We are a small parish, without a Parish Council, but the Parish Meeting has been granted limited powers of a Parish Council in order to raise a precept, primarily to meet the costs of maintaining our parish cemetery and a parish defibrillator.
Over the past 20 years, it has become increasingly difficult to persuade anyone to take over the office of Chairman. Matters came to a head some six years ago, when we decided to seek a Community Governance Review (GGR) with a view to establishing a Joint Parish Council with a larger, neighbouring parish. Agreement was reached with our neighbours, and the very helpful Proper Officer of the District Council (as one of the Parish Trustees) attended the Annual Assembly at which no Chairman was expected to be elected, in order to assume the Chair and initiate the CGR process. Unfortunately, an unexpected candidate (who had no prior knowledge of the role of either the Parish Meeting or its Chairman) emerged at the very last moment: such was the relief of the meeting at the prospect of maintaining our independence that he was elected. He resigned three months later, and the casual vacancy was filled by the previous Chairman (myself), following which two new arrivals to the parish have served successful terms in the Chair.
Now, however, we are back to where we were six years ago: work commitments on the part of our excellent Chairperson of the past three years mean that she is unable to stand for further re-election, and no successor candidate has emerged. Our neighbouring parish council has confirmed that it is still willing to pursue a CGR with a view to forming a Joint Parish Council, but the District Council and its current Proper Officer are far less amenable than previously to helping us move forward: in particular, the Proper Officer has been advised that his involvement would not be appropriate, his duty as Parish Trustee notwithstanding.
We (together with our neighbouring parish council) can certainly request a CGR before our incumbent Chairperson's term of office comes to an end, but who is to take the process forward? Who would be able to authorise budgeted expenditure during the coming year, or to set a budget and precept requirement for the following year, whilst a CGR is proceeding? Is it unreasonable to expect the remaining Parish Trustee to step up to the plate, as his predecessor did?
Any advice as to how we should now proceed would be extremely welcome!