Below is the information I have received from both the Democratic Services Manager at the NFDC and from the Hampshire Association of Local Councils.
I apologise for the delay in putting the information up on the website, having received the initial information and a link to more detailed document, I was then advised that the National Government had gathered data with a view to altering the Electorate numbers required to call a Parish Poll and decided to wait confirmation of this first.
However, having now been advised this is unlikely to be available before May, I have decided to publish the information gathered to date and post an update once received.
The Democratic Services Manager advises that LGA1972 Sch 12 18(4) says a poll may be demanded on any question arising at the meeting and electorate have a perfect right to give a view on housing in their area.
HOWEVER, any Parish Poll is purely ADVISORY and should only be called an item that lies within the Powers of the Town or Parish Council and are therefore able to decide on.
As ultimately Planning Permission is granted by (in this case) the New Forest National Park Planning Authority with the Parish Council being only Consultees in the Planning process it could be ascertained that in this instance the question (Provision of Affordable Housing) does not fall within the guidelines of a Parish Poll.
The Poll and Count
The rules for the conduct of the poll are similar to those common to all elections, with some variations or exceptions: Polling is between 4.00 pm and 9.00 pm.
There are no provisions for electors’ poll cards or for postal or proxy voting.
The notice of poll must include the date, time and place of the poll, a description of the electors who may vote and the particulars of the question with the name and address of its proposer.
The form of the ballot paper is prescribed in the rules; the wording of the question is an important consideration.
The only persons who may enter the polling station (apart from voters, of course) are the Returning Officer and his clerks and the proposer of the question.
A count of the votes follows.
The only persons who may attend the count are the Returning Officer and his clerks and the proposer of the question.
The Returning Officer may also invite persons to attend, and a small number of courtesy invitations would probably be made.
There is no provision for the proposer of the question to call for a recount.
Notice of the Result must be given by the Returning Officer.
Who pays for the Poll?
The cost of holding the poll falls on the parish council, and therefore on Council Tax payers.
It is estimated that a parish poll in Copythorne would cost £1,000 - £1,500.
The outcome of the poll is no more and no less than an expression of the views of the electorate of the parish who have voted in the poll.
It is not binding.
Parish Polls in Summary
• A Parish Poll can be called for at the Annual Parish Meeting provided it is requested by 10 or one third of the Electorate (whichever figure is the less), attending the meeting.
• should be concerning an item that lies within the Powers of the Town or Parish Council to decide on.
• The result of the Poll is not binding on the Council Members in any way.
Before requesting a Parish Poll that can only request the Parish Council no longer engages with the Agencies bringing forward the provision of Affordable Housing and not stop the process itself.
I would ask the electors who stated their interest at the Annual Meeting to consider what this would ultimately achieve.
If the aim is to ask that the Parish Council to distance themselves from the process, this can be requested as an Agenda Item for the members to vote on without recourse to an expensive and ultimately probably unproductive process.
However, by asking the Parish Council to do so would also stop the Electorate of Copythorne Civil Parish having any influence on (for example) the position and type of housing provided, which could result in a model that is unacceptable to all.
Proper Officer to
Copythorne Parish Council.