Take part in a new national data collection on the 2023 elections

NALC have teamed up with De Montfort University’s Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC) to conduct a new national data collection about the local council elections held on 4 May 2023.

This research will allow them to learn how to support the running of local elections and how to ensure that local councils are able to hold elections locally without having to rely as much on co-option.

To support this, they are asking a representative of each local council to complete a short survey to tell them about their experiences of the election. They are seeking one response per council, on behalf of the council, from either the clerk or the mayor/chair of the council.

This survey seeks to understand:

  • How local councils were supported to run the election
  • Which support helps most
  • How councils encourage potential candidates to stand for election
  • How successful different approaches are
  • The processes used to co-opt additional councillors when the council has insufficient elected councillors.

The survey takes less than 15 minutes to complete. While they fully understand that there are many demands on your time, it is crucial to get the views of local councils like yours.

The deadline for completion is 17:00 on Friday 6 October 2023.

To access the survey, please click the following link: https://de-montfort.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/nalc-lgrc-election-survey-2023 .

Co-option

Co-option provides a way for councils to fill those post-election vacancies that might arise on their council following an election, or the casual vacancies that arise after a councillor loses their seat.

What is co-option?

Co-option is a process by which a vacant seat on a parish or town council is filled by appointment rather than an election.  It is often necessary to ensure a council is fully constituted and able to carry out its duties.

Vacancies can arise for various reasons such as insufficient candidates at an election, resignations and disqualifications.  Vacancies which occur due to a councillors departure mid-term are called casual vacancies.

Co-option due to insufficient candidates at election

If following an election the council has less members than seats available, but remains quorate*, co-options may be required to fill the vacant seats.

*A councils quorum is the minimum number of seats a council must have filled in order to carry out its business.  This is three, or a third of the total number of seats, which ever is greater (the figure is rounded up where applicable).

Is your council inquorate?  If your council is inquorate then you cannot co-opt and we would suggest you contact us for guidance.

What is the difference between a post election vacancy and a casual vacancy?

  Post-election vacancy Casual vacancy
What is it? Vacancies immediately following an election due to an insufficient number of candidates nominated. Vacancies following the departure of a councillor mid-term due to resignation or other reasons, as stated in the Local Government Act 1972 s87.
Do we need to post a notice of the vacancy? No, the council does not need to post a notice of the vacancy. However we’d still recommend advertising to attract potential candidates (more below). Councils must contact the district council in the event of a casual vacancy. The council must give notice of the vacancy, displayed in a prominent place in the parish for at least 14 days (excluding bank holidays etc), allowing electors to request a by-election*.  If no by-election is requested, the district council will confirm the council may co-opt, at which point you may want to advertise for potential candidates.

*by-elections will not be called when a vacancy occurs within six months of an ordinary election.

When do we need to fill the seats? The council has 35 working days to co-opt from the date of the election. If they do not fill the vacancies within the timeframe, the district council may take action to fill the seats. There is no statutory deadline, but councils are encouraged to fill its seats as soon as practically possible; the community deserves full representation.
What process should we follow? If you have an established co-option process, whether that’s a written procedure or just precedent, we would advise councils to follow a consistent process for both vacancy types.
Who is eligible to stand? Anyone wishing to join the council via co-option must be eligible under s.79 of the Local Government Act 1972 and not disqualified under s.80 of the Local Government Act 1972. These resources from the Electoral Commission may be helpful.

Frequently asked questions

Post-election vacancies do not exist until the new council takes office on 9 May 2023.  Co-options must take place after this date, and could be as early as your first meeting after the election (the annual council meeting) if you are confident that you have completed your normal process and have given a chance for new candidates to apply.

With casual vacancies; when a councillor resigns or loses their seat (Local Government Act 1972 s.80) during the term of office, you will need to inform the district council. They will give you a notice of vacancy, which lets members of the public know that a vacancy has arisen and gives them the opportunity to request a by-election. If a by-election is requested by 10 or more electors, then the district council will proceed. Otherwise, they will let you know that you are now free to co-opt and you can start your co-option process.

