Our Annual Parish Meeting is held in May, in Dorney School in Dorney Reach.
This is, in legal terms, a quite separate body from the Parish Council, but it is the Parish Council Chairman who convenes the meeting. Its purpose is to bring the community together to provide an annual account of what has been happening in the community and the Parish Council and a wise Council will normally want to take heed of what is said at the meeting.
The Local Government Act states that every parish must hold an Annual Parish Meeting a year. This meeting must be held between 1st March and 1st June and proceedings must not begin before 6pm.
If there is a Parish Council the Chairman of the Parish Council (or Vice-Chair if the Chairman is unable to attend) must preside.
The Agenda is a standard agenda, to give reports on the business of the last 12 months. The Parish Council reports to its electorate on its activities over the last year and there are usually reports from County Councillors and perhaps from any voluntary or local community groups.
It is also an opportunity for parishioners to question people and organisations on any issues relating to the village.
As the Annual Parish Meeting is not a parish council meeting it is not conducted in the same way or governed by the same rules as a parish council meeting. Members of the public are permitted to make statements on relevant matters during the meeting. Any resolutions passed do not bind the Parish Council.
The Annual Parish Meeting is a legacy from the Middle Ages, when Local Councils did not exist, and all local decision making was carried out by meetings of the whole community, taking place in the church vestry.
The Annual Parish Meeting is open to all electors of Dorney 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.
This meeting of all the electors is sometimes called locally “the Annual General Meeting” but this causes confusion with the Annual Meeting of the Council. Some communities refer to it as the “local assembly” or by other titles. Dorney Parish Council will refer to this meeting of all the electors as the Annual Parish Meeting.
This meeting has its own minutes, which are kept separately from the 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. It is however, good practice to bring the draft minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting to the next convenient meeting of the Parish Council, since otherwise matters are unlikely to get progressed. But it is important that the Council does not actually approve these minutes, as they do not belong to the Council.