Under the 1972 Local Government Act, parish councils have the power to organise their own affairs. If they do so, then they must document how they wish to organise parish council business, especially how meetings are to be run in order to ensure orderly and balanced debate. This document, known as Standing Orders, is as follows:
1. Powers and Duties of the Chairman
The person presiding at a meeting may exercise all the powers and duties of the Chairman in relation to the conduct of the meeting.
2. Proper Officer
The Clerk is the Proper Officer of the Council. The Clerk is also the Responsible Financial Officer of the Council. Other duties and responsibilities of the Clerk are as laid down in the Conditions of Service Contract and Job Description.
Notwithstanding those duties and responsibilities, it shall be the duty of the Clerk to advise Members on the content and interpretation of these Standing Orders.
Three Members shall constitute a quorum. If a quorum is not present when the Council meets or if during a meeting the number of Members, for whatever reason, falls below the quorum, the business not transacted at that meeting shall be transacted at the next meeting or on such other day as the Chairman may decide.
Members shall vote by show of hands unless the meeting decides otherwise.
If the meeting so requires, the Clerk shall record the names of the Members who voted on any question and how they voted.
The Chairman may give an original vote on any matter put to the vote and, in the case of equality of votes, may give a casting vote, whether or not an original vote was given.
5. Order of Business
The order of business shall be stated on an agenda paper which shall be delivered to each Member at least three clear days prior to the date of the meeting along with the summons convening the meeting.
6. Resolutions Moved on Notice
Except as provided by these Standing Orders, no resolution may be moved unless the business to which it relates has been included on the Agenda, or which the chairman of the meeting approves.
Members may put an item or notice of resolution on the Agenda by giving the Clerk written notice of the item or resolution at least seven clear days prior to the meeting to which that agenda relates.
Every resolution, amendment or recommendation shall be relevant to some subject over which the Council has the power or which affects its area.
7. Resolutions Moved Without Notice
Resolutions on procedural matters may be moved without notice including those to vary the order of business on grounds of urgency or procedural efficiency. Such resolutions shall be put to the vote without discussion.
8. Rules of Debate
All remarks shall be addressed to the Chairman. No discussion shall take place on the minutes of previous meetings except upon their accuracy. Corrections to the minutes shall be made by resolution agreed by all members.
The ruling of the Chairman on a point of order or on the admissibility of an item shall not be discussed.
A representative of the local Constabulary and District and County Council members shall be allowed to speak at Council meetings at the discretion of the Chairman.
A motion of closure of a debate may be moved at any time but must be proposed and seconded without comment. The Chairman may refuse such motion if he feels that the question before the Council has not been sufficiently debated.
10. Rescission of Previous Resolutions
A decision of the Council (whether affirmative or negative) shall not be reversed within six months except by a special resolution, the written notice of which bears the names of at least three Members of the Council. When such a resolution has been disposed of, no similar resolution may be moved within a further six months.
11. Confidential Business
No Member of the Council shall disclose to any person, not being a Member of the Council, any business declared to be confidential by the Council.
12. District and County Councillors
District and County Councillors who are not also Parish Councillors shall be invited to attend meetings and shall be sent copies of agendas, minutes and other relevant documentation. They may be allowed to speak at the discretion of the Chairman.
13. Length of Meetings
Except at the discretion of the Chairman, all meetings of the Council shall finish not later than two hours after commencement. Any business not transacted shall be carried over to the next meeting or such other date as the Chairman may decide.
14. Suspension of Standing Orders
These Standing Orders may be suspended at any time and for any period of time by resolution.
Smoking shall not be permitted during meetings.
16. Standing Orders to be Given to Members
A copy of these Standing Orders shall be given to all Members.
In these Standing Orders words importing one gender shall include all genders and the singular includes the plural and vice versa. Any item not covered shall be deemed to be governed by the current Standing Orders for Meetings produced by the National Association of Local Councils.