Part 3 of our Easy Guide to the Parish Council
Have you ever been to a Parish Council meeting? Do you know what happens at these meetings? I want to take the lid off the mystery of council meetings and the procedures that take place.
Any member of the public can attend a council or committee meeting and will be made very welcome. In the new council year (from May), the Council will have two committees: ‘Amenities’ will deal with premises, cemeteries, play areas, playing fields, pavilions,etc. ‘Environment & Policy’ will deal with traffic, communication, the general look and feel of the village along with the administrative aspects of the Parish Council.
At a meeting, councillors can only make decisions (resolutions) on issues that have been included on the agenda – in this way, members of the public are given notice of what is happening and have an opportunity to air their own views. Agendas are published about 5 days before the meeting and you can see them on the website although additional information can be obtained from the Parish Council Office. If you have a view about something on the agenda, you can turn up to the meeting and have your say during the break in proceedings (the adjournment) so that councillors can take your comments in to account when discussing the item.
Planning issues regularly cause concern for residents and whilst Rushcliffe BC makes the final decision on planning applications, the Parish Council is asked to send in its own recommendations. Your comments might make a difference to these recommendations – it’s up to you!
Unfortunately, councillors are not able to make decisions on items which are not on the agenda so if you have a ‘burning’ issue that you feel is important, it is best to speak to your ward councillor or write to/speak to the Parish Council office and ask if it is suitable to be included on a future agenda. It might be that the issue can be sorted out without going to committee / council, or it might be that another authority is responsible for that issue – the Clerk can help with this.
Occasionally, there is an item on the agenda which calls for members of the press and public to be excluded whilst it is discussed, however, the result of any discussion will be included in the minutes although personal information may be withheld.
Once you have attended a meeting, you might find that it is more interesting than you first thought. You might feel that you could contribute even more in the future and as a result, might wish to stand for election or co-option at some point in the future. What have you got to lose?
The dates and times of Parish Council and Committee meetings are published on the website, along with agendas and minutes. Your Parish Council is not a secret society, not just for a select few, not just for people with experience of local government – come along and see for yourself.
Next month – Part 4: The Parish Council Office