The recent consultation on referenda where local councils propose "excessive council tax increases" put me in mind of the often overlooked ability for local parishes to hold their own parish polls. A poll can be called by very few parishioners and have for some years been an opportunity to carry out an exercise in "localism".

The first step is to call a parish meeting. If six or more local voters (or two parish councillors) demand one, a parish meeting must be held in order to consider the local issue - which could simply be the question of whether or not a poll should be held. Even if the poll is not the declared business of the meeting, a single voter can demand one as long as the demand is made before the meeting is concluded. If a demand is made then either the person chairing the meeting must agree or the poll must have the support of ten voters (or a third of voters present if less) in order for it to go forward.

The district council must then arrange for the poll. The only basis for refusing to do this is if the question (which must be capable of a yes/no answer) has no practical relevance in the parish. This hurdle is easily overcome in the case of local planning applications.

The local planning authority will not be bound by the result of the poll which will have the status of a material consideration as long as the question posed is one which is relevant to planning