What is the process of a Parish Council meeting?
In normal times, the meeting is announced with an agenda on the website and on notice boards at least three working days in advance. Meetings are held in the Village Hall. However, during the Coronavirus outbreak meetings will be held online. See the here for details. Prior to the meeting members of the public may make statements, ask questions, etc at the discretion of the Chair.
The meeting is quite formal and councillors hear reports, discuss agenda items, make decisions, allocate funds, award grants, review and comment on planning applications and agree the activities of individual councillors, e.g. monitoring the Parish Steward, arranging dates for the Litter Pick, placing notices in the Parish News and this website, etc.
The Clerk is responsible for advising the Council on their powers, matters of procedure and correspondence to and from the Council. S/he is the point of contact from outside the Council. S/he is also the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO). In this capacity s/he is the council’s accountant/treasurer.
How do I join an online Parish Council meeting?
During the Coronavirus outbreak meetings will be held online using the Zoom video-conferencing facility. Joining details are given on the first page of the agenda. Contact the ">Clerk if you need further assistance.
Can I speak at a Parish Council meeting?
Members of the public have a right to attend Parish Council meetings. However, they may only speak before the meeting-proper at the discretion of the Chair.
How do I become a Parish Councillor?
To stand for election on the parish council, you must:
- be a UK or Commonwealth citizen; or
- be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; or
- be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union; and
- be at least 18 years old.
- be an elector of the parish; or
- in the past 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish; or
- work in the parish (as your principal or only place of work); or
- live within three miles of the parish boundary.
You don’t have to be connected to a political party.
If you do become a parish councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct and submit a Register of Interests.
The best way to start is to contact the Clerk or the Chair for information.
How often are Parish Council elections held?
Full Parish Council elections are held every four years – usually at the same time as the Principal Authority’s (Wiltshire Council) elections. When this happens, all current councillors resign (are resigned!) and an election is held. If the election is not contested, i.e. if there are five or less candidates for the five vacancies, then those candidates automatically get elected and become councillors on the day after the election. However, if there are more candidates than vacancies then the election is contested and the full election procedure is employed – poll cards, polling station, count, etc. If there are fewer candidates than vacancies then the Council has the opportunity to co-opt people onto the Council.
The next full Parish Council election will be on Thursday 6th May 2021.
Parish Council’s Powers and Duties
The Parish Council has a variety of [statutory] powers and duties. Here’s the list: Parish Council’s legal powers and duties
‘Section 137’ payments
Under Section 137(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972, parish councils may spend money on a wide variety of projects and schemes that do not fall within their [other] specific statutory powers. Common uses are for one-off donations or grants for community activities, small gifts and minor purchases, e.g. a wreath for Remembrance Day. The limit of Section 137 funds is determined by an annual nationally-assessed figure per head of electorate multiplied by the total electorate. That figure for 2020-21 is £8.32. Therefore Upper Deverills Parish Council’s Section 137 spend this year is limited to £2,329.60 (£8.32 x 280 electorate).
Do Town or Parish Councils have any planning powers?
Parish councils are not Planning Authorities. Wiltshire Council publishes all planning applications (and decisions) and has the duty to inform parish councils. This means that we only have the right to be informed of planning applications within the parish. We can not approve or reject planning applications. We can only comment on them in the same way that individuals can.
Can a parish council reject a planning application?
Parish councils can only agree to comment on planning applications in properly announced council meetings which the public can attend. Parish councils are statutory consultees but have no powers to approve or reject planning applications. We can only comment them.
Do parish councils grant planning permissions?
Parish councils are not Planning Authorities. We are only statutory consultees in the planning process. The decision whether this is granted rests solely with Wiltshire Council which has its own deadlines for decision making.
How do parish councils comment on planning applications?
Parish councils are statutory consultees and have no powers to approve or reject planning applications. They can only comment on them in council meetings which the public can attend.
How do I make a complaint?
- If you wish to make a complaint about the Council’s procedures or adminstration you should write to, email, phone or speak in person to the Clerk.
- If your complaint is about an officer of the Parish Council (currently only the Clerk) you should put your complaint in writing with as much detail as possible, and send it to the Chair.
- If you wish to complain about the Council as a whole, or about a specific Councillor, you should contact Wiltshire Council’s Monitoring Officer using that Council’s procedure. Follow this link.