The Council is made up of councillors elected by the electors of the parish. Every year the council elects one Councillor to be the Chairman of the Council. Councillors are not paid but the council employs a paid officer, the Clerk, who organises meetings and helps implement the council’s decisions. The clerk is also the Responsible Financial Officer for the Council. Calne Without Parish Councillors can be found here.
Elections are held every four years and will usually coincide with other local elections. A Public Notice of a forthcoming election will be placed on noticeboards and website.
There are occasions when the number of people who put their names forward for election is less than the required number of seats on the council. In these circumstances an election is not required and those who stood for election are deemed elected. In order to fill vacancies, the council is required to co-opt other residents. The standing orders of the council describe this process.
If a seat becomes vacant between normal elections, then a special procedure has to be followed which can lead to an election or the co-option of a new councillor. It is good practice to advertise widely in the parish if it is seeking to make a co-option.
Parish Councils have a wide range of powers – see the attached link https://www.wiltshire-alc.org.uk/attachments/article/107/Powers%20and%20duties%20of%20local%20councils.pdf which essentially relates to local matters, such as looking after community assets, provision for cleanliness, open spaces, play areas and some street lighting.
The Council has no powers to approve or reject planning applications. The Parish Council is consulted by the relevant Planning Authority on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of the planning application. However, the final decision is made by the Planning Authority, not the Parish Council.
The Council is accountable to the electors of the parish. Elections to Parish Councils are held every four years. The Councils accounts are subject to scrutiny by external audit.
Yes, all meetings of the council and its committees must be open to the general public, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings and agenda must be advertised beforehand, usually on the parish noticeboards and website. The notice must be posted at least three days before the meeting.
The Council allows some time at all its meeting for residents and the community to make representations about issues of concern or that are being discussed by the Council. The time set aside is usually at the beginning of the meeting when standing orders are suspended. Once the business of the meeting has commenced under standing orders further interventions by residents are not permissible; unless the Chairman decides, and the council agree, that Standing Orders can be suspended to allow this.
Documents are published on the Parish Council website. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2010 you may see and have a copy of the recorded information held by the council (unless it is classed as exempt under the Act). This includes reports, minutes, correspondence and emails. The information has to be provided within 20 working days. There may be a photocopying charge for providing the information.