The following may sound a bit boring and long-winded but it is important that everyone is aware of what is and isn't happening.
Redlingfield's Parish Council is a "Parish Meeting" with one open public meeting a year.
Parish Meetings are required by law to hold an Annual General Meeting in May each year - at which the Parish Chairman is elected. Here in Redlingfield we also elect a Treasurer & Parish Clerk and the Village Committee - a group of up to 20 volunteers who help organise events and activities in the village each year. As a Parish we don't raise a rate - so this is how we fund things.
Our Annual General Meeting is due to take place on Wednesday 20th May 2020 at Horham Community Centre.
An Annual General Meeting requires electors/residents to be present in person to vote on these matters and anything else that is of concern as well as ask any questions they like of the Chairman etc.
Parishes are also required to organise annual audits and present the results by September at the latest. Emergency provision has been made by Parliament that now allows these audits etc to take place later in the year and be ready by the end of November.
You may have heard that the Government was making provision for parishes to hold "virtual meetings".
The legislation to allow these virtual meetings was recently rushed through Parliament. It gets rid of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2020 - allowing any current appointments to stand for up to a further year, until May 2021 (eg keeping the existing Chairman in post until such time as a meeting can be arranged or an AGM in May 2021) and allows Parish Councils to hold virtual meetings (by whatever technical means they prefer).
However - somehow the legislation forgot to include Parish Meetings (such as ourselves). One of the problems that can occur when new rules are drawn up quickly.
So we are in a bit of a legal limbo. We are required by law to all meet together in May 2020 to elect officers (Chairman, Treasurer & Clerk), however we can't hold a physical AGM because of the need to remain at home or in isolation due to the Coronavirus and the new law doesn't allow us to hold a "virtual" meeting.
The good news is that whatever we decide we (Chairman & Parish Clerk) are unlikely to be prosecuted - as there are hundreds of Parish Meetings across England in the same situation.
Having consulted our Parish Chairman - we have decided that we will postpone our Annual General Meeting until sometime in the Autumn (the actual date to be decided once we know what is happening with the Coronavirus and social distancing/isolation).
In the meantime, all the people elected or appointed at the last AGM in May 2019 remain in post -
Current Officers: Chairman Mike Ager, Clerk Janet Norman-Philips, Treasurer Jeanette Brierley
Current Village Committee Members: Andrew Abbott, Graham Abbott, Katie Abbott, Mike Ager, Jeanette Brierley, Susan Chapman, Allan Chapman, Will Edwards, Lesley & Tony Rose-Freitas, Emma Hewitt, Pat Kelly, Manday Miller, Adrian Smith and Janet Norman-Philips
Our Treasurer Jeanette Brierley - was planning to stand down at the AGM this year, having had the role for a number of years, to allow someone else to take over to manage the accounts. So we are still looking for a new treasurer (preferably an accountant or accounting technician or someone with appropriate experience) - our accounts aren't complex but they do have to be right. So if anyone feels like taking over please let me know.
Some information about "Parish Meetings"
More information is on our website: http://redlingfield.onesuffolk.net/home/parish-council/
Parish Meetings are a statutory part of Local Government - they exist in smaller villages (normally a population less than 500). Parish Meetings conduct their main business at the AGM each year by electing (via a show of hands) the Chairman for the next 12 months - who is then responsible for delivering the aims agreed at the AGM - other meetings can be called during the year as needed to discuss important matters. Anybody and everybody can attend an AGM and ask questions or raise concerns or make proposals for things we should (or shouldn't) be doing.
In Redlingfield we have a local rule that the Chairman can only be elected for three years in a row and then has to stand aside for someone else to take over and be put forward for the role - Mike Ager is the current Chairman and has now completed two terms (elected in May 2018 and May 2019) so was intending to stand for election again in May 2020 to complete his three year term. The village tends to come to a consensus as to who they would like to see as the next Chairman and that person is then encouraged to put themselves forward.
We will do a physical newsletter for residents without email to let them know the AGM is cancelled.
Cheers and stay safe