If the casual vacancy has arisen within 6 months prior to an ordinary election (next elections will be in 2027!) then the council does not need to contact the district council and does not need to co-opt (although can still do so if they wish!).

We recommend advertising vacancies and encouraging people to come forward; this is different from the statutory notices for casual vacancies where by-elections may be called. Advertising widely through a variety of mediums, increases the chance of the council having a choice of candidates and allows the council to be sure it has got the best representatives for the community.

As post-election vacancies do not exist until the new council takes office, we recommend delaying advertising your vacancies until after the election; while you can start advertising now, it may be unclear to candidates that the vacancy is only post-election. Waiting until the election is past will allow for more clarity and avoid any risk of challenge.

With casual vacancies, you can start advertising when the district council has told you that you can go ahead and co-opt since no by-election has been requested.

There is no statutory procedure for how councils undertake their co-options.  It is advisable to have an agreed procedure to ensure fairness, transparency and consistency. NALC would suggest that you get candidates to confirm their eligibility in writing; you may need to investigate or obtain evidence if that is challenged.

There are a range of ways that councils can find out more about proposed candidates including:

  • Application form – asking candidates to complete an application form, perhaps giving more information about themselves
  • Interviews – either with the full council or with a committee of the council (only the full council can make the decision to co-opt)
  • Written statement – ask candidates to submit a written statement explaining what they would bring to the council
  • In-person statement – ask candidates to address a meeting of the council explaining what they would bring to the council

Whatever you choose, the process must be open to all eligible candidates.  Consistency will be key and ensures that all candidates are treated fairly.

Only the full council can make the decision about who to co-opt; it cannot be delegated to either a committee or to an officer of the council. If the council is inquorate then it will not be able to co-opt and will need to contact the district council for support.

Voting, as with all council decisions, is by show of hands unless the council has provided otherwise in their standing orders. Secret ballots may only be used if standing orders allow for them.

It is difficult to justify the need to exclude the press and the public (including the candidates) while a council makes its decision on who to co-opt; choosing a public representative is expected to be a public and transparent affair.  Therefore co-options should not be considered in confidential session.

It is NALC’s view that where there is the same number, or less, of candidates than there are vacancies, then they shall be co-opted on to the council. If the council is concerned about lack of choice, then advertising a vacancy widely within the community may be helpful.

This is great news; the council can now choose a candidate with the most suitable skills and experience to join the council team.

By referring to the information from the candidates application forms, interviews and/or presentations, the council can determine which individual(s) will be best suited for the council in a consistent and fair manner.

When voting there must be a clear majority for a candidate(s) in order to co-opt. Where there are three or more candidates for one seat and a vote is tied, the candidate with the fewest votes shall be removed from consideration and the vote repeated until a majority can be achieved.

It is NALC’s view that if an eligible person has come forward for a vacancy, then they shall be co-opted to the council.  If they had nominated themselves in an uncontested election they would have had gained the seat, so its difficult for the council to refuse an eligible candidate and will likely be subject to challenge if they do so.

With post-election vacancies, if the power of co-option is not used within 35 working days of the election then the principal authority (the district council) has powers to step in to fill the vacancies. This might include holding a further election (at cost to the council) or may involve other acts such as appointing temporary councillors, or requiring that you post a notice of vacancy to allow a by-election to be requested. Your district council will be able to advise at the time.

With casual vacancies, we’d recommend trying again until you are able to fill those seats. Perhaps try a new approach; more advertising or reaching out directly to people who might be interested.

Just like elected councillors, co-opted councillors must sign a declaration of acceptance of office at or before their first meeting, and must submit their register of interests within 28 days of their co-option.  It is advisable that co-opted councillors do not take office until the end of the meeting at which they are appointed.

The clerk should notify the returning officer at the district council that a co-option has taken place as soon as practically possible after the meeting at which they are appointed.

All co-opted councillors should be given the same opportunities in regards to induction and training, as elected councillors.

