Parish Meetings are quite distinct from meetings of the Parish Council, although the two are often confused.
The confusion arises for several reasons:
- if present, the Chairman of the Parish Council must chair the Parish Meeting;
- the Clerk to the Parish Council organises and takes the minutes of the Parish Meeting;
- the Annual Parish Meeting often takes place on the same evening as the AGM of the Parish Council.
Some of the differences are as follows.
- Any person on the Electoral Register of the Parish is entitled to speak at a Parish Meeting, at a meeting of the Parish Council members of the Public may speak only at the Chairman’s discretion.
- With the exception of the Chairman, Councillors rank the same as other members of the Electorate.
- Agendas for Parish Council meetings must be published three days ahead of the meeting, for Parish Meetings a skeleton Agenda is usually published ahead of the meeting, but often items are added up to and even during the meeting.
- Only Councillors may request items to be placed on the Agenda of a Parish Council Meeting whereas any member of the Electorate may do so at a Parish Meeting.
- Any matter pertinent to the Parish may be discussed at a Parish Meeting, whereas at a Parish Council meeting subjects for discussion should be limited to those matter on which the Council has the power to act (conferred by various Acts of Parliament).
- The Press and general public have a right to attend Parish Meetings, but anyone not on the Electoral Register of the Parish is “stranger” and does not have the right to vote.
In a summary:
A Parish Meeting is a meeting of the people of the parish.
A Parish Council Meeting is a meeting of the Parish Councillors.