Procedures for the conduct of meetings are set out in Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972, and where this is not overridden by legislation, by the standing orders of the council. We have adopted the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) model standing orders.
A parish council consists of the chairman and not fewer than five elected parish councillors. A parish council must hold an annual meeting and at least three other meetings in a year; however monthly meetings are the most common, and some larger councils have fortnightly meetings. An extraordinary meeting may be called at any time by the chairman or members but due notice must be given.
A quorum is at least one-third of the members, or three members, whichever is the greater. Every meeting is open to the public, who are encouraged to attend, except for those items where the council formally resolves to exclude the public and press on the grounds that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest. This would have to be due to the confidential nature of the business. This latter also applies to any committee of the parish council.
The Parish Council can form committees with delegated powers for specific purposes; these must adhere to all the protocol for minute taking and notice of meetings that apply to the full council. A council can also appoint advisory groups which are exempt from these constraints to give flexibility, but these have no delegated powers, and cannot make financial decisions.
Notice of meetings must be given at least three clear days before a parish council meeting and be displayed in a "noticeable place" in the parish, giving time, date and venue. A summons to attend the meeting is also issued, specifying the agenda, to every member of the council. Items not on the agenda cannot be discussed, other than those brought up by the attendance of the general public or in correspondence. However consequent resolutions must be deferred to the next meeting so that due notice can be given.
The minutes of the meeting are taken by the clerk, and are ratified at the next meeting of the council. They must also be displayed in a noticeable place in the parish, and for many councils, they are now also displayed here on the internet. (See the links on the left)
Councillors are expected to adhere to the "Nolan principles" of conduct in public life.
Individual Committees have Terms of Reference or are governed by Regulations, some of these are listed below:
Finance and Resources - Terms of Reference
Finance and Resources – Financial Regulations
Planning and Highways - Terms of Reference
Personnel - Terms of Reference