Frequently Asked Questions.

What is a Parish/Town Council?

Who is on the council?

What powers do Parish Councils have?

To whom are they accountable?

Can I attend meetings of the council?

Can I speak at the meeting?

Can I see the minutes of council meetings and other papers?

How do I find out who the councillors are?

How do people get elected to the council?

What powers do Parish Councils have with respect to planning applications?

Are councillors required to declare any financial or other personal interests?

Can I record a meeting in part or full?

Can I Consume Food and Drink during a meeting?

Can I Use an Electronic Cigarette during a meeting?

Can I leave a meeting at any point?

Do I have to turn my mobile phone off during a meeting?

Can I bring children to a meeting?

 

What is a Parish/Town Council?

A Parish Council is a statutory local authority established under the Local Government Act 1972. It operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes. A Town Council is a Parish Council which has resolved to call itself a Town Council.

Who is on the council?

The council is made up of councillors elected by the electors of the parish. Every year the council elects one councillor to be the Chairman of the council (The Mayor if a Town Council). The council has a paid officer who organises meetings and helps to carry out the council’s decisions – this officer is known as the Clerk.

What powers do Parish Councils have?

Parish Councils have a wide range of powers such as looking after community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas, some street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and much more. They also have the power to raise money through the council tax.

To whom are they accountable?

The council is accountable to the electors of the parish. Elections to parish councils are held every four years. The council’s accounts are subject to scrutiny by the external auditor, but since the Standards Board for England was abolished, any alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by individual councillors can be discussed initially with the Chairman of the Council to see if a resolution can be found, if not then the District or Borough Monitoring officers can be consulted.

Can I attend meetings of the council?

Yes, all meetings of the council and its committees must be open to the general public and the press, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings must be advertised beforehand – usually on the parish notice board and website. The notice must be posted at least three days before the meeting.

Can I speak at the meeting?

You cannot speak whilst normal business (standing orders) is being conducted. However, nearly all councils allow some time at the meeting when standing orders are suspended, at which point the public are invited to address the council on an issue that concerns them.

Can I see the minutes of council meetings and other papers?

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2010 you may see and have a copy of the ‘recorded’ information held by the council (unless it is classed as exempt information in the Act). This includes reports, minutes, correspondence and emails. The information has to be provided within 20 working days. There may be a photocopying charge.

How do I find out who the councillors are?

A list of Councillors can be found on our home page.

How do people get elected to the council?

Elections are held every four years and will usually coincide with a District Council election. A Public Notice of a forthcoming election will be placed on notice boards and website.

There are occasions when the number of people who put their names forward for election is less than the required number of seats on the council. In these circumstances an election is not required and those who stood for election are deemed elected. In order to fill the vacancies, the council is required to co-opt other residents.

If a seat on the council becomes vacant between normal elections then a special procedure has to be followed which can lead to an election or, more usually, the co-option of a new councillor. It is good practice for a council to advertise widely in the parish if it is seeking to make a co-option.

What powers do Parish Councils have with respect to planning applications?

Parish Councils are consulted by the relevant Planning Authority on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application. However, the final decision is made by the Planning Authority, not the Parish Council.

Are councillors required to declare any financial or other personal interests?

Yes, all councillors have to abide by a Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct sets out which interests have to be declared. They also have to enter relevant financial and other interests in a special Register that is open to inspection by the public.

Can I record a meeting in part or full?

Recordings can be made during a meeting, however, any intended recording in part or full must be announced at the start of the meeting. Consideration must be taking into account for other people that may be affected during recording.

Can I Consume Food and Drink during a meeting?

Food and Drink cannot be consumed during a meeting.

Can I Use an Electronic Cigarette during a meeting?

The use of any Electronic Cigarette is prohibited within the Parish Office.

Can I leave a meeting at any point?

Yes you can leave at any point during a meeting. Consideration for those around you should be given.

Do I have to turn my mobile phone off during a meeting?

It is advised that all mobile phones are switched to ‘silent mode’ during a meeting.

Can I bring children to a meeting?

Yes, children may attend a meeting. Consideration for others should be given.

 

 

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