Attendance at Parish councils

District councillors normally attend Parish council meetings, though they are not required to. Ours is a large district ward covering 8 parishes, meetings often clash. To spread the workload in larger wards there are more councillors. We have 3 district and 1 county councillor in Kenn Valley. We share the work and try to have someone from our team at each meeting.

Building a relationship with the parish councils is important and one of the more satisfying aspects of the job. I am very proud to work alongside parish councillors who, like us, are committed to doing a difficult job but trying to make things better in the community. In most cases we have built a really good relationship with the parishes.

We were very disappointed therefore recently find information published on a parish council web site that gives the false impression that we are not attending their meetings. In response to this misleading information we have reported back to the Parish council as follows…

Report on Kenn Parish Council attendance and Meetings


It has been brought to our attention that the Kenn Parish Council web site home page has a prominent feature regarding District and County Councillor attendance at Parish Council meetings in 2022. This item has higher billing than any other parish matter, even than the proposed landfill application at Lower Brenton Farm.

The Data is presented in a way that implies an expectation that every district and county councillor will attend every Parish Council meeting. This is not consistent with enlarging the ward and allocating more councillors to cover the additional workload.

As the Parish chair and clerk are aware, meetings often clash with other councils Kenn PC and Shillingford PC and Holcombe Burnell and Starcross for example. It is therefore not possible for us all to attend all meetings. We work together as a team to cover these parishes and we do not undertake to have multiple representatives at any meeting.

The data presented on the Parish Council web page is clearly cherry-picked showing attendance only in 2022, when a range of factors affected attendance and the parish council’s own ability to hold valid meetings.  Below, a more useful summary of overall attendance is presented.

The information below is drawn from the published minutes on the Parish Council’s website except for January and December 2022 when we have relied on the agenda information for the January 2023 meeting.

2019County and District representationNotes
May Not yet elected 
JuneYes (Alan, Andy) 
JulyYes (Charles) 
SeptemberYes (Alan) 
OctoberYes (Charles, Alan) 
NovemberYes (Charles, Alan) 
DecemberYes (Charles, Alan) 
2020County and District representationNotes
JanuaryYes (Alan) 
FebruaryYes (Charles, Alan) 
MarchYes (Charles, Alan) 
April Cancelled: Covid
MayYes (Alan) 
JuneYes (Alan, Andy) 
JulyYes (Charles, Alan) 
SeptemberYes (Alan) 
OctoberYes (Alan, Andy) 
NovemberYes (Charles, Alan) 
DecemberYes (Charles) 
2021County and District representationNotes
JanuaryYes (Alan, Charles, Andy ) 
FebruaryYes (Charles) 
MarchYes (Charles, Alan) 
AprilYes (Charles, Alan) 
MayYes (Alan) 
JuneYes (Charles) 
JulyYes (Alan) (**) 
August No Meeting
OctoberYes (Charles, Alan) 
NovemberYes (Charles, Alan) 
2022County and District representationNotes
JanuaryYes (Alan, Charles, Andy) 
FebruaryYes (Charles, Alan) 
MarchYes (Charles, Alan)Parish Council Inquorate
June Parish Council Inquorate
JulyYes (Charles) 
AugustYes (Charles & Andy) 
  Overall Attendance    30/40 

There is no requirement for district and county councillors at attend parish council meetings. It should also be noted that Parish Council meetings may clash – Kenn PC and Shillingford PC and Holcombe Burnell and Starcross for example.

It is also the case that councillors may be engaged on other council-related business, seeing constituents, involved in other meetings, or dealing with work/family matters.

Some of the Parish council data appears inaccurate. For example, Alan was not recorded in the Minutes as attending the July 2021 meeting. However, the minutes record a contribution he made during the meeting. (**)

In August 2022. The minutes record that Charles and Andy both attended for part of the meeting. This appears to be the first time the Parish Council has noted attendance for ‘part’ of a meeting. However, in the Parish Council note for the meeting on 10 January 2023, it is recorded that Andy was not present in August 2022.

The March and June 2022 meetings of the Parish Council were not quorate and could not proceed. This was because too few parish councillors attended, and it appears apologies were not given in advance.  

The March meeting was attended by Alan and Charles. They were there and waited… but the meeting had to be cancelled due to lack of parish councillors.

It is not correct to say there were no meetings in those months. There were properly called meetings of the Parish Council.

The Minutes of the May 2022 meeting note that the Clerk was to contact the District and County Councillors about attending meetings. We do not recall this contact being made.

The July 2022 minutes record that Charles attended. There was a discussion about ‘attendance’ and Charles explained the reasons why some councillors may not be present. As explained above, we work as a team.

It should also be noted that in September 2022, many councils cancelled meetings as a mark of respect following the death of HM The Queen, and as part of the period of National Mourning.

Kenn Parish Council continued to meet with the Clerk advising Alan:

“..Thank you for your apology. I will note it for the Council. We have taken the very difficult decision to proceed with the PC meeting. On balance the lack of many members of the public if any that attend meetings, we could quietly hold the meeting without impacting on this period of national mourning”

The Parish Chair and Clerk also know that that one of our team was diagnosed with cancer, has undergone major surgery, and is still undergoing a course of radiotherapy which may also prevent them from attending some further meetings.

In summary, although a small number of recent meetings have been missed, we will continue our endeavours to be represented at meetings of Kenn Parish Council and will continue, as we have for over the past three years, to take up issues for the community and parish council with Teignbridge and Devon County Council.

Councillors Alan Connett, Charles Nuttall, Andy Swain & Alison Foden

06 January 2023