• Town and parish councils have the power to tax their communities
  • It is important that their decision making process is open to public scrutiny.
  • Town and parish councils are governed by law.
  • As a tier of local government they must follow the law.
  • They are not charities, residents associations or private members clubs.

 

Article Contents - Click on a link below

Must parish councillors attend council meetings?

Do parish councillors have to declare interests at each meeting?

Can the chairman of a parish council invite members of the public?

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Can decision making be delegated to a single parish councillor?

Can a district councillor vote at parish council meetings?

Can a councillor vote by proxy at a parish council meeting?

 

Must parish councillors attend council meetings?

  • Town and parish councillors have few legal obligations.
  • Some object to being summoned to council , committee and sub committee meetings feeling that being asked or invited to attend.
  • This is wholly wrong as town and parish councils are not private members clubs, charities or residents associations.
  • Councils that invite councillors to attend either have a clerk or proper officer who is not qualified to act in that capacity or have completely failed to understand the legal requirements relating to town and parish councils.
  • Council decisions may only be made at properly constituted meetings of the council.
  • Decision making cannot be delegated to individual councillors.
  • Councillors who fail to attend council meetings are depriving electors of representation.
  • Town and parish councillors are legally summoned to attend council and committee meetings. They are NOT invited to attend.
  • A councillor has a statutory duty to attend council and committee meetings.
  • In certain circumstances a parish councillor can be disqualified as a councillor for failing to attend council meetings.

 

Do parish councillors have to declare interests at each meeting?

  • Electors and residents now face a post code lottery as different forms and interpretations of enforcing the code of conduct will be implemented from county to county.
  • Each town or parish council is free to decide whether to write its own code of conduct or adopt that of its principal authority.
  • The previous code of conduct which covered Town and Parish councillors was repealed and replaced with a system of what is effectively self regulation under the Localism Act 2012.
  • The previous code of conduct had “teeth” and was administered by the principal authority's (A Unitary, District or County Council) monitoring officer.
  • Consequently the obligations on town and parish councillors and the powers of principal authorities have been significantly restricted.
  • Councillors must on accepting office declare their interests.
  • These interests must legally be available on the councils own website and that of the principal authority. It must be noted that this legal requirement is widely ignored.
  • It is still best practice that there should be an agenda item in-order that councillors can declare their interests on subsequent agenda items.
  • This should be done at every parish council meeting and committee meeting.

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (08) to the Parish Council Code of Conduct

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (11) To The Nolan Principles

 

Can the chairman of a parish council invite members of the public?

  • The town mayor or parish council chairman is just another elected councillor with no special powers.
  • Access and attendance to meetings of the council, its committees and sub committees is guaranteed by law.
  • The press and public can only be excluded after a specific process has been followed.
  • By law the press and public can attend town and parish council meetings and committee meetings.
  • No special invite by the chairman or a councillor is required nor is consultation with fellow councillors or the clerk.

BPG 09 A CPALC Best Practice Guide to excluding the press and public

 

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