Can members of the public call an extraordinary meeting?

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There was an article in 'The Times' recently that suggested that members of the public, according to NaLC, six could 'force' a meeting about an issue. Is this true and what is the process?
asked by (230 points)

2 Answers

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Six electors can call a parish meeting (or town meeting). That is not the same as a council meeting, but it can be used to raise local issues and request action. The people calling the meeting should state the matters to be discussed, and the parish council (normally the clerk) must arrange the meeting. The council chairman must chair the meeting if present, but has to allow the matters raised by electors to be discussed and voted on. In most cases, a vote at a parish meeting is not binding on the council, but in principle the council should take notice of the views of the electorate.
answered by (26.6k points)
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As reported by Counterpoint, six electors can call a Town or Parish meeting.  However I anticipate issues that could be problematic.

By default, the chair of the meeting is the Chair of the Town or Parish Council. I suspect they can decide what is on the agenda, and could potentially try to prevent what the electors seek to have raised being discussed.  If the Chair of the PC/TC does not attend, I think one of the electors could chair it.

Normally, PC's/TC's hold a scheduled Town or Parish meeting  I the electors  try to convene a Town or Parish meeting which is in addition to the scheduled  one, an awkward chair could argue that they should have raised the issue(s)  at the scheduled one, and as they haven't could try to prevent what the electors seek to have raised being discussed.
One way that electors can impose their views on a Town or Parish Council is through a Parish Poll.
answered by (4.5k points)
You're quite right to point out that conflict may arise. However, the conveners of the meeting are entitled to set the agenda, so it should not be possible for the chair to prevent discussion of the matters raised by the six electors. The chair of the parish council must preside if present, and if not, the vice-chair must preside if present. A poll is indeed a possibility, although it has a cost and so far as I know the result is still not binding on the parish council.
The Local Govt act 1972 states (1)The parish meeting of a parish shall assemble annually on some day between 1st March and 1st June, both inclusive, in every year. So if the town or parish council schedule s one well in advance, and the council chair convenes it, he or she sets the agenda via the clerk. Potentially he or she could refuse to put an elector issue on it.
This raises an interesting question. If six electors convene a parish meeting before the parish council get round to it, could the council over ride it on the basis of they would have " got round to doing it". Is the scheduling of a Parish meeting open to whoever tries to do it first?
No. There is a clear statutory right for six electors to demand a parish meeting and to state the matters to be discussed. Such a meeting is additional to the annual parish meeting.
I believed this to be the case too, but when I did some checking, I wasn't 100% convinced.  Electors can demand a Parish Meeting but what  if one has already taken place between 1st March and 1st June, convened by a Town/Parish Council? I  can't find anything that clearly stipulates an additional Parish Meeting can be convened.  If you can provide evidence Counterpoint, please do!
Parish meetings have their rules set out in the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12 para 14. I just don't see anything that places any limit on parish meetings. So far  as I can see, a parish can hold a parish meeting every week if it chooses. Is there a reason for thinking otherwise?
"14(1)The parish meeting of a parish shall assemble annually on some day between 1st March and 1st June, both inclusive, in every year.".   Note that it says "The" In the singular as opposed to "A parish meeting" and it also specifies a time frame.  That is my reason for thinking otherwise. I welcome any actual instances of actual Parish meetings held outside the time frame, or minutes of more than one in the same calendar year. I would be happy to be proved wrong.
You are reading too much into a single phrase. "The parish meeting" simply identifies the type of meeting that is being referred to. The parish meeting may assemble at other times if convened by any of the people stipulated as being capable of doing so, including six electors. It would be ridiculous for there to be a race to determine who had convened the one and only parish meeting of the year. I have attended an extra town (parish) meeting called in September 2010 to discuss a contentious issue. You can find plenty of records of other extraordinary parish meetings by searching, such as http://www.sherington.org.uk/extraordinary.htm or https://www.richmondshire.gov.uk/media/5743/dalton-on-tees-pc_agenda_extraordinary_6-november-2017.pdf. They are a bit difficult to find because they are greatly outnumbered by extraordinary meetings of parish councils. Generally, extra meetings only occur when there is a major issue. Note that the advice at http://askyourcouncil.uk/understanding-your-council/parish-meetings-and-parish-polls/ makes it clear that electors can make all the arrangements for a meeting if the clerk refuses. I can't find any mention of a request for a parish meeting being rejected.

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