Questions about town and parish councils
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Under what circumstances can members of the public "bring down" or cause a Parish Council to be dissolve or wound up.?.
by (120 points)

2 Answers

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There is no guaranteed way to do this.  It is possible for parishioners to insist on a parish meeting, and that meeting can take votes and could pass a vote of no confidence in the parish council and ask that it be dissolved.  However, this request has to be put to the district council, which is likely to be reluctant to act while there is a council in place.

There have been instances of a parish council (such as Radnage) being dissolved as a result of pressure from a parish meeting, but the actual mechanism for this was that the parish councillors were eventually persuaded to resign en masse. When there are no parish councillors left, cooption becomes impossible (as does anything else) and the district council is obliged to step in and arrange an election.

Sometimes public pressure (perhaps including a parish meeting) will result in sufficient resignations to change the character of the council. Whenever there is a vacancy, an option exists for ten electors to demand a poll, rather than cooption. The cost of the poll will fall on the parish, as it does if the councillors all resign.

The simplest approach, especially with the next election being only six months away, is to ensure that new people stand for election as councillors in the elections that routinely occur every four years. The parish does not have to pay for the four yearly election. EDIT: I was mistaken on this last point. Principal authorities can charge back election expenses to local councils. Many local councils have their elections at the same time as the district council elections, and in this case, the most that can be charged is a pro rata portion of the total election cost. The administrative cost of charge backs may not be worthwhile. In the case of the council on which I sit and many others, the district council has always waived the charge.

It is possible for a parish council to be permanently dissolved, leaving all local matters to the district council. Again, this is usually instigated by the sitting councillors. It is usually better for a parish to try to find councillors who can work in relative harmony with local people rather than abandoning parish initiatives entirely.
by (33.4k points)
edited by
Are you sure parishes do not have to pay for four yearly elections? Please provide conclusive evidence to support that statement. Thanks.
Now you ask, and I have looked further, it seems that I am at least partially in error. Legislation allows principal authorities to recharge election expenses to local councils. The town council on which I sit has never been charged (except for a by-election), and I believe this is true of many other councils where the parish or town council election coincides with the district council. In this case, the most that can be charged is a pro rata portion of the full cost and this has often been waived. However, it may well be that pressure on local authority finances will push more councils to recharge, although there is an obvious question about whether it is worthwhile incurring the administrative cost of raising recharges.
Thanks for the reply. It is certainly the case that my county charges for parish elections, (£370 for a parish of 39 electors! if my memory serves me right) and these tremendous costs are used by the parish council to discourage residents standing and bring about contested elections. The result is the dreaded clique building co-option. It is little wonder that sites and organisations like yours are inundated with the same old complaints against antidemocratic, incompetent, expensive, sloppy, bullying parish councils and their members at a time when so many plead for residents to get involved, only those residents to be disgusted with what they find when they do. Added to that is the absolute and complete failure of the toothless monitoring system. I predict many more calls for the abolition or reform of this time expired system created in 1894 when the internet, telephones, and literacy were things of the dim and distant future.
0 votes
Local electors can petition a principle authority to hold a governance review on the Parish Council in question. 7.5% or more must sign the petition for it to be accepted and for the review to be considered. The petition should indicate that they want the review to bring about the dissolution.   In many cases, a principle authority could call for a referendum to be held.
by (840 points)

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