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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chairman preside at his or her own re-election?

Yes. A 'retiring' chair can preside, can nominate them self, vote for them self, and use their casting vote in their own favour.

Can a councillor do the clerks job?

Yes, but they cannot be paid. Council should first resolve that the position of Clerk be unpaid.

Can clerks claim for any expenses because they work from home?

A local council can certainly pay the legitimate expenses of its officers. This right is expressly affirmed by the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963, s.5. A council may thus pay a contribution towards expenses incurred by the clerk, including, for example, a contribution towards expenditure on a residence because it is used as the council's office.

Can the public take part in meetings of the Council?

It is now regarded as best practice for councils to have an agenda item where members of the public are permitted to put questions to the council. This is best placed early on the agenda and should have a time limit of no more than 30 minutes. The public should not take part in the remainder of the meeting.

I don't think we will have anyone who will agree to be Chairman at the Annual Meeting of the Council. What can we do about this?

A parish council must have a Chairman. He or she is elected annually at the Annual Meeting of Council in May (LGA 1972 sect 15(1). The council cannot function without a chairman. If no members of the council will take the role, then the meeting will have to be abandoned. A further meeting can be called to try to resolve the situation, but if this fails, then the district or borough council has reserve powers and can intervene.

There are various ideas that have been proposed to resolve this dilemma. These include encouraging someone to stand as Chair for a shorter period of time, for example one month. After this time he or she can resign the Chair and another member can be appointed so everyone takes a turn. 

Sometimes there is a particular issue which makes councillors reluctant to take on the role, if this can be addressed by the council to remove the obstacle then someone may come forward to be chair.

Ultimately, this must be resolved by the parish council, and councillors must be reminded of their duty.

Incidentally, there is no legal requirement for a parish council to have a Vice Chairman, although most councils do.

Notice of a Parish Council meeting must be published with at least three clear days notice, but does this include Saturdays and Sundays?

The three clear days does not include the day the notice is issued nor the day of the meeting. Additionally, s.243 of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that the following days do not count when computing the three clear days:

Sundays

A day of the Christmas break

A day of the Easter break

Bank holidays, and

Days appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning

Occasionally, extra public holidays will be announced (such as a Royal marriage) and these also need to be excluded when computing the three clear days.

One of our councillors has not attended a meeting for six months - can we get rid of him?

If a parish councillor fails to attend any meeting of the parish council (or its committees) or a meeting where he or she formally represents the council, for a period of 6 months, without submitting apologies for absence which are properly approved by the council, then he or she automatically ceases to be a parish councillor on the 6-month anniversary of their last attendance, and a casual vacancy must be declared. It is vitally important to note that simply recording apologies does not of itself automatically signify that they have been approved by the council. Long absences must receive proper approval before the 6 months are up. Once the 6 months has passed there is nothing further which can be done - the councillor has ceased to be a councillor. This is not a matter for the parish council to decide upon, only to record the facts of the matter.

Therefore, if a councillor is likely to be absent for a long period of time - perhaps through ill health - then the reason for the absence should be formally approved (if the council so wishes).

What is the limit of Section 137 Expenditure?

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the appropriate sum for parish councils in England for the purposes of section 137(4) (a) of the Local Government Act 1972 ("the 1972 Act") for 2020-2021 is £8.32

What is the quorum for a meeting of the council?

A minimum of three or a third whichever is the greater. Please note rounding is always up in this calculation, for example on a council of 13 members, one third is 4.33. 4 is below one third so 5 councillors would be needed for a quorum.

What scale should we pay our clerk?

The council is free to set the hours and salary of the clerk. In 2004 NALC and the SLCC provided a National Agreement on Salaries and Conditions of Service for Clerks in England and Wales. Many councils use the scales from this agreement to set their clerk's remuneration. A copy of the latest pay scales and a copy of the guidance on how to use the scales can be found in our publications list.