THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND POLICE AND CRIME PANELS (CORONAVIRUS) (FLEXIBILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY AND POLICE AND CRIME PANEL MEETINGS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2020
These Regulations enable the Parish Council to hold meetings (including by video and telephone conferencing) remotely and we are investigating the possibility of doing so for our May Annual, and other meetings. The regulations require that the Public are able to join in a meeting “so far as reasonably practicable”. They do not now have to have the option of being present in the room for the meeting to be lawful. The Parish Council therefore needs to investigate the practicality of enabling the public to view a remote meeting and to have the usual option of asking questions.
There is the possibility of using “Zoom” for meetings just as the Government’s cabinet has been doing in recent weeks. At present I do not know just how many people it is possible to have join in on a Zoom video meeting.
To be honest with our Electors it would be helpful in these difficult times if the public were to agree not to wish to join in a video meeting but the law remains that you are entitled to do so if it is reasonably practicable. If you do wish to join in then can you please provide me with your name, email details and your home address. I can then see what, if any, logistical difficulties there may be.
You have until the 24th of April to register your interest. If no one does register by that date then a meeting may proceed with public notice on this web site along with the agenda and background papers
Please note that the law has changed such that the Parish Council Annual Meeting does not have to take place but we are trying to see if we can continue with business as near as usual as these difficult times permit. There are some decisions that we have to take and need to do so as the law requires.
Parton Parish Full Council meets normally each month on the 2nd Wednesday at 7pm in either the Village Hall or the Village School.
Notice of Meeting, agendas and previous minutes are available from this website. Please click on the drop down tabs above.
We welcome all residents young and old and anyone that shows an interest in our meetings. Your support is greatly appreciated. Public participation is encouraged. It means that members of the public can express their views or ask questions in a specified slot during a meeting as long as it is relating to an item on that agenda.
Parton Parish Council meetings are important; this is where you play your part as a decision maker. The Chair is in charge of the meeting, and the Clerk (or perhaps a deputy) supports the council as it discusses business. The meeting is the council team in action.
Council meetings and committee meetings are formal events, not social occasions. They have a clear purpose – to make decisions – and are not just talking shops. Furthermore, they are public events; the meetings must be advertised and the press and public have a right to observe, record and report on how the council operates. The same approach should be adopted for sub-committees. Exceptions are when sensitive issues are discussed (such as legal, contractual or staffing matters) and then the council can agree to exclude the press and public for just that item of business.
The council decides on a schedule of meetings for the year.
- Council meetings are meetings of the full council. All councillors are expected to attend.
- Committee meetings bring together a smaller number of councillors to concentrate on a specific function of the council and share the workload
Some committees are permanent or standing committees, but others are set up for a short-term project. Many councils have a permanent Planning Committee allowing them to comment on planning applications as required without convening a full council meeting.
Some committees are advisory; they make recommendations to the full council, which then makes the decisions. There are also executive committees where the full council delegates responsibility for certain decisions to the committee. The committee then reports its decisions to the full council. This helps the Planning Committee to make decisions without referring to the full council.
- Sub-committees are appointed by a committee to focus discussion on a specific topic among an even smaller group of councillors. Otherwise, they operate like committees.
- Working parties or ‘task-and-finish’ groups are occasionally set up for a short-term purpose. They are not subject to the strict rules that apply to formal council meetings and do not need to be held in public. A working party cannot make a decision on behalf of the council, but they can explore options and present these to the council for a decision.
- There are rules about who is permitted to join a committee or sub- committee. Sometimes non-councillors can be included (although with a few exceptions, they cannot vote). This is an excellent means of involving others, particularly young people, in council work.
The rules for the Annual Meeting of the Council will be contained in the council’s standing orders. Remember, these include rules of procedure laid down in legislation and additional regulations chosen by your council. Standing orders help the council to operate smoothly. For example, a third of the councillors (or three, whichever is the greater) must be present for the meeting to go ahead; this is known as the quorum. The council can set a higher quorum for committees through standing orders if it wishes. Other standing orders will determine, for example:
- the order of business
- the length of meetings and the duration of speaking time
- the schedule of meetings for the year
- delegation to committees and officers
- voting requirements
- procedures for public participation.
Our Standing Orders are available to view on this site from the drop down list above.
Respecting the Chair
The Chair is in charge during council meetings; this is an office created by legislation commanding respect. Remember, the Chair is elected at the Annual Meeting of the Council for one year. The Chair has a duty to ensure that council meetings run smoothly, that all business is properly considered and all councillors who wish to speak can do so. It is good practice for the Chair to refer to the Clerk for advice.
The Chair has few special powers. For instance, it is unlawful for a council to delegate decision making to any individual councillor and the Chair is no different. However, when a vote is tied, the Chair may use a second, or casting vote.
Where councillors, Clerk and Chair work together as a team they combine knowledge and skills to deliver real benefits to the community they serve. Good working relationships, mutual respect and an understanding of their different roles are vital. Conflict between these key players, especially during meetings in front of the press or public can damage the council.
Two Annual Meetings
Annual Meeting of the Council- AGM
If you are elected in May your first meeting will be the Annual Meeting of the Council. This is where you elect a Chair and probably a vice-Chair, and appoint committee members and representatives to other bodies. Remember that this is a meeting of the council.
Annual Parish Meeting
The Annual Parish or Town Meeting is not a council meeting. It is a meeting of the Parish or Town electors taking place between 1 March and 1 June. Electors can contribute to the Agenda and in practice these meetings often celebrate local activities and debate current issues in the community. The Chair of the council, any two councillors or any six electors can call the Annual Parish or Town Meeting. The Chair, if present, will Chair the meeting. It is best practice to hold the Annual Meeting of the Council and the Annual Parish Meeting on different occasions to avoid confusion.
The quorum is the number of councillors who must be present. If enough councillors are present then the meeting is said to be quorate. If it is not quorate then business cannot be discussed.