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Asking the Parish Council a question

0 votes
At the beginning of each parish meeting there has previously been an open forum for residents to ask the parish Council questions.
The parish Council have now put on their website procedures whereby a resident may only ask up to 6 questions a year, it must be in writing and submitted 3 days before a parish meeting and the councillors can choose not to answer.
Can they do this? It seems like a licence to do whatever they want with no regard or reference to the residents of the parish.
asked by (170 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
It is within the typical standing orders, to request the question in advance (partially so you can get an answer that evening), however limiting how many questions you can ask is certainly not permitted.

Most smaller parishes will typically have an 'open question time's format.

Councillors don't have to answer a question - there might not be an answer, however it does seem over judicious to state that up front.
answered by (7.3k points)
Thanks for the response.
It is odd that they have added the following procedures to what used to be an informal open forum for our small parish.
It just doesn't sit right. Please see below
To ensure that the system is not misused or abused, and to comply with legal limitations on
information which the council may divulge, the following rules shall apply:
1. Questions or statements relating to any item on the agenda for that Council meeting
are not permitted.
2. An individual cannot ask questions or make statements more than six times per year.
3. No more than six questions or statements on the same subject per year are allowed.
4. The same question or statement cannot be asked or made more than once.
5. Questions or statements on matters which are exempt or confidential under the 1985
Access to Information Act are not permitted.
6. Questions or statements which are defamatory, frivolous or offensive are not allowed.
7. Questions and statements must be submitted in writing (emails are accepted) to the
Parish Clerk three clear working days before the Council meeting (excluding the day
of the meeting) at the latest, i.e. normally by the end of Wednesday for a meeting on
the following Tuesday.
Sounds like your council has been receiving vexatious requests for information that you might not be aware of?
Just to add that parish council meetings are meetings held in public and not public meetings - there is a subtle but important difference.  The council doesn't have to answer questions and can limit the time given to the public session and there is no right of the public to be able to speak, they do so by invitation.
"Questions or statements on matters which are exempt or confidential under the 1985
Access to Information Act are not permitted."    Well  why are they citing old legislation that may well in part have been superseded by the The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014?. The Open and accountable local government guide for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government states that confidential information and publicity prejudicial to the public interest normally cover matters such as discussing the conduct of employees, negotiations of contracts or terms of tender, or the early stages of a legal dispute. It also outlines what is regarded as exempt information.  SO th Parish Council should really cite this rather than the 1985 Act.
0 votes
Fine!  If they are going to be obstructive, ask for the information by the FOI act 2000 .  If you don't get it ask for an Internal Review.  And if they don't agree to hold one or the Review still says NO send a complaint to the Information Commissioner. Consider using they What do they Know website for the FOI's.
answered by (16.4k points)

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