Frequently asked questions

Yes. A ‘retiring’ chairman must preside if present (even if they are no longer a councillor following an ordinary election), can nominate her/himself, vote for her/himself, and use her/his casting vote in their own favour.

In an emergency (e.g. to cover a temporary vacancy) a councillor may fulfil the role of clerk to the local council. However, it is not good practice for councillors to do this on anything other than a very temporary basis as it confuses officer/councillor roles.

 

It should be noted that councillors may not be paid employees of their council (as there is an unacceptable conflict of interest) and may not become employees of their former council until at least 12 months after ceasing to be a councillor.

No; that is the prerogative of the planning authority, to whom the parish council may only make representations.

A local council can certainly pay the legitimate expenses of its officers. This right is expressly affirmed by the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963, s.5. A council may thus pay a contribution towards expenses incurred by the clerk because the person holds the post of clerk, including, for example, a contribution towards expenditure on a residence because it is used as the councils office.

No. An aggrieved parishioner should request a copy of the council’s complaints policy and follow its procedures. The final form of redress is by way of judicial review.

Yes, under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which include “buildings, equipment, supplies and assistance of any kind”.

It is important to emphasise that council meetings are meetings in public and not public meetings.  It is best practice for councils to have public participation time at the start of the meeting where members of the public are permitted to put questions to the council. If the subject is not on the evenings agenda, it may only be answered outside of the meeting or added as an agenda item at the next meeting.  

No; there is no necessity to have a vice chairman, though many larger councils choose to do so.

By resolution of the council. There is no necessity of approval by any outside authority.

These should be kept indefinitely as archive materials. Once approved and signed as a correct record they are acceptable as evidence in a court of law, if there are difficulties in storing past minute books they can be lodged with the county record office for safe keeping.

At least four meetings per year, one of which must be the annual meeting of the council.

This can be demanded by not less than 10 or one third of the electors present at the meeting, whichever is the less.

Three clear days (excluding weekends and public holidays, the day of the summons and the day of the meeting) for a meeting of the full council.

Immediately, or as soon as practicable, having first contacted the Electoral Officer to ask for the appropriate notice which will needed to be posted around the parish.  

No; the re-convened meeting is considered to be a continuation of the original meeting at which all members will have been made aware of the adjournment.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the appropriate sum for parish councils in England for the purposes of section 137(4) (a) of the Local Government Act 1972 (“the 1972 Act”) for 2024-2025 is £10.81 per elector. Remember that s137 is a power of last resort, so you should only use this when no other power is available. Expenditure must benefit some or all of your electorate. s137 payments must be recorded as a separate column within your accounts.

A minimum of three or a third of councillor seats, whichever is the greater.

A parish council may arrange to discharge any of its functions through a committee of the council (Local Government Act 1972, s.101), other than those of issuing a precept for a rate, borrowing money, and the approval of a lottery.

A Councillor is appointed either through the process of election (Town and Parish elections are  held every four years) or they are co-opted at a later stage when a casual vacancy arises within the four year term when a Councillor resigns, dies, or becomes disqualified. All councillors are equal.  The only difference is that co-opted councillors cannot receive a Councillor Allowance, although they may be reimbursed for expenses disbursed on behalf of the council in line with the councils usual policy.

This page was last updated on March 13, 2024