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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Parish Council has what it must do and what it may do..., its duties and its powers. If there are points not covered you can e-mail your question to the Clerk or contact the office by phone.
What is a Parish Council?
It is a statutory local authority set up under the Local Government Act 1972. It operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes. In Cornwall there are two types of local authority - the Unitary Authority (Cornwall Council) and the Town or Parish Councils. A Town Council has exactly the same powers as Parish Council - it is simply that the council has decided to take on the title 'town' as more appropriate.
Who is on the council?
The council is made up of 11 councillors elected by the electors of the parish. Every year the council elects one of them to be the Chairman of the council. The council has paid officers who organise meetings and help to carry out the council's decisions - these are the Clerk and Assistant Clerk. They do not vote or make decisions; that is the role of the councillors.
What powers do Parish Councils have?
They have a wide range of powers (Powers and Duties) which essentially relate to local matters, such as looking after footpaths, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and much more. They also have the power to raise money through the precept (council tax).
To whom are they accountable?
The electors of the parish. Elections to parish councils are held every four years. The council's accounts are subject to scrutiny by the District Auditor and the Standards Board for England can investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by individual councillors.
How do people get elected to the council?
Elections are held every four years and will usually coincide with a District Council election. The next election wil be in 2017. A Public Notice of a forthcoming election will be placed on noticeboards.
Why is a person co-opted onto the council?
Sometimes the number of people who put their names forward for election equals or is less than the number of seats for each ward. In these circumstances there is not a poll on election day and the people nominated are deemed elected. By ward, if the number deemed elected is less than the number of seats on the council, then the council is required to co-opt people onto the council to fill the vacancies.
If a seat on the council becomes vacant between normal elections then a special procedure has to be followed which can lead to an election or, more usually, the co-option of a new councillor. It is good practice for a council to advertise widely in the parish if it is seeking to make a co-option. The Clerk will manage this process.
Can I attend meetings of the council?
Yes, all meetings of the council and its committees must be open to the general public and the press, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings must be advertised beforehand - usually on the parish noticeboards, and on this website.
Can I speak at the meeting?
Yes. At the begining of each meeting there is an agenda item, Public Participation. This allows some time for members of the public to address the council on an issue that concerns them. However you cannot speak while the normal business of the meeting is being conducted.
Do councillors have to declare any financial or other personal interests they have in a matter under discussion by the council?
Yes. All councillors have to abide by a Code of Conduct which sets out which interests have to be declared. On the agenda for each meeting is a section Declaration of Interest, wheere councillors record if, relating to items on the agenda, they have interests. These are
Disclosable Pecuniary Interest
b)Of gifts to the value of more than £25
c)To consider requests for dispensations on items on the agenda
Can I see the minutes of council meetings and other papers?
Under the Freedom of Information Act 200 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.