The law is the same for all town and parish councils.

  • Town and parish councils are a tier of government whose role, powers and duties are defined in law.
  • Town councils may have a mayor whilst parish councils have a chairman.
  • Neither can have an elected “leader”.
  • Town and Parish councils are not...
    • clubs,
    • residents associations,
    • charities or
    • allotment societies.

 

The term meetings is however rather confused in the law

  • There is a type of council called a parish meeting.
  • Parish Meetings have a Chairman but no councillors
  • They make all their decisions by calling a meeting of all residents in the Parish.
  • Parish Meetings only exist in the smallest of Parishes, with less than 150 electors

 

Councils may also have meetings of committees and sub committees.

  • Committees and members of them are created by a majority vote at a full council meeting.
  • Sub committees are created by a committee from the committees members.

 

Article Contents - Click on a link below

Types of council meetings

Cancellation of Council, Committee and Sub Committee meetings

Informal Council meetings

My Local Council has a 2 member panel which meets in private

Does a Parish Council have an AGM

When and where can a Town or Parish Council meet

Can a Council meet outside the parish

Can a Council meet at the Chairman's, a private house or public house

Can a parish council have a confidential meeting

Do I have the right to speak at a council meeting

When is my Parish Council meeting and what it is going to discuss?

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Can a District Councillor sit with the Councillors at Parish Council Meetings?

The rights of the press and public to attend

Deciding meeting dates

Notice of Meetings

Do Parish Councils have to advertise committee meetings?

The Meeting Agenda

The legal summons

Council Decision making

Who makes Parish or Local Council decisions?

Can decisions be made other than in parish council meetings?

Can a Parish Council make decisions by email?

 

Types of council meetings

  • 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) as 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.

 

Cancellation of Council, Committee and Sub Committee meetings

  • All council meetings may be cancelled.
  • No notice is required or specified in the legislation.

 

Informal Council meetings

  • By definition there is no such thing as councillors have not been legally summoned to the meeting.
  • There is no business to be transacted (agenda) no minutes etc.
  • These should be avoided at all costs as residents may well believe that decisions are being made behind closed doors to spend taxpayers money.
  • Such actions can only bring the council into disrepute.

 

My Local Council has a 2 member panel which meets in private

  • Town and Parish Councils who do this are breaking the law in a number of areas.
  • Council decisions can only be made during properly called meetings.
  • Decision making cannot be delegated except in certain minor circumstances.
  • The press and public cannot normally be excluded unless a specific legal process is followed.

 

Does a Parish Council have an AGM

  • Town and Parish councils do not have AGM's (Annual General Meetings) as they are not clubs, associations or companies. 
  • Rather confusingly the law defines 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.

 

When and where can a Town or Parish Council meet

  • A Town, Parish or Local council can meet on any day of the week including Sunday.
  • If they do meet at the weekend they should ensure that the correct amount of notice is given for the meeting.

 

Can a Council meet outside the parish

  • There is no legal requirement for parish council meetings to be held within the boundaries of the parish.

 

Can a Council meet at the Chairman's,  a private house or public house

  • The 1972 Local Government Act specifically forbids parish councils from meeting in private homes including that of the Chairman or Clerk.
  • Parish councils have the power to provide a community meeting places.
  • This is specifically covered in the Local Government Act 1972.
  • Councils may after reasonable notice meet in a local authority or grant maintained school free of charge.
  • Where a school room is used any incidental costs such as light, heat, caretakers costs etc. must be recompensed.
  • Some parish councils are trying to avoid the filming and recording of meetings by holding council meetings in private houses.
  • This they think gets around the problem as it is a private place.
  • Council meetings are public meetings.
  • The press and public can only be excluded in exceptional circumstances after a specific legal process has been followed. 
  • Councils cannot meet in any premises which supply alcohol unless no other room or venue is available free or at reasonable cost.

 

Can a parish council have a confidential meeting

  • There is no such type of meeting, Town and Parish councils have ordinary and extra-ordinary meetings which includes meetings of committees and sub committees.

 

Do I have the right to speak at a council meeting

  • Legally you do not have the right to speak during the formal parish council meeting, this is reserved for elected members of the parish council.
  • Should you have problems speaking at a parish council meeting you should request a copy of the council's standing orders.
  • Most councils have adopted standard standing orders which allow you to speak at some point.
  • A competent Chairman will explain the process before the meeting.

 

When is my Parish Council meeting and what it is going to discuss?

  • Contact details of the Clerk to the Parish Council and Parish Councillors should be available on your local notice board, in your local newsletter and on the Parish Council’s website – if it has one.
  • Contact any one of these individuals particularly the Clerk who is responsible for administering meetings and the physical production of the agenda.
  • Sometimes the calendar of meetings for the year is published.
  • At least 3 clear days before each meeting of the Council or a Committee a notice of meeting must be posted on the notice board giving the date, place and time.
  • It is best practice for the agenda to be posted alongside but, if not, ask the Clerk for a copy or visit the website.
  • Copies of the agenda and draft minutes of the previous meeting should be available for the public at each meeting.
  • Dedicated Parish Council websites are the modern way for residents to access information on Council activities including minutes and agendas.

 

Can a District Councillor sit with the Councillors at Parish Council Meetings?

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