Unlike most town and village communities in the UK, Berwick St James does not have a Parish Council, but instead has a much simpler and more inclusive form of governance called a Parish Meeting. With only about 160 residents in this Parish, there are four elected officers who help to look after the affairs of the village and parish, and their positions come up for election on an annual basis. Although there is a minimum requirement to hold one Parish Meeting annually, we generally hold four, sometimes more if planning applications have to be considered.
We try to make the Parish (or Village) Meetings enjoyable as well as informative events, where topics are discussed among the residents and issues resolved. These meetings are held in the village hall, called The Reading Room, and everyone from the village is welcome and encouraged to attend. They last no longer than one and a half hours and there is always a free glass of wine or two or soft drinks available at the end. Below is a simple guide to Parish Meetings which explains the differences between what we have and the more widespread Parish Councils.
We believe the system does work and works well. For those who are interested in greater detail, the various rules and regulations governing Parish Meetings are attached above.
Christian Lange & Sarah Humphreys
Co-Chairs Berwick St James Parish Meetings
A Simple Guide to Parish Meetings
Parish Meetings are quite distinct from meetings of the Parish Council, although the two are often confused.
Some of the differences are as follows.
- Any person on the Electoral Register of the Parish is entitled to speak at a Parish Meeting, at a meeting of the Parish Council members of the Public may speak only at the Chairman’s discretion.
- With the exception of the Chairman, Councillors rank the same as other members of the Electorate.
- Agendas for Parish Council meetings must be published three days ahead of the meeting, for Parish Meetings a skeleton Agenda is usually published ahead of the meeting, but often items are added up to and even during the meeting.
- Only Councillors may request items to be placed on the Agenda of a Parish Council Meeting whereas any member of the Electorate may do so at a Parish Meeting.
- Any matter pertinent to the parish may be discussed at a Parish Meeting, whereas at a Parish Council meeting subjects for discussion should be limited to those matter on which the Council has the power to act (conferred by various Acts of Parliament).
- The Press and general public have a right to attend Parish Meetings, but anyone not on the Electoral Register of the Parish is a “stranger” and does not have the right to vote.
In a summary:
A Parish Meeting is a meeting of the people of the parish.
A Parish Council Meeting is a meeting of the Parish Councillors.