Frequently Asked Questions
Who can be a Councillor?
To be eligible for election a person must be over 18 years of age on the day of the poll, be a British subject, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union. In addition the person must be an elector for the area or, during the whole 12 months before nomination as a candidate, must have occupied land as a tenant or owner in the Parish (or within 3 miles of it) or have his or her principle or only place of work in the parish.
Who can vote in Parish Council elections?
A person is entitled to be registered as a local government elector if:-
- They are resident in the local government area (but see below)
- They are not subject to any legal incapacity to vote
- They are a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of a member state of the European Union
- They will attain voting age before the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the 1st December next following the relevant date
- Second home owners (providing it is not a business) can register to vote at both their main home and second home. They can vote at only one of these in General Elections but are able to vote at both in local elections. However, an elector may not cast more than one ballot paper in the same ward, or cast a ballot paper in more that one ward of the same local authority.
- An elector who satisfies the residence and other registration conditions can, however, vote at elections to two different local authorities as these are two distinctly separate bodies of elected representatives
Grange Park Parish Council currently has approximately 4,000 registered local government electors.
When are elections and how long is a Council life?
The term of office of a Parish Council is normally four years and the timing of elections is linked to the election of District Councillors of the ward containing the parish. When there are an equal number, or fewer, candidates than there are vacancies, all candidates are elected unopposed and no poll is taken. Where there are fewer candidates than vacant seats, the Parish Council has a duty to co-opt persons to fill the vacancies. This power may only be exercised if there is a quorum of Councillors present and must be completed within 35 days of the election. If the Parish Council fails to fill the vacancies within this period, the District Council may dissolve it and order fresh elections. When a casual vacancy occurs it may be filled either by election or co-option. Election occurs when, after the vacancy has been advertised for 14 days, there is more than one candidate - each candidate being supported in writing to the returning officer by 10 or more electors.
How many Councillors sit on a Parish Council?
The number of Councillors on a Parish Council is set by the Unitary or District Council. The number of Councillors can be increased or decreased at the request of the Parish Council if there is an appropriate reason, but the minimum number of Councillors is five. There is no formal link between the number of electors and the size of the council.
Grange Park Parish Council is made up of 12 Councillors.
What is the difference between the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council and the Annual Parish Meeting?
The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council must be held in May and in an election year must be held between 4 and 14 days after polling day. This is the meeting where the Parish Council elects the chairman, makes other annual appointments and reviews their insurance etc.
The Annual Parish Meeting can be held between 1st March and 30th June. This is the meeting where the Parish Council invites the public to hear reports from the chairman etc. There is also an opportunity for the public to express their opinions on what the Council is doing and raise questions about past and future actions.
Am I allowed to speak at a Parish Council meeting?
Residents have the right to attend all Parish Council meetings. They do not have the right to speak during the formal Parish Council meeting but, if they inform the Chairman before the meeting starts that they wish to raise a matter, they will normally set time aside before the formal meeting commences for them to speak. They cannot take part in any ensuing discussion.
Can I see Parish Council minutes and papers?
Yes. The Parish Council is required to make a range of documents open to inspection. As with any public body the Freedom of Information Act applies to the Parish Council. You can find agendas and minutes on the Grange Park Parish Council website.
What is a quorum of the Parish Council?
Three at least, up to a Council with nine members. thereafter, at least one third of the total membership, for our council therefore four.
Can the public be excluded from a Parish Council meeting?
Yes if there is confidential business or if there is some other good reason. The exclusion has to be voted for by a majority of Councillors present and the reason has to be stated in the motion to exclude and then in the minutes of the meeting.
What notice is required for a Parish Council meeting?
Three clear days are required not counting the day of the notice or the day of the meeting. The following 'do not count':- Sundays, a day of the Christmas break, a day of the Easter break, bank holidays and official days of mourning.
Can the Parish Council meet on a Sunday?
Yes. The Parish Council can meet on any day.
Where can the Parish Council meet?
Parish Councils are allowed to meet in any venue open to the public except licenced premises, unless there is no alternative venue available at reasonable cost. Grange Park Parish Council meets at Grange Park Community Centre, note due to COVID-19 recent meetings have been held virtually via the Zoom application.
How often are Parish Councils required to meet?
They must hold an annual meeting and at least three other meetings each year.
The Council held 12 statutory meetings during the year including the Annual Parish Meeting and Annual General Meeting. Meetings are normally held every first Thursday of the month (no meeting in August) at Grange Park Community Centre and we welcome all parishioners to attend. We always provide an opportunity for questions, concerns or comments to be raised at the start of each meeting.
Can an Agenda include any other business?
Yes, but no decision may be made on an item of business raised in this way.
How does the Parish Council raise money?
Parish Councils are empowered to raise money for their activities through a tax (the precept) on residents, which is collected on their behalf by the County Council as an addition to the Council tax. This is then paid to the Parish Council in two instalments. Though not actually 'capped' in their expenditure, as are principal Councils, the activities of Parish Councils are effectively limited by what can reasonably be raised from the Parish.
What is the precept?
The precept is the Parish Council's share of the council tax. A breakdown of all spending can be found on the Parish Councils website and is published annually as part of the Transparency Code.
What are the powers and responsibilities of Parish Councils?
Parish Councils play a vital role in representing the interests of local people and improving the quality of life and the local environment. On top of this they can influence other decision makers and can, in many cases, deliver services to meet local needs. The services delivered by these councils can include planning, highways, traffic, community safety, housing, street lighting, allotments, cemeteries, playing fields, community centres, litter, war memorials, seats and shelters and rights of way.
Do you review planning applications?
The Parish Council comments on applications for Planning Consent within the Parish. The Parish Council is a statutory consultee, and reviews copies of all applications and plans when advised of their on-line availability by the County Council. It has no actual power to refuse or consent to an application. It acts as the voice of the Parish, rather than for any individual.
How do I complain about my Parish Council?
In the first instance you should send your complaint to the Parish Clerk marked confidential. If you are not happy with the outcome you should complain to your Council, South Northants Council.
How is a Parish or Parish Council changed?
Since February 2008 the power to create new Parishes and Parish Councils, to alter Parish boundaries, to dissolve Parish Councils and to abolish Parishes has been devolved to District or Unitary councils (know as 'Principal Councils'). This process is know as a 'community governance review'.