the Steering Group

● Fourteen days after the commencement of the election process, the election itself will begin. This will be held using the Alternative Vote (AV) system should more than two candidates be successfully nominated. Should only two candidates be nominated, the election will be contested using First Past the Post

● Upon the commencement of  election itself, the Steering Group shall contact all members again and provide them with a unique voting code, qualifying them to vote

● Voting shall run for a period of fourteen days

● Voting shall close at 23.59 on the fourteenth day after the Steering Group contacted members to advise them that voting had commenced

● Upon the close of polls, the current Party Leader’s term shall end, with their role temporarily left unfilled, and all power and responsibility assumed by the Party Leader temporarily being returned to the Steering Group

● The Steering Group shall be responsible for counting votes and, without undue delay, reporting the results to the party membership

● The new Party Leader shall formally adopt their role at the next Yorkshire Party Annual Meeting

6.5 The position of Party Chair shall be elected using the same rules outlined in section 6.4

7. Annual Meeting
7.1 The Annual Meeting shall be responsible for:
• Approving the constitution, and any common policy positions
• Approving the Treasurer’s Report
• Confirming the results of the elections for the Party Leader and Party Chair, as outlined in sections 6.4 and 6.5
7.2 Approval of amendments must be by at least a 50.01% of those voting. However, section 2 requires approval by 66% of paid-up members of the Yorkshire Party.
7.3 The Annual Meeting shall consist of members of the party.
7.4 The Annual Meeting shall be convened and conducted annually with no longer than 16 months between them.
7.5 The Annual Meeting can be conducted in any appropriate innovative way that is lawful and does not conflict with the constitution of the Yorkshir  Party.

8. Resolution of Conflicts
8.1 The Steering Group will retain ultimate and complete authority to act to resolve conflicts.
8.2 In exercising this power, the Steering Group will take into account our operating principles as outlined in section 2.

9. Financial rules
9.1 All bank accounts of the Yorkshire Party shall be subject to the authority of the Steering Group and shall only be opened or closed by resolution of the Steering Group. Bank mandates shall be approved at a meeting of the  Steering Group. Authorised signatories on cheques, standing orders, direct debits etc. shall always include the person, normally the Treasurer, denoted at the time by the Steering Group to be responsible for keeping the Party’s accounts.
9.2 The financial year of the Yorkshire Party will be from 1 January to 31 December.
9.3 The Treasurer will prepare financial accounts within 4 months of the end of the financial year and those accounts to be audited and lodged with the Electoral Commission and any other appropriate body as required by  law or regulations.
9.4 The Treasurer is responsible for compliance with all financial regulations and reporting requirements.
9.5 The Party Leader assumes the responsibility upon resignation until a replacement is adopted.