Three clear days before each Council meeting a notice of the time and place of the intended meeting shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the parish. A summons to attend the meeting, specifying the business proposed to be transacted and signed by the proper officer of the council, shall be left at or sent by post to the usual place of residence of every member of the council. Where the member has given consent (and not withdrawn it) the summons may be transmitted in electronic form.
The three clear days rule is established in law because councillors are unable to make decisions, especially decisions about spending money, unless they have been notified of the matters to be discussed. Sch. 12 of the Local Government Act (LGA) 1972 states ”The Agenda must specify the business which it is proposed to transact in such a way that the member who receives it can identify the matters which he will be expected to discuss ‘. Matters which require a decision cannot be added to the agenda once the deadline is passed, these must wait for another meeting.
So what does ‘three clear days’ actually mean in practice? When considering the sending out of the summonses and posting notices of meetings, we need to make sure we have ‘three perfect intervening days’, neither the day the agenda was posted nor the day of the meeting can be included. Therefore if an agenda is posted on a Monday the meeting cannot take place before the Friday.
In addition to this, section 243 of the 1972 Act makes it clear that a Sunday, a day of the Christmas break (meaning the period beginning with the last week day before Christmas Day and ending with the first week day after Christmas Day which is not a bank holiday), of the Easter break (meaning the period from the Thursday before until the Tuesday after Easter Day), of a Bank Holiday, or of a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning cannot be included as one of the three clear days. There is no case law deciding whether or not Saturdays can be included however section 270 of the 1972 Act makes it clear that the Saturday of a Bank Holiday Weekend does not count so it may be easier to avoid Saturdays altogether to save confusion.
(All legislation taken from Arnold-Baker on Local Council Administration 10th Edition).