A parish meeting consists of the local government electors of a parish and the purpose of the meeting is to discuss parish affairs. There is no statutory definition or case law to determine what constitutes a ‘parish affair’. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is of the view that a parish affair could be any local issue, activity, subject matter which specifically affects a particular parish and which a parish meeting may wish to discuss, debate and potentially influence.
Meetings of a Parish Meeting are an effective forum for parish and town councils to engage with the local electorate. Even if the parish or town disagrees with the issues raised, or related arguments, the council members’ attendance and involvement in the parish meeting would demonstrate that the council is prepared to take into account local residents’ views, which they must strongly hold if they have been the conveners of a parish meeting in the first place.
There can be, and often is, confusion between the Annual Parish Meeting and the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council. There must be one parish meeting held each year, between 1st March and the 1st June (inclusive) ie the Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council is a meeting of the Parish Council which must be held in May. Because the 2 meetings are often held during the same month and, even on the same evening, the purpose and running of the 2 different meetings can become blurred.
Other parish meetings may be held during the year should the need arise.
Who can convene a parish meeting?
The Annual Parish Meeting is usually convened by the Chair of the Parish Council but the full list of those empowered to convene a meeting is:
- The Chair of the Parish Meeting, or
- any 2 Parish Councillors, or
- any 6 local government electors of the Parish.
Public notice of a parish meeting.
Public notice of the meeting must be given normally at least 7 clear days beforehand.
The notice must:
- specify the time and place of the intended meeting;
- specify the business to be transacted at the meeting; and
- be signed by the person or persons convening the meeting.
Notice of the meeting is given by
- posting a notice of the meeting in some conspicuous place or places in the parish, and
- in such other manner, if any, as appears to the person or persons convening the meeting to ensure maximum publicity within the parish of the meeting.
Where and when can a parish meeting be held?
A parish meeting can not start earlier than 6pm and can not be held in premises which are used for the supply of alcohol unless no other room is available free or at a reasonable cost.
Who presides a parish meeting?
Normally, the Chair of the Parish Council will chair a parish meeting and if he/she is absent, the Vice Chair. If neither the Chair and the Vice Chair are absent, the parish meeting should appoint a person to take the chair, and that person shall have, for the purpose of that meeting, the powers and authority of the chair.
If the chair of the meeting is the Chair or Vice Chair and they are not a local government elector for parish they shall not be entitled to vote on a question / issue (see below) other than any casting vote required.
Who can attend and can they vote on issues?
By law, a parish meeting must be open to the public and also the press. However, only local government electors for the parish are allowed to vote at a meeting or a parish poll resulting from the meeting. Each elector can give one vote on any question.
Any question/issue will be decided by the majority of those present and eligible to vote at the meeting. The chair of the meeting announces the result of the voting which shall be final unless a poll is demanded. In the case of a ‘tied’ vote, the chair shall have a casting vote.
A parish poll may be requested before the end of a parish meeting on any question arising at the meeting. However, no poll shall be actioned unless either the chair 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.
A parish poll is organised by the local council responsible for elections and they will charge for the poll.
Does a Parish Council have to abide by any agreed decision made at a parish meeting?
Any resolutions made at a parish meeting are not binding on a parish council except in special circumstances. Unless one of the exceptions apply, the resolutions will be persuasive only and a parish council will decide whether it will acknowledge or disregard them.