Council meetings are important; this is where decision are made for the parish. The chairman is in charge of the meeting, and the clerk 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 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.
It may seem strange, but local electors/residents do not have the right to speak at any parish council meeting, including the annual council meeting, but many councils set aside a period, often before the meeting starts, to allow for public comments and questions.
Annual Parish Meeting and the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council are controlled by law, namely the Local Government Act 1972.
The Annual Meeting of a Parish Council, (often erroneously called the AGM) must take place in May and like all parish council meetings, only 3 clear days notice is required. In an election year the annual meeting must take place on the day when councillors take office, or within 14 days thereafter. Councillors take office 4 days after the day of election.
At the annual meeting a new chairman must be nominated. A vice-chairman may be nominated also and appointments to committees made.
The Annual Parish Meeting is held on a date between 1st March and 30th June each year and must not start before 6pm. At least 7 clear days notice of the meeting (including agenda) must be given or 14 days if any of the topics concern establishing, abolishing or merging the parish council.
A meeting for residents of the parish and an opportunity for local residents and organisations to learn what the parish council has been doing on their behalf for the past year.
The meeting is also an opportunity for residents to discuss and ask questions about local issues which are important to them. Residents can usually submit items for the agenda or raise items during the meeting.
It is open to everybody although only those who are resident within the Parish have the right to speak and only those on the electoral roll have a right to vote. The meeting is designed to allow everyone within the parish to get together to discuss any topics of local interest and is a relatively informal and user-friendly meeting.
Members of the parish council do not have to attend this meeting but the Chairman of the Parish Council must preside if he is present and the parish council as a body should take notice of the items raised at the meeting for discussion/consideration in the next full parish council meeting.
The Parish Council pays for any cost associated with holding the annual parish meeting.
The right to record, film and to broadcast meetings of Local Councils, committees and sub committees was established following the Local Government Audit and Accountability Act 2014. Many parish councils now include audio recordings of meetings on their website for residents who are unable to attend meetings, including North Huish Parish Council.