Annual Parish Meeting
The Annual Parish Meeting must be held each year between March 1st and June 1st:
- This is, in legal terms, a quite separate body from the Parish Council, but it is invariably the Parish Council that arranges it (simply because it is unlikely that anyone else will do so). Its decisions are not binding on the council, though a wise Parish Council will normally want to take heed of what is said at the meeting.
- It may help to remember the difference between the two meetings as the Annual Parish Meeting is a legacy from the Middle Ages, when local Parish Councils did not exist, and all local decision making was carried out by meetings of the whole community, taking place in any available large building eg the church vestry. Note that neither the Annual Parish Council meeting nor the Annual Parish Meeting have anything to do with the parochial church council which is related to the administration of a church parish.
- The Annual Parish Meeting is open to all electors of Downton Parish, who have the right not only to attend but also to speak on any matter of local interest. This is in contrast to a Parish Council meeting, where electors who are not Councillors have no automatic right to speak (although Downton parish council does have a set time before any Parish Council meeting when electors can raise matters of concern to them).
- This meeting has its own minutes, which should be kept separately from the Parish Council minutes, and these minutes can only be approved by the next Annual Parish Meeting which will, of course, not be held until the following year.
The Annual Parish Meeting is usually held in the Memorial Hall in April. A speaker is usually invited to speak on a subject of current interest to the village. Because this is a meeting of a body separate from the Parish Council (see above) the date is not affected by the Parish Council election cycle, though practical considerations may mean that it is arranged on a different date in an election year.