This is an introduction to the role of Town, Parish and Local Council Clerks and meetings of the Council, Committees and Sub Committees.
- Town and parish councils are part of local government
- There appears to be some general misunderstandings as to the position of the town or parish clerk
- Some believe that the clerk is either elected or a honorific voluntary position and that the clerk can engage in the council's debates and vote
About Town, Parish or Local Councils
- Town and Parish Councils are also known as Local Councils.
- They are not voluntary bodies but a tier of Local Government.
- Local Government comprises County, District and Town and Parish Councils. Unitary and Borough Councils are part of the District tier of Government.
- For all intents and purposes Town and Parish Councils are the same and subject to the same laws of the land.
- There is a common misunderstanding that Parish Councils are part of Church Administration.
- They are not, they are the civil administration for a small geographic area.
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- Councils and their committees can only have ordinary and extra ordinary meetings
- Councils do not have AGMs (Annual General Meetings) or EGMs (Extraordinary General Meetings)
- They are part of local government and not private members clubs, charities, limited companies or residents associations
- Confusingly town and parish councils have 2 annual meetings
- The Annual Parish Meeting must not be confused with the Annual Parish Council Meeting
- The Annual Parish Meeting may also be known as the Annual Meeting of the Parish
- An Ordinary Meeting is scheduled by the full council, the clerk summons the elected members and provides details of the business to be transacted
- An Extra Ordinary Meeting is just that it is an extra meeting of the council or committee
- There are some crucial differences from ordinary meetings
- The most important of which is that they may be called by councillors who are unable to have items they wish to be debated by their council on an ordinary meeting agenda
- The clerk is a statutory office holder, may be the proper officer and an employee
- The role is not an elected position but that of an employee
- Town and parish councils are part of local government and their powers and duties are determined by statute
- The law is very clear on who can chair meetings of Town and Parish Councils and the meetings of committees and sub-committees.
- Town and Parish clerks are not elected but employees of the council.
- There is no requirement for the clerk to sign an acceptance of office form.
- There are no legal circumstances where the clerk can chair council meetings unless they are also an elected councillor.
- This situation often arises at the annual meeting of the town or parish council which must be held annually in May.
- An ill trained chairman insists that the clerk to chair the meeting so that they the chairman can vote for themselves.
- This lack of understanding invalidates the meeting.
- It is illegal for anyone other than a councillor to chair council meetings, committee or sub committee meetings.
- Councillors elect a chairman from their own number annually.
- This may also include electing a vice chairman.
- If your parish clerk is chairing parish council meetings the proceedings are void including and decisions and approvals to spend money.
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