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Chair and Vice

0 votes
I have two questions for you.   I hope I can explain both scenarios -

I observed a meeting last night (not our Parish),  when both the Chair and Vice chair had resigned prior to the meeting.  There were only 4 councillors (there are only 4 now) at the meeting but enough for the meeting to continue; plus 6 members of the public (meeting was virtual)   The meeting was 'abandoned' due to the fact they could not agree a chairperson to preside for the meeting that evening..... 2 people wanting to be chair etc....
My question is what happens at that situation ?

Secondly if they had identified a chairperson to preside that evenings meeting, could they then have elected a 'substantive chair person' if though it was not on their agenda for that meeting?

2nd scenerio

A chairperson has resigned from the Parish and at the meeting a 'chairperson' was asked to preside for that meeting  The vice is on secondment.

We have been advised we should  wait for the Vice to return from his secondment in end  January to elect our new chair? We are not happy about this and would like to elect a chair prior to this.  Its clear to us that the vice chair wants to be at the meeting so he can put himself forward to be chair.  Preside the meeting so have the extra vote to vote himself in.  This stinks to me......We do have a person who would make an excellent chairperson, works hard, brilliant with the community etc etc.      I am going to ask that this item is placed on the agenda for our December meeting, can the clerk refuse to add it to the agenda.  Second part of my question, without a chair or vice at the moment, who actually can make decisions.   In the past, in between meetings the chair is contacted and he makes the decisions.  I thought the role of the chair was to chair meetings and has no extra powers.

I be grateful to your advice

Thank you
asked by (480 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
As I see it
first scenario:

As a replacement chair is not agreed then quite rightly the meeting is abandoned and election of the chair to replace the resignation is on the agenda for the next meeting.
Second scenario: At the next meeting with the return of the vice chair the meeting can proceed under their chairmanship (after all that is the vice chairs job). Should an election for chair be required then it can be postponed until the next meeting. If  This will give councillors the opportunity to assess the vice chairs chairing abilities without the pre-assumption of a desire to manipulate the democratic election of the chair.. It will also allow for the co-option process to advance to fill the councillor vacancy.

It may well be that the council continue under the vice chair's tenure until the annual PC meeting at which a new chair can be elected.

You are quite correct in that the chair has no other powers than any other councillor than the chairing of council meetings.
answered by (6.6k points)
0 votes
Scenario One - the meeting should not have been abandoned for something as petty as this. Any member may preside and this could have been decided by drawing names out of a hat if necessary. A council without an elected chair may resolve to give any one member the power to fulfil the very limited powers and privileges of the role until an election takes place. These powers cannot be delegated to the Clerk.

Scenario Two - you cannot delay the election of a Chair. Section 88 specifies:

"On a casual vacancy occurring in the office of chairman of any council, an election to fill the vacancy shall be held not later than the next ordinary meeting of the council held after the date on which the vacancy occurs."

This must be the first item on the agenda of your December meeting. The vice chair can be elected in his absence, in which case you should also resolve to allow him to sign the declaration of acceptance within a specified timescale after the meeting. This will be necessary for all candidates if you're meeting virtually.

You are correct that the Chair has virtually no powers. If you read your standing orders and financial regulations carefully, you should find a couple of references to emergency actions, but that is all. There can be no delegated authority to act as an individual without the mandate from the council.
answered by (26.3k points)
Trust me S1, the clerk who was a stand in clerk as the clerk had resigned to..... and District councillor tried their very best to move things along.  The councillors were adamant. Stand off for nearly 20 mins.  Awful.... Now this morning I hear another councillor has resigned.   Dreadful for their village.  I feel for their parish.  Thanks for your  advice on both Ann
With regard to our standing orders.... they are so out of date.  I am working with a few other councillors to sort this issue, along with Financial Regs and our polices and procedures.   Thanks
This sort of thing is far too common on parish councils. They're still unregulated fiefdoms. Another one down, leaving 3. Is that still quorate?

As long as the council is a member of its local association, they will have access to the latest model standing orders and financial regulations from the NALC website. Adopting them is a good step, but that's the easy bit. Persuading members to read and understand the rules, then abide by them in their day-to-day operations is like trying to unseat American Presidents who have just lost an election!
Not now... another one has resigned.  Leaving 2.   When there was three and it was suggested that one of our district councillors chair the meeting for a few months until this settled down.  This I believe was the monitoring officers suggestion.  This can not happen now as there is not enough councillors to hold a meeting.  I have no idea what they will do now.
I have downloaded them... and completed the amendments from our old standing orders and updated where needed.  Its so easy. I have done similar with Financial...... its a painful process and a long story!
Great to have this site   Thank you
Assuming they have a vacancy that is more than 3 weeks old (14 working days after date of notice of vacancy), the final two members must agree between them who will chair the next meeting and find somebody willing to be co-opted, even if only for a short time. The co-option must be the first item on the agenda. Once a third councillor has been co-opted and signed their declaration of acceptance of office, the council may continue to conduct its normal business.

If this proves impossible, the remaining members should ask the district council to use its powers to appoint councillors.

Either way, time is of the essence, as we're into budget season and precept setting, which require valid resolutions of the council.

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