The Local Government Act 1972 states that ‘for every parish there shall be a Parish Meeting for the purpose of discussing parish affairs and exercising any functions conferred on such meetings by any enactment…’.
A Simple Guide to Parish Meetings
Parish Meetings are quite distinct from meetings of the Parish Council, although the two are often confused.
The confusion arises for several reasons
- If present, the Chairman of the Parish Council must chair the Parish Meeting;
- The Clerk to the Parish Council organises and takes the minutes of the Parish Meeting;
- The Annual Parish Meeting often takes place on the same evening as the AGM of the Parish Council.
Some of the differences are as follows
- Any person on the electoral register of the parish is entitled to speak at a Parish Meeting, at a meeting of the Parish Council members of the public may speak only at the Chairman’s discretion.
- With the exception of the Chairman, councillors rank the same as other members of the electorate.
- Agendas for Parish Council meetings must be published three days ahead of the meeting, for Parish Meetings a skeleton agenda is usually published ahead of the meeting, but often items are added up to and even during the meeting.
- Only Councillors may request items to be placed on the agenda of a Parish Council meeting whereas any member of the electorate may do so at a Parish Meeting.
- Any matter pertinent to the parish may be discussed at a Parish Meeting, whereas at a Parish Council meeting subjects for discussion should be limited to those matter on which the council has the power to act (conferred by various Acts of Parliament).
- The press and general public have a right to attend Parish Meetings, but anyone not on the electoral register of the parish is ‘stranger’ and does not have the right to vote.
In a summary
A Parish Meeting is a meeting of the people of the parish.
A Parish Council Meeting is a meeting of the parish councillors.