The attendees at the informal meetings are usually to just update on minor maintenance issues, ie resident reports of moss from pavements, minor footpath issues roundabouts repairs etc, etc. which is conveyed at the public meetings as is necessary. This is a regular monthly slot for one or two Council Officers and it would be unfair to ask them to attend a monthly meeting just to convey that information. They are shared neighbourhood cordinators, shared with several other Parishes if they were to attend the public meetings for every parish it would create an unreasonable and unnecessary 'out of social hours' workload for them. It has worked very well indeed for us and neighbouring parishes for many years so no need to worry about it.
Re the consultee process we are aware of the limitations of a parish council as consultee but a responsible parish council should really consider what if any impact a proposal may have on their community. Whether it be a proposed build/alteration, tree felling or just a crown lift or reduction. With their localised knowledge they can often assist the primary planning officer, or the Tree Officer by providing their views based on historic local knowledge along with the other council consultees. Again this is something that has worked very well for both us and the borough council for many years. One example: A recent small semi-rural development proposed a dainage scheme which complied with planning law. However having pre-meeting knowledge of that proposal allowed fuller consideration of the plans and in particular the drainage and it was able to be shown that the proposed rural surface discharge was likely to have a negative effect on a locally known flood point some distance away from the actual development and with the help of residents we were able to produce photographs to support this. A further survey was then carried out which supported the local knowledge and the drainage scheme was substantially changed.