Tuesday, May 10, 2005

When shall we three meet again?

A number of Town Councillors joined our town Clerk for a Training day held recently at nearby Caphouse Colliery, a cross between a museum and a theme park.

The event wasn't in the workings, it was in the modern Caphouse Suite which is clean, modern and well equipped, the antithesis of every real pit I've ever visited.

The trip to the museum isn't far from Morley, and it passes through Horbury Bridge which proclaims itself as the birthplace of Onward Christian Soldiers, written (in haste) by the Rev. sabine Baring-Gould (who was the Curate), for the Whit Sunday procession up Quarry Hill to the church at St Peter's, Horbury.

The training event was an interesting and varied day, although something emerged that caught us unawares. It seems that every Parish must hold at least an annual Parish meeting (more if there isn't a Parish Council) and invite the whole of the Parish to attend. In the event of having a Town Council, it is known as a Town's Meeting.

It is a requirement of the Local Government Act 1972 s9(1), but it seems many Parishes don't actually do this. As the law says it has to be held no earlier than 6pm in the evening and before June 1st each year, it seems we will be holding a meeting on Thursday May 26th at 7pm, somewhere in the Town Hall. My guess is the Morleian Hall which could hold 100 or so comfortably, the Council Chamber struggles with more than fifty although the Alexandra Hall can cope with several hundred.

The problem is, who is likely to turn up? What will be put on the Agenda? What will we talk about? We know that the Town Council Chairman (the Town mayor) is expected to Chair the meeting and the quorum is only two members (three for the execution of documents). It can discuss any affairs of a Parochial nature but they may not necessarily be binding on the Council.

If there has to be a meeting, how can it be of use to the people of Morley?

I think it would be a good opportunity to present the annual report, discuss the contents and take contents of a general nature. Is the Town Council achieving its purpose? Is it good value for money? What services should it look to take on with quality Council Status?

In practice, however, I suspect that in 2005, it will be poorly prepared for and poorly attended, as let's face it, we didn't know we were having one a few weeks back so it doesn't align with our timetable. We only have to give seven days notice which is hardly going to make people beat a path to our door.

However, it will be a very useful opportunity for 2006.

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