- Q?What is a Parish Council?
In England, under the Local Government Act of 1894, Parish councils take over local oversight of civic duties in rural towns and villages. They are the smallest areas of civil administration in England providing the statutory first tier of local government that is closest to the people.
They are corporate bodies and local authorities recognised in law and must meet at a minimum of four meetings a year. One of these meetings must be the Annual Meeting of the council which must be held in May of each year. The chairman or mayor is always chosen at this meeting. Most councils meet ten or eleven time a year.
- Q?Can I attend Parish Council meetings?
Yes. Every parish council meeting and any sub committee meeting are open to any member of the public. The council can however resolve to exclude the public from all or part of their meeting on the grounds that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons stated in the resolution and arising from the nature of the business of the proceedings (Public Bodies (Admission to meetings) Act 1960 s1). These are usually the exception. To give electors the opportunity to attend meetings, notices of meetings should be advertised throughout the parish usually with three clear days notice. Some councils also use websites and the local press to inform you of meetings.
- Q?Can I see the minutes of parish council meetings?
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you may see and have a copy of the ‘recorded’ information held by the council (unless it is classed as exempt information in the Act). This includes reports, minutes, correspondence and emails. The information has to be provided within 20 working days. There may be a photocopying charge for hard copies. Alternatively all agendas and minutes of parish council meetings are available on the parish council website.