Whether you are a regular at our Parish Council meeting or a newcomer, its important to know what happens at these official events and what to expect as a member of public joining the session. With Covid restrictions in place our meetings are currently occurring over Zoom, online. This new medium offers unique challenges we didn't encounter when we could meet in the hall face to face. Zoom etiquette will also be covered in this post.
To join the Zoom meeting open the Meetings and Events page on the Parish Council website, found under the Home heading in the menu bar. You'll find a link to follow for the Zoom call and also a link to the meeting pack, which will contains all the documentation relevant to agenda items.
As a member of the public, after joining the Zoom call, you will be held in a waiting room until the chair of the meeting grants access. Be patient, there can be delays in starting the meeting, once resolved you will be allowed in.
The Parish Council meeting is an official meeting the format of which may seem rather rigid to anyone expecting the discussion to be a two way open debate.
Provision for members of the public to speak is made at the head of the meeting, typically on topics relating to the agenda items. Once the public speaking segment is closed, members of the public should only speak if requested to, for instance explaining detail from their point of view during a particular agenda item.
Zoom online meetings give the chair the ability to mute attendees until they are required to speak, but out of courtesy all those joining the meeting should remain on mute until required to speak.
Every meeting has a section where Cllrs declare any change in Cllrs interests. You'll find declarations of interests on the website in the documentation section.
Next you'll see various reports, Clerk, Finance etc and a Payments Schedule. These are standard agenda items each month.
Following these standard agenda items and changing every month, are agenda items raised by Cllrs for discussion. Any Cllr can propose an agenda item for discussion, typically on a subject they feel is important or a project they wish to provide an update upon; It could be a new endeavour to improve the community or something they are championing on behalf of parishioners.
Its important to stress parishioners cannot directly submit agenda items, nor can additional items be added during the meeting. If there are issues you wish to raise with Cllrs the website will provide the means to do so very shortly and each Cllr will have a specific parish council email address. Speak to a Cllr, explain your issue and on your behalf they can raise agenda items.
The Council regularly receives correspondence from parishioners, other authority bodies, charities and 3rd parties. These documents are often discussed next.
Currently as a final agenda item, we highlight any risks to the community.
Note: Often we run out of time on our Zoom call, if this happens the chair will announce an end to the current session, we log out and back in and the timer resets.