Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a chairman preside at his/her own election?

A: Yes. A 'retiring' chairman must preside if present (even if they are no longer a councillor following an ordinary election), can nominate her/himself, vote for her/himself, and use her/his casting vote in their own favour.

Q: Does a parish council need to have a vice-chairman?

A: No; there is no necessity to have a vice chairman, though many larger councils choose to do so.

Q: How soon must a casual vacancy on the council be advertised?

A: Immediately, or as soon as practicable. Remember to contact your elections office to notify the vacancy has been correctly advertised.

Q: Can a Councillor do the Clerks job?

A: Yes, but without remuneration. Council should first resolve that the position of Clerk be unpaid.

Q: How do we acquire the General Power of Competence?

A: Further to the Localism Act 2011 an eligible local council can acquire the general power of competence (GPC) which is a power to do anything an individual can generally do within the law. To acquire the GPC a local council must have a qualified clerk (e.g. one holding the Certificate in Local Council Administration including the module on GPC) and at least two thirds of councillors must have been elected at an ordinary election or by-election. Members wishing to know more about acquiring or using GPC should contact CAPALC for detailed advice.

Q: How many people are needed to call for a referendum at a parish meeting?

Under the Local Government Act of 1972, any six local government electors or the chairman of the local council can call a public meeting to discuss the single matter of a poll or can request the matter to be placed on the agenda of the next council meeting.

Q: What powers can a parish council delegate to a committee?

A: A parish council may arrange to discharge any of its functions through a committee of the council (Local Government Act 1972, s.101), other than those of issuing a precept for a rate, borrowing money, and the approval of a lottery.

Q: Can complaints about parish councils be made to the Local Government Ombudsman?

A: No. An aggrieved parishioner should request a copy of the council's complaints policy and follow its procedures. The final form of redress is by way of judicial review.

Q: How does a parish council become a town council?

A: By resolution of the council under LGA 1972 S245 (6). There is no necessity of approval by any outside authority.

Q: Can clerks claim for any expenses because they work from home?

A: A local council can certainly pay the legitimate expenses of its officers. This right is expressly affirmed by the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963, s.5. A council may thus pay a contribution towards expenses incurred by the clerk because the person holds the post of clerk, including, for example, a contribution towards expenditure on a residence because it is used as the councils office.

Canal boat