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CPALC It's Your Parish or Town Council

Town and Parish councils are the 1st tier of Government, elected by you to represent your community. Councillors are democratically elected and accountable to you. CPALC - supporting all Communities, Parish and Local Councils.

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What's New

The 10 latest public articles and FAQs

All council, committee or sub committee meetings must be properly called with a written legal summons and an agenda with clearly defined topics (the business to be transacted) that the council members will debate and on which they may vote.

Found in: Parish News August 2014
The Communities Secretary published a shortlist of 36 large-scale housing projects in line to receive a share of £850 million of infrastructure funding to get work. The money will go towards the building of road improvement, schools and parks to...

Found in: Parish News August 2014
The need for the accurate recording of apologies and reasons for absence at Town and Parish Council meetings is not an idle bureaucratic whim. Councillors are legally summoned to all Council, committee and sub-committee meetings in writing.

Found in: Parish News August 2014
At the May 2014 meeting of Huttoft Parish Council (Lincolnshire) all but 2 of the parish councillors walked out of the meeting once they realised that it was being recorded. The walkout appears to have been led by a district councillor who was...

Found in: Parish News August 2014
The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 was “made” on the 5th August 2014 and came into effect on the 6th August. A Statutory Instrument is ‘made’ when signed by minister (or person with authority under the Act); in other...

Found in: Parish News August 2014
Town and parish council decisions are not set in stone. Decisions are made on the understanding that there has been full and timely access and disclosure of all material information to councillors.

Found in: Parish News August 2014
A parish council website speaks volumes about a council's attitude to its residents, tax payers and electors. The lack of a website says even more. The web is littered with moribund parish council websites. Some town council websites are not much...

Found in: Key Public Information July 2014
The draft statutory instrument Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 has been approved by Parliament. It is proposed that they will be approved on the 5th August and will become law on the 6th August.

Found in: Parish News July 2014
Payroll, RTI (Real Time Information) and pensions are not for the faint-hearted. The recent changes introduced by HMRC and the approaching changes to pensions have or may leave many councils exposed.

Found in: Parish News July 2014
Separating the role of Responsible Finance Officer (RFO) from that of the Town or Parish Clerk provides extra financial security and extra controls reducing the likelihood of fraud or other problems. CPALC (Communities, Parish and Local Councils)...

Found in: About CPALC - Features and Services July 2014

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About Parish Councils

 An Introduction to town and parish councils

This is a short basic introduction to Town and Parish Councils. There are hundreds of frequently asked questions both in this public area and the members area of the site. The members area contains many more in depth articles and guides about councils.

  • Local councils are democratically elected to represent you
  • Community responsibility - local money with local accountability leading and delivering for you
  • The elected 1st tier of Government working in partnership with community groups
  • Defining and developing projects to benefit your residents and community
  • A Parish of 100 households has exactly same powers as one of 10,000
  • Click here to view your Parish Council's powers...

What is a parish council?

A council is made up of a number of residents who have put themselves forward for election to improve their community and make decisions with the community in which they live or work.

Confusingly all tiers of local government may be referred to as local councils. This includes town and parish councils, unitary authorities, district councils and county councils (principal authorities).

Councils are not charities, residents associations or private members clubs, they are part of local government. Parish councils do not have an all embracing governing document such as a constitution. They are statutory bodies created and governed by acts of Parliament. Legislation defines their powers and duties.

Town and Parish Councils are essentially the same although the title or name is different. The Chairman of a Town Council is the entitled to be called the Town Mayor. The same laws applies to both town and parish councils.

The council has a formal structure based on...

Councillors who are elected to represent their community. In carrying out their duties councillors are expected to be open about interests which may affect their decision making and behave in an ethical way.

The Chairman of the council, who is elected by councillors for a 1 year term of office. They have the responsibility to ensure that the council makes decisions only at council or committee meetings and that what they do does not lead to unlawful decisions being made by council.

The Clerk Legally all councils must have a proper officer who is a statutory office holder. This is usually the clerk who is an officer of the council employed to provide administrative assistance. The role involves protecting the council as a corporate body by providing competent professional advice on making lawful decisions.

All councils must also have a Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) this is also a statutory office. They are responsible for the finances of the council. In most councils this may be the clerk but it is not a legal requirement.

A parish councillor can be the Proper Officer and RFO. If this is the case they cannot be paid as it is illegal to be a councillor and a council employee.

The majority of councils can only afford to employ their clerk on a part time basis and so for clerks seeking to have more working hours in their week the opportunity to work for more than one council gives the possibility of a realistic weekly or monthly wage and allows them to focus on developing their knowledge of council law and procedure.

What is a parish meeting?

A Parish Meeting must not be confused with a meeting of the parish. Parish Meetings have a Chairman, but take their decisions by calling a meeting of all residents in the Parish. Parish Meetings only exists in the smallest of Parishes, with less than 150 electors.

Meetings

Councils decisions may only be made in properly called and constituted meetings of the council, its committees and sub committees. A valid public notice of the meeting and councillor summons is required for ALL council meetings. Councillors MUST receive details of the meeting's business (an agenda).

All meetings of the council, its committees and sub committees are open to the press and public. Since 1972 Councils no longer have closed or confidential meetings. In limited circumstances councils may exclude the press and public.

Money - The Parish Precept

Town and parish councils do not need to trade or raise funds as they have the power to tax their residents. This is known as the parish precept. It is collected as part of a residents council tax bill.