No; a co-opted councillor will participate in council business in the same way as elected councillors. There are no restrictions to the roles they may perform i.e. membership of committees, election of chairman/mayor etc.

However, co-opted councillors will not count as an ‘elected’ councillor for the purposes of the General Power of Competence (although councillors appointed at uncontested election will).

For those councils which provide an allowance to their members, not including the Chair’s Allowance, please be aware that co-opted members are not eligible to receive the allowance. If you’re not sure, there is more guidance available in Legal Topic Note 33 or you can contact us for guidance.

How to attract candidates for co-option

Attracting candidates is similar to encouraging people to stand for nomination at election. Think about how you might reach a wide range of people; your website, social media and noticeboard are all good ways to reach different people but there may also be a local newspaper or newsletter you could use, or maybe even a leaflet drop in the neighbourhood? It might help to reach out to people directly, perhaps by going along to local groups or community events to talk about the council and the role of a councillor.

Simply publishing that there is a vacancy may not be enough to attract candidates.  Consider additional content in your promotional materials such as:

  • Eligibility criteria
  • The role of the council and councillors
  • The benefits of serving on a council inc opportunities to make a difference in the community, developing new skills and meeting new people
  • Offer training and support
  • Make it easy to apply

The council may want to consider what skills the council might need (for example, do you particularly need people with experience in planning or HR?) and whether the council might benefit from diverse representation (read here why diversity is important to local councils). While any formal notice must be clear that everyone is still eligible to apply, the council might be able to take those skills and expertise into account if they are choosing between candidates.

The NALC #MakeAChange resources might also help with editable posters, social media posts etc. There’s also a useful range of videos (and on YouTube) that you can share with your community.

Co-option – filling vacancies after an election

In an ordinary election, it is not uncommon for some councils to receive an insufficient number of candidates to fill its seats.  Co-option provides a way for councils to fill their vacancies.

What is co-option?

Co-option is a process by which a vacant seat on a parish or town council is filled by appointment rather than an election.  It is often necessary to ensure a council is fully constituted and able to carry out its duties.

Vacancies can arise for various reasons such as insufficient candidates at an election, resignations and disqualifications.  Vacancies which occur due to a councillors departure mid-term are called casual vacancies.

Co-option due to insufficient candidates at election

If following an election the council has less members than seats available, but remains quorate*, co-options may be required to fill the vacant seats.

*A councils quorum is the minimum number of seats a council must have filled in order to carry out its business.  This is three, or a third of the total number of seats, which ever is greater (the figure is rounded up where applicable).

Is your council inquorate?  If your council is inquorate then you cannot co-opt and we would suggest you contact us for guidance.

What is the difference between a post election vacancy and a casual vacancy?

  Post-election vacancy Casual vacancy
What is it? Vacancies immediately following an election due to an insufficient number of candidates nominated. Vacancies following the departure of a councillor mid-term due to resignation or other reasons, as stated in the Local Government Act 1972 s87.
Do we need to post a notice of the vacancy? No, the council does not need to post a notice of the vacancy. However we’d still recommend advertising to attract potential candidates (more below). Councils must contact the district council in the event of a casual vacancy. The council must give notice of the vacancy, displayed in a prominent place in the parish for at least 14 days (excluding bank holidays etc), allowing electors to request a by-election*.  If no by-election is requested, the district council will confirm the council may co-opt, at which point you may want to advertise for potential candidates.

*by-elections will not be called when a vacancy occurs within six months of an ordinary election.

When do we need to fill the seats? The council has 35 working days to co-opt from the date of the election. If they do not fill the vacancies within the timeframe, the district council may take action to fill the seats. There is no statutory deadline, but councils are encouraged to fill its seats as soon as practically possible; the community deserves full representation.
What process should we follow? If you have an established co-option process, whether that’s a written procedure or just precedent, we would advise councils to follow a consistent process for both vacancy types.
Who is eligible to stand? Anyone wishing to join the council via co-option must be eligible under s.79 of the Local Government Act 1972 and not disqualified under s.80 of the Local Government Act 1972. These resources from the Electoral Commission may be helpful.

