Woodford Northamptonshire

Annual Parish Meeting

The Annual Parish or Town Meeting, more commonly referred to as the Annual Assembly, must be held between 1st March and 1st June and may not commence before 6pm. Using the term 'Annual Assembly' will help both members and electors alike to differentiate between this meeting and the Annual Meeting of the Council (held any day in May and including election of Chairman). There is a duty under the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, paragraph 14 to hold an Annual Assembly.

Many councils have reported apathy in so many communities in relation to the Annual Assembly. Electors should be aware that the occasion is an opportunity to discuss matters together and is very suitable for considering a particular local public issue. Although members of the parish or town council may be present at the meeting just like any other elector or member of the public, the meeting is not an opportunity to question the council although the meeting may resolve to write to the town or parish council with an enquiry or to give its view on a particular issue.

Who can attend the Annual Assembly and who will preside?

The Annual Assembly is the most basic form of local government, and if there is a parish or town council, the chairman of the council may attend, and if present he/she must preside at the Annual Assembly. The vice-chairman of the parish or town council must preside (if present) if the council chairman is not present. If neither are present the meeting must elect someone to take the chair, and this person will have the powers and authority of the chairman.

Parish and town councillors may attend the meeting if they wish but do so only as electors. It is quite permissible for non-electors to attend the Annual Assembly but it may be important to recognise these people since non-electors do not have a vote.

If the chairman is an elector he has an original as well as a casting vote; if he is not an elector he only has a casting vote.

Who can call a parish or town meeting?

The Chairman of the Parish Council, two parish councillors, or six electors for the area can convene the Annual Assembly or any other parish or town meeting. The person(s) convening the meeting must post a notice and draw up and sign an agenda, which must specify the business to be transacted at the meeting. If a matter has not been specified on the public notice no formally binding decision can be taken upon it at the meeting. Therefore, encouragement to submit items for discussion prior to the meeting is very desirable.

Who pays for the expenses of the Annual Assembly or other parish or town meetings?

The Local Government Act 1972, Section 150 states that where there is a parish council, the expenses of parish meetings are met by it.

Who will take the minutes and attend to correspondence from the meeting?

This responsibility normally falls to the council clerk, although this does not have to be the case. In any event, minutes of the meeting must be taken and these must be kept in a book for the purpose, separate from the parish or town council minutes. The clerk to the parish or town council normally retains the parish meeting minute book.

How many people need to be present to allow a meeting to go ahead (quorum)?

The quorum of the Annual Assembly or other parish or town meeting is two, unless a document has to be executed, then it is three.

What power does the meeting have?

Though the Annual Assembly and other parish meetings may discuss parish affairs, its resolutions differ considerably in their legal consequences. In only a few cases is a resolution legally binding and the parish or town council may legally disregard most resolutions taken by the perish meeting,

Voting at the meeting

Unlike a parish or town council a parish meeting is not required to vote in any particular way, and so the chairman may ascertain the most effective form of vote to take. This may be by voice, show of hands or paper ballot.

It is possible for a poll to be claimed at the meeting on a particular issue if ten or one present (whichever is the less) insist or if the person presiding consents. If a poll is claimed the Returning Officer of the principal council will exercise his powers in a similar way to the procedure for electing a Local councillor. Ballot papers will be issued, a place appointed for voting and the town or parish council will be expected to meet the expenses of the claimed poll.

Other ideas for discussion

The meeting may include outside speakers, or invite voluntary groups and charities from the parish to give a report of recent or annual activities.

Agenda

The Agenda can be found here