A guide to Parish Council meetings

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE COUNCIL CHAMBER MEETING ROOM IN WOOBURN IS ON THE FIRST FLOOR AND IS UNFORTUNATELY NOT ACCESSIBLE FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS. 
FOR DISABLED VISITORS TO THE COUNCIL OFFICES, AN INTERCOM ON THE FRONT DOOR IS NOW INSTALLED.

NOTICE OF MEETINGS

  • Council must give at least 3 clear days notice
  • Agenda must specify time and place and the business to be transacted.  Clerk must send it to the councillor's usual place of residence.  There is no mechanism at present for legal delivery of agenda by email
  • Notice must be posted in a conspicuous place in the parish

FREQUENCY OF MEETINGS

  • Council must have an annual meeting on any day in May but in an election year must be held within 14 days of being elected. 
    NB Councillors do not take up office until 4 days after the election
  • Council must meet on at least 3 other occasions in the year

CONVENING MEETINGS

  • The Clerk convenes ordinary (and on occasion extraordinary) meetings
  • The Chairman may convene an extraordinary meeting at any time
  • If 2 members sign a requisition that an extraordinary meeting be convened, the Chairman must convene it within 7 days. 
    If he/she fails to do so, the members may convene it.

THE QUORUM

  • The quorum is 3, or one third of the total membership, whichever is the greater
  • Where more than one third of the total membership is disqualified, the quorum is 3 or one third of those qualified

CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN

  • The election of Chairman must be the first business at the Annual General Meeting of the Council
  • If the Chairman is not present at a meeting and there is no Vice Chairman, the election of Chairman must be the first business of the meeting
  • The Council may appoint a Vice Chairman
  • A retiring Chairman who is no longer a member has only a casting vote in the election for a new Chairman.  Otherwise, the Chairman may vote initially and have a casting vote and can vote for him/herself
  • The Chairman, or in the Chairman's absence the Vice Chairman, must preside if present

DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE

  • Councillors cannot act until they have signed a Declaration of Acceptance of Office
  • The Chairman must sign a Declaration as Chairman at the meeting at which he/she is elected
  • The Vice Chairman is not required to make a Declaration in respect of office as Vice Chairman
  • Councillors make the Declaration at or before the first meeting after they have been elected, unless the council at that first meeting allows the Declaration to be made at or before a later meeting

APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEES

  • The council can appoint such committees as the council wishes
  • Committees can appoint sub-committees
  • All members of the Finance Committee must be councillors
  • Any function can be delegated to a committee except the power to borrow money, issue a precept or approve end-of-year accounts
  • Committees can delegate any functions to a sub-committee

APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS

  • Councils can appoint such officers as they think fit
  • Councils must appoint a Responsible Finance Officer
  • A Councillor may be appointed as an acting officer (temporary) and cannot be paid

MINUTES

  • Minutes must be entered in a Minute Book
  • Minutes must be signed at the same or the next following meeting by the person presiding
  • The Minute Book can be loose-leaf so long as each leaf is numbered sequentially and each is initialled by the person presiding

CASUAL VACANCIES

  • The vacancy must be publicly notified and the Returning Officer also informed
  • If a poll is claimed by at least 10 electors within 14 days excluding weekends and certain public holidays, then one must be held within 60 days of the notice
  • A poll cannot be claimed if the vacancy arose within 6 months of the day when councillor whose office is declared vacant would ordinarily have retired
  • If no poll is claimed, or one cannot be claimed (as above), then the councillors must try to fill the vacancy by co-option
  • To be co-opted, the successful candidate must receive an absolute majority of those present and voting

FAILURE OF A COUNCILLOR TO ATTEND MEETINGS

  • If a councillor fails for 6 consecutive months to attend any meetings of the council, then he/she ceases to be a councillor unless either his/her absence is due to employment in the armed forces during war or emergency, or the council approve the reason for non-attendance before the 6 months period expired
  • Because of these rules, and for other reasons, the clerk must keep an attendance record for all meetings

RIGHTS OF PUBLIC TO ATTEND MEETINGS

  • The public has the right to attend meetings of the council and its committees
  • The council may, by passing a resolution, exclude them either if the publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest because of the confidential nature of the business, or for other special reasons stated in the resolution and arising from the nature of the business

PECUNIARY INTERESTS

  • A member must declare an interest if there is a pecuniary (ie financial) interest in any contract, proposed contract or other matter and is present at a meeting at which the contract or matter is considered
  • He/she must disclose the interest at the meeting and as soon as practicable after its commencement
  • He/she must not speak nor vote on any question with respect to the matter
  • Standing orders may require the member to leave the meeting as well
  • It is possible to obtain a dispensation from the District Council allowing a member to speak or vote or both if this is considered appropriate
  • A member may give a general notice of an interest which must be recorded in a book kept for this purpose