Frequently asked questions

Post-election vacancies do not exist until the new council takes office on 9 May 2023.  Co-options must take place after this date, and could be as early as your first meeting after the election (the annual council meeting) if you are confident that you have completed your normal process and have given a chance for new candidates to apply.

We recommend advertising vacancies and encouraging people to come forward; this is different from the statutory notices for casual vacancies where by-elections may be called. Advertising widely through a variety of mediums, increases the chance of the council having a choice of candidates and allows the council to be sure it has got the best representatives for the community.

As the vacancies do not exist until the new council takes office on 9 May 2023, we recommend delaying advertising your vacancies until after the election; while you can start advertising now, it may be unclear to candidates that the vacancy is only post-election. Waiting until the 9th May will allow for more clarity and avoid any risk of challenge.

There is no statutory procedure for how councils undertake their co-options.  It is advisable to have an agreed procedure to ensure fairness, transparency and consistency. NALC would suggest that you get candidates to confirm their eligibility in writing; you may need to investigate or obtain evidence if that is challenged.

There are a range of ways that councils can find out more about proposed candidates including:

  • Application form – asking candidates to complete an application form, perhaps giving more information about themselves
  • Interviews – either with the full council or with a committee of the council (only the full council can make the decision to co-opt)
  • Written statement – ask candidates to submit a written statement explaining what they would bring to the council
  • In-person statement – ask candidates to address a meeting of the council explaining what they would bring to the council

Whatever you choose, the process must be open to all eligible candidates.  Consistency will be key and ensures that all candidates are treated fairly.

Only the full council can make the decision about who to co-opt; it cannot be delegated to either a committee or to an officer of the council. If the council is inquorate then it will not be able to co-opt.

Voting, as with all council decisions, is by show of hands unless the council has provided otherwise in their standing orders. Secret ballots may only be used if standing orders allow for them.

It is difficult to justify the need to exclude the press and the public (including the candidates) while a council makes its decision on who to co-opt; choosing a public representative is expected to be a public and transparent affair.  Therefore co-options should not be considered in confidential session.

It is NALC’s view that where there is the same number, or less, of candidates than there are vacancies, then they shall be co-opted on to the council. If the council is concerned about lack of choice, then advertising a vacancy widely within the community may be helpful.

This is great news; the council can now choose a candidate with the most suitable skills and experience to join the council team.

By referring to the information from the candidates application forms, interviews and/or presentations, the council can determine which individual(s) will be best suited for the council in a consistent and fair manner.

When voting there must be a clear majority for a candidate(s) in order to co-opt. Where there are three or more candidates for one seat and a vote is tied, the candidate with the fewest votes shall be removed from consideration and the vote repeated until a majority can be achieved.

It is NALC’s view that if an eligible person has come forward for a vacancy, then they shall be co-opted to the council.  If they had nominated themselves in an uncontested election they would have had gained the seat, so its difficult for the council to refuse an eligible candidate and will likely be subject to challenge if they do so.

If the power of co-option is not used within 35 working days of the election then the principal authority (the district council) has powers to step in to fill the vacancies. This might include holding a further election (at cost to the council) or may involve other acts such as appointing temporary councillors, or requiring that you post a notice of vacancy to allow a by-election to be requested. Your district council will be able to advise at the time.

Just like elected councillors, co-opted councillors must sign a declaration of acceptance of office at or before their first meeting, and must submit their register of interests within 28 days of their co-option.  It is advisable that co-opted councillors do not take office until the end of the meeting at which they are appointed.

The clerk should notify the returning officer at the district council that a co-option has taken place as soon as practically possible after the meeting at which they are appointed.

All co-opted councillors should be given the same opportunities in regards to induction and training, as elected councillors.

No; a co-opted councillor will participate in council business in the same way as elected councillors. There are no restrictions to the roles they may perform i.e. membership of committees, election of chairman/mayor etc.

