Frequently Asked Questions
Can a chairman preside at his or her own re-election?
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.
Can a councillor do the clerk's job?
Yes, but without remuneration. Council should first resolve that the position of Clerk be unpaid.
Can a parish council enforce the conditions of a planning application?
No; that is the prerogative of the planning authority, to whom the parish council may only make representations.
Can clerks claim for any expenses because they work from home?
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.
Can complaints about parish councils be made to the Local Government Ombudsman?
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.
Can the parish council give a grant to the Village Hall every year?
Yes, under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which include "buildings, equipment, supplies and assistance of any kind".
Can the public take part in meetings of the Council?
It is now regarded as best practice for councils to have an agenda item where members of the public are permitted to put questions to the council. This is best placed early on the agenda and should have a time limit of no more than 30 minutes.
Does a parish council need to have a vice chairman?
No; there is no necessity to have a vice chairman, though many larger councils choose to do so.
How does a parish council become a town council?
By resolution of the council. There is no necessity of approval by any outside authority.
How long should minutes of the parish council be kept?
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.
How many meetings must a council have?
At least four meetings per year, one of which must be the annual meeting of the council.
How many people are needed to call for a referendum at a parish meeting?
This can be demanded by not less than 10 or one third of the electors present at the meeting, whichever is the less.
How much notice should be given for a meeting?
Three clear days (excluding weekends and public holidays) for a meeting of the full council.
How soon must a casual vacancy on the council be advertised?
Immediately, or as soon as practicable.
If a meeting is adjourned, does a fresh notice have to be issued?
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.
What is the limit of Section 137 Expenditure?
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 2022-2023 is £8.82 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.
What is the quorum for a meeting of the council?
A minimum of three or a third whichever is the greater.
What powers can a parish council delegate to a committee?
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.