Frequently Asked Questions about the Parish Council

Frequently Asked Questions

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 because the person holds the post of clerk, including, for example, a contribution towards expenditure on a residence because it is used as the council’s office.

Can a councillor do the clerks job?
Yes, but without remuneration. Council should first resolve that the position of Clerk be unpaid.
Can the parish council give a grant to the Village Hall every year?
Yes, under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which include “buildings, equipment, supplies and assistance of any kind”.

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.

Does a parish council need to have a vice chairman?
No; there is no necessity to have a vice chairman, though many councils choose to do so.

How long should minutes of the parish council be kept?
These should be kept indefinitely as archive materials. Once approved and signed as a correct record they are acceptable as evidence in a court of law, if there are difficulties in storing past minute books they can be lodged with the county record office for safe keeping.

How much notice should be given for a meeting?
Three clear days (excluding weekends and public holidays) for a meeting of the full council.

Do the rules for council meetings (eg notice, agendas etc) apply to sub-committees?

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 2014-2015 is £7.20 and £7.36 for 2015-2016.

What is the quorum for a meeting of the council?
A minimum of three or a third whichever is the greater.

Who makes decisions in an emergency?
It is good practice to specify in standing orders the kind of decisions that the clerk can make routine decisions, such as dealing with emergencies or spending small sums of money. Standing Orders may require decisions to be taken after consultation with two councillors (including the chairman), but the decision remains with the officer. Most important, the council must not allow delegation to a single councillor – not even to the Chairman.

Who decides if a councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest?
The individual councillor!