A parish meeting is a public meeting specifically convened for local government electors of the parish. Whilst people who do not live in the parish may attend they are not entitled to vote. Every parish in England must have a parish meeting in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972, Section 13(1).
A parish meeting can be convened by:
- The chairman of the local council.
- Any two councillors of the local council.
- 6 electors of the parish.
Parish meetings offer local electors the opportunity to discuss parish matters that affect them and which they might potentially influence. They also provide an effective forum where local electors can engage with their local councillors. As local councillors are usually local government electors as well they may also particpate and vote on matters under discussion. A parish meeting convened by a parish or town council must be chaired by the chairman of that council if present, even though they may not be a local government elector and, if the latter, they will not be able to vote. If the chairman or vice chairman of the local council is not present then the meeting must elect a chairman to preside over the meeting.
The law requires there should be at least one parish meeting each year which should take place any time between 1 March and 1 June inclusive. Where there is a parish or town council the parish meeting may be convened by the chairman, or any two councillors, of the parish or town council.
A notice and agenda for parish meetings must specify the time, place and business of the meeting, be signed by those convening the meeting, and posted in a conspicuous place in the parish. The minimum notice required to convene a parish meeting is 7 days. However, if a parish meeting has been convened to either establish or dissolve a parish council then the minimum notice period is 14 days.
Other parish meetings may be held during the year should the need arise.
Parish meetings cannot commence earlier than 6 pm and cannot be held in premises used for the supply of alcohol unless no other room is available free or at a reasonable cost.
A parish poll may be requested at a parish meeting on any question arising during the meeting. However, no poll shall be actioned unless either the chairman agrees to it or is demanded by not less than ten, or one-third of the local government electors present at the meeting, whichever is the fewer. If a parish poll is agreed the chairman must immediately notify the district council who will organise the poll for which there will be a charge.