The Parish Assembly is held once a year between 1st March and 1st June. It is not a Parish Council meeting, but instead is called by the Chair of the Parish Council. It is a meeting of all the local government electors for the Parish, which the public can participate in. Anyone may attend but only registered electors of the Parish may speak and vote. Normally the quorum to run the meeting is 2.
The purpose of the meeting is so that the Parish Council can highlight its achievements over the last year and future aspirations. This is also an opportunity to enable the electors to have their say on anything they consider is important to the people of the Parish. One of the main objectives is to achieve a large turnout as it is an opportunity to hear from representatives of the community and there is a chance to promote some new ideas. In order to achieve a high attendance, a speaker on a topic of interest can be organised and the event publicised. At least seven clear days must be given and a notice and agenda should be displayed.
CONDUCT OF THE MEETING
There should be an opportunity for the public and press to express their opinions on what the Council are doing during the meeting. Many town and parish councils make this meeting a community event by providing refreshments, presentations from community groups and providing an informal atmosphere. The Chair of the Parish Council will chair the meeting. If the Chair is not able to attend, then the Vice Chair of the Parish will conduct the meeting.
CALLING THE MEETING
The Annual Parish Meeting is usually called by the Chair of the Parish Council. However any parish meeting may be called by:
The Chair of the Parish Council,
Any 2 Councillors from the parish,
Any 6 registered electors from the parish
Initially voting on a question is done by a majority of those present at the meeting and the decision of the person chairing the meeting as to the decision is final unless a poll is demanded. No votes taken at this meeting are binding on the parish council although they should consider them at the next meeting of the parish council. Only members on the electoral roll can vote on an issue. Other members of the public can attend and express their opinions but not vote.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q) Will I be able to ask questions and make suggestions?
A) Yes, any registered elector may ask questions of the Council, which will usually be answered by the Chair, the Clerk to the Council, or a designated Councillor. An elector may also make suggestions and comment on anything pertinent to the people of Bishopstoke Parish, this is the whole purpose of the meeting.
Q) Will Parish Councillors be there?
A) Although it is not mandatory for the Councillors to attend they would usually attend and will speak if need be. However, the purpose of the meeting is to enable the residents to have their say. Councillors will listen with interest and if they are residents themselves will have the opportunity to raise questions and make comments if they wish.
Q) Will notes be taken of the meeting?
A) Yes, a written record of the meeting will be taken and any comments made by the residents will be presented at a future meeting of Council for consideration.
Q) What happens at the meeting?
A) The first part of the formal meeting with speeches and presentations can last up to about one hour depending on those present, the number of questions raised and the discussion that follows. After the formal session the meeting is open to groups such as to local clubs, societies and other voluntary and statutory organisations to provide an exhibition and/or a representative to speak about the work of their group.