Parish Councils have been around since 1894 when they were set up by Act of Parliament, but their origins go back to the Middle Ages. Its main governing principles are set out in the Local Government Act 1972 & in particular in Schedule 12 of that Act. This Act sets out some of the minimum requirements for Councils in relation to meetings, conduct & documentation, such as:-
- Councils must meet a minimum of 4 times/year
- They must keep minutes of their meetings
- They must elect a Chairman from among their number
- They must have their accounts audited in accordance with this & subsequent legislation
- Meetings must be publicly advertised in advance within the area served by the Council
- Councillors must, on taking office, sign a Declaration saying that they agree to be bound by a new Code of Conduct. This code came into effect in May 2002, & covers matters such as the declaring of interests, standards & ethics.
Local Council meetings must be open to the Press & Public, but meetings can be closed to both if in the Councils opinion ‘publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest’.