But worse, they will see you there with your notepad and start talking...if politics is showbusiness for ugly people, than parish councils are the provincial am drams and you are the critic. (And like all amateur dramatic groups they expect to see a good, non-critical write up in the local paper).
Never encourage this.
All which is very unfair. It's easy to dismiss most parish councils - I know, I've done it, ostentatiously putting my pen down when a councillor has gone on a little too long about the planning history of a bungalow.
Most though know their patches and local people very well. But it's not always the bloke who speaks the longest or the most eloquently who has the most valid points or reasoned arguments. Indeed I've seen councillors rambling on, only to read back my notes and find they've said virtually nothing.
Now putting aside the legal advantages of public meetings for just a minute (which should give me time enough to forget all about it as I haven't got a copy of McNae's Essential Law for Journalists to hand) most points can be perfectly summed up in a brief conversation after the meeting.
If nothing else this will help establish contact with the parish councillor - although no doubt our heavy handed police will arrest you for this on the grounds of some spurious corruption charge...so watch out.
But, moving on, parish councillors are better than 99 per cent of "community correspondents" those poorly paid (yes, there is someone in local journalism who is paid worse than you) locals who write about the Yellow Pages being delivered to their village (I have read this in a paid for newspaper).
They understand what is going on with the community and with judicious cultivating may even share it with you.
However first you've got to know them - so don't be dismissive. See who the real players are and speak to them after the meeting. Don't be put off if they ignore you the first few times...they have no idea who you are.
So how do you win them over? It's simple, good journalism (it really does work).
Monday: How to impress the editor - or news editor (since so many newspapers feel editors are unnecessary) from day one.