Responsibilities

Councils do not have responsibilities they have have powers and duties. A power is when they may do something. Whereas a duty is that they MUST do something.

Elections

Councillors serve a 4 year term of office. Elections are held every 4 years these are known as ordinary elections. If a person stops being a councillor during their term of office this creates a casual vacancy.

Where there is a casual vacancy a by-election must be called. If there are no candidates willing to stand at a by-election then a council may use its powers of co-option.

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct applies to all councillors whether elected or co-opted. Most residents rights were removed with the 2012 Localism Act. The code of conduct is ineffectual and a post code lottery being a self regulation scheme which principal authorities have no legal powers to enforce.

The code of conduct does not apply to the clerk, officers or employees of the council. They are covered by the anti corruption provisions of the 1972 Local Government Act.

Church and State

A parish council is totally independent and separate from the parochial parish council. A parish council is a secular body which represents the local community and has civil powers and duties. The parochial parish council (PCC) is an ecclesiastical body to do with the governance of the church.

The parochial parish council is responsible for the financial affairs of the church and the care and maintenance of the churchyard, church fabric and its contents. As secular bodies town and parish councils have no powers to contribute to the fabric and maintenance of the Church structure.

Why create a new Parish Council?

Getting elected - The Requirements and Skills needed

 

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Your Rights

CPALC (Communities, Parish and Local Councils) is independent, promoting and providing information about Town and Parish councils, clerks and councillors to all.

It should be remembered that councils need communities but communities do not need councils. Forget this at your peril.

Your Rights as an elector in a parish...

  • To stand for election as a councillor if you meet the legal criteria,
  • To vote and elect town and parish councillors for your parish,
  • To attend all council, committee and sub committee meetings unless a specific legal process is followed to exclude the public and the press,
  • To access and view all council, committee and sub-committee minutes irrespective of whether they are draft or not at any reasonable time,
  • To view and inspect all books of account and accounting records of the council for a specific time period after the publication of the notice of completion of the audit,
  • To view the council's accounts at any reasonable time,
  • To call for an election with other electors where a casual vacancy exists,
  • To call for a meeting of the parish with other electors,
  • To attend and vote at meetings of the parish*,
  • To call for a parish poll, ballot or referendum at a meeting of the parish,
  • To call for the dissolution of a council with other electors,

*Note: A meeting of the parish is not a town or parish council meeting but a meeting of electors within the parish.

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Why Join CPALC?

CPALC is the only independent body which promotes local democracy by aiding and supporting all whether residents, town and parish councillors or parish clerks.

CPALC (Communities, Parish and Local Councils) offers...

  • Open access to all - Residents, Councillors and Clerks - much is free to registered users
  • 24*7 365 days a year availability *
  • Information and support when you need it. A place to shape and share your ideas
  • A community network , all registered users can use our extensive social networking features
  • Free open user  forums for debate, discussion and help

* Terms and Conditions may apply

Original content which is ONLY available here.

  • During 2013 we published...
    • 10 Best Practice Guides,
    • 1 How to Guides,
    • 37 60 Second Guides,
    • 95 Editorials,
    • 66 Members blogs
    • 200+ News items,
    • 375+ Frequently Asked Questions and articles,
    • 25 Newsletters,
    • 3735 Directory Pages,
    • The forum now has 691 subjects and 2,831 messages covering support and debate.
  • Mobile and tablet friendly and ready
  • Free town and parish council  support forum which is available to all
  • Free private forums for residents, councillors and clerks
  • Free editorials, news and members blogs
  • Free social networking
  • Free skills assessments such as "Are you a competent councillor"
  • Detailed Best Practice, 60 Second and How To Guides*
  • PayCheck to see if your town or parish clerk is on the correct grade*
  • Why pay for expensive help  you might not be able to use?

* Requires a small subscription

CPALC (Communities, Parish and Local Councils) advanced content...

  • is written by the in house CPALC team
  • is unique to CPALC, you'll not find it any where else
  • is clear, our Best Practice Guides and How To Guides are written in plain English - no need to be a lawyer to understand them
  • is affordable £30 p.a. (inc VAT) , unlike some organisations where you have to buy each document
  • is included in simple one annual subscription. Giving you access to all our advanced content
  • is electronic, no paper, no delays - available on demand

 Affordable

  • 50p a week ex vat
  • Is "virtual" having no expensive London HQ to maintain or duplication of regional services
  • Has no expensive consultants waiting to visit you
  • Is all electronic - no paperwork, no hassle and no waiting
  • Offers what you need when you need it, Best Practice Guides, detailed articles, FAQ's and How To guides
  • One annual subscription of £30 (VAT included) Click here to find out more...
  • Upgrade your account at any time. Why pay for expensive help and support  you might not use?

What do we do?

  • Promotes information and knowledge about parish councils  to help raise the standards delivered to their communities,
  • Provides a wealth of information, available to residents, community and voluntary groups, parish and town councils, councillors and clerks,
  • Supports a free forum where issues about communities and their democratically elected councils may be debated,
  • Produces best practice guides for community and voluntary groups, parish and town councils,
  • Sifts through and publishes press releases for those items affecting communities and councils,
  • Promotes the development of social networks and communication in communities using its social networking features. These features are designed to promote the sharing of ideas and information between groups of individuals,
  • Openly consults and campaigns for changes to legislation and policies affecting communities and their local councils

CPALC is independent and receives no Government funding or public money from residents council tax or any parish council's precept. It is funded by membership subscriptions and advertising.

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