The parish council represents the interests of the whole of the community in the Ludgvan parish.
Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, usually at the Murley Hall, Ludgvan churchtown, starting at 6.45pm. Meetings are open to the public to attend, and there is a public participation section near the beginning of each meeting.
Ludgvan Parish Council consists of 12 councillors. Parish councillors attend the monthly council meetings. When councillors vote at the meetings, council decisions are made, with these decisions recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Councillors need to be aware of a range of matters affecting life and work in the parish, in order to be able to make effective decisions. Training is available to all councillors. Parish councillors are unpaid volunteers.
The whole parish council is put up for election every 4 years. Councillors may be elected to the council at these elections, or at a by-election if a vacancy arises during the 4-year term. Vacancies may also be filled by co-option of Councillors.
A Councillor resigns in writing to the Chair and the Chair resigns in writing to the Council. A verbal resignation is not legal. The vacancy is formally declared and starts when the resignation is received. If it is over 6 months before the next election, the vacancy must be filled. The Council must give the electorate an opportunity to nominate Councillors. If ten electors notify the returning officer within fourteen days that they want an election, there must be an election. If there is no request for an election, then (and only then) a new Councillor can be co-opted. If there are fewer candidates than vacant positions, either at election time or after a casual vacancy, then the Council must notify Cornwall Council and co-opt someone to fill the remaining vacancies. The Clerk advertises the intention to co-opt and the decision to co-opt is made at a Council meeting.
Councillors must make a formal declaration accepting the Office of Councillor at (or before) the first meeting after an election (normally the Annual Meeting) or at a Councillors first meeting. The Chair makes a separate declaration to accept the office of Chairman every year – but a declaration is not required from the Vice-Chair. The Councillors declarations must also be countersigned, usually by the Clerk.
Councillors must make a written undertaking to observe the Council’s Code of Conduct. This normally accompanies the declaration of acceptance of office. Co-opted Councillors may not act as Councillors until they have made the written undertaking. The declaration and agreement should be an item on the appropriate agenda. If Councillors fail to declare their acceptance of office or to sign up to the Code within the time limit, in law, they are not Councillors.
Councillors are disqualified from office if they do not attend at least one meeting of the council during a period of six consecutive months – all meetings count including sub committees, working groups, site meetings and meetings where that Councillor represents the Council. If there are extenuating circumstances (eg long term illness) then the council can make a resolution to prevent disqualification after six months, and this resolution must be made before the six month disqualification time period has been breached.
Councillors are also disqualified if they are declared bankrupt if they have been convicted in the last five years or if they have engaged in corrupt or illegal activity. In these instances, the Clerk would seek advice from the Monitoring Officer.
Chair of the parish council
In law the council must appoint a Chairman – this is the first business of the May meeting each year, the council’s Annual Meeting.
The Chair should be consulted on the content of the agenda of council meetings, but as the legal signatory, the Clerk has the final say. The Chair works in partnership with the Clerk to make sure that the Council is properly informed for making lawful decisions during meetings.
The Chair is responsible for involving all Councillors in discussion and ensuring that Councillors keep to the point. The Chair summarises the debate and facilitates the resolving of clear decisions. It is the Chair’s responsibility to keep discussions moving so that the meeting is not too long.
The Chair has a casting vote. Their first vote is a vote made as an ordinary Councillor. If there is a tied vote, the Chair of the meeting can have a second, or casting, vote.
The Chair is often the public face of the Council, and often speaks on behalf of the Council, but must remember to express the views of the Council and not personal views. If in doubt the Chair refers to points agreed in the Council minutes. The Clerk should be able to give the Chairman clear guidance on the Councils corporate view.
The parish council employs a Parish Clerk and she/he is the Proper Officer and Responsible Finance Officer (RFO) of the Council. As such the Clerk is under a statutory duty to carry out all the functions, and in particular to serve or issue all the notifications required by law of a local authority’s Proper Officer. The Clerk is responsible for ensuring that the instructions of the Council are carried out. The Clerk advises the Council on, and assists in the formation of, overall policies to be followed in respect of the Council’s activities, and produces information required for making effective decisions. The Clerk is accountable to the Council for the effective management of all its resources and will report to it as and when required, and is responsible for all financial records of the Council and the administration of its finances.
The Clerk is employed by the Council to provide administrative support and professional advice for the councils activities. The Clerk is not answerable to any individual Councillor. The role of the Clerk is to take instructions from the Council as a corporate body. The Clerk must be objective in responding to the interaction between Councillors and should not favour one Councillor or group of Councillors over another.
As Responsible Finance Officer, the Clerk makes sure that the Council complies with the Account and Audit Regulations and is responsible for preparing the Councils accounts for audit. The RFO sets up and enforces proper financial controls designed to prevent and detect fraud and to tackle bad debts.