However, co-opted councillors will not count as an ‘elected’ councillor for the purposes of the General Power of Competence (although councillors appointed at uncontested election will).

For those councils which provide an allowance to their members, not including the Chair’s Allowance, please be aware that co-opted members are not eligible to receive the allowance. If you’re not sure, there is more guidance available in Legal Topic Note 33 or you can contact us for guidance.

 

How to attract candidates for co-option

Attracting candidates is similar to encouraging people to stand for nomination at election. Think about how you might reach a wide range of people; your website, social media and noticeboard are all good ways to reach different people but there may also be a local newspaper or newsletter you could use, or maybe even a leaflet drop in the neighbourhood? It might help to reach out to people directly, perhaps by going along to local groups or community events to talk about the council and the role of a councillor.

Simply publishing that there is a vacancy may not be enough to attract candidates.  Consider additional content in your promotional materials such as:

  • Eligibility criteria
  • The role of the council and councillors
  • The benefits of serving on a council inc opportunities to make a difference in the community, developing new skills and meeting new people
  • Offer training and support
  • Make it easy to apply

The council may want to consider what skills the council might need (for example, do you particularly need people with experience in planning or HR?) and whether the council might benefit from diverse representation (read here why diversity is important to local councils). While any formal notice must be clear that everyone is still eligible to apply, the council might be able to take those skills and expertise into account if they are choosing between candidates.

The NALC #MakeAChange resources might also help with editable posters, social media posts etc. There’s also a useful range of videos (and on YouTube) that you can share with your community.

More information

The benefits of diversity in local elections

The ordinary elections for parish and town councils are rapidly approaching, and time is running out to attract new people to stand.  Cara Stobart, County Officer, discusses why diversity in elections is important to communities.

Diversity

Why is diversity important for parish and town councils?

Having a diverse council helps ensure that the needs and interests of all members of the community are represented and considered when making decisions. Being diverse helps boost a council’s credibility and legitimacy, as people are more likely to have confidence in a council that reflects the diversity of the community it serves.

For councils to represent and serve their communities effectively, councils should strive to include people from a variety of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Different groups have difference experiences, priorities, and ways of understanding issues.  Being able to use a range of perspectives helps prevent a council from having blind spots and ensures decisions are fair and inclusive.

By promoting diversity, a council can also foster a culture of inclusivity and equity in the wider community, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.

There are five key advantages to diversity on councils:

  1. Better representation: A diverse council can better represent the needs and interests of the entire community, including underrepresented groups, ensuring that all voices are heard and considered.
  2. Increased engagement: When people see themselves represented on the council, they are more likely to be engaged in democratic processes. This can lead to increase voter turnout, participation in meetings, and a stronger sense of community involvement.
  3. Improved decision-making: A diverse council brings a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table, which can lead to more well-rounded and informed decision-making.
  4. Increased legitimacy and trust: A diverse council can increase the council’s legitimacy and trustworthiness among the community, as people are more likely to have confidence in a council that reflects the diversity of the community.
  5. Enhanced creativity and innovation: A diverse council can bring new and innovative ideas to the table, leading to more creative solutions to community problems.

Attracting people to stand for election – Great candidates can come from anywhere!

For those not already in the sector, the world of parish and town councils may seem distant and complex. People might even have a picture in their mind of the kind of person who becomes a councillor, and incorrect ideas about what your council does and the activities they could contribute to if they became involved.

These assumptions might be hazy, but their impact can be very real, preventing people in your community who might make great councillors from coming forward as a candidate. With elections imminent, now is the time to try and break down some preconceptions and help every member of your community to see themselves as a potential councillor.  

When preparing for the elections, it’s worth remembering that you’re not just encouraging candidates to stand to become a councillor anywhere, you’re encouraging them to stand for your council.

One of the best ways to encourage people to stand for election is to promote what your council does for your community, and the kind of activities new councillors could be a part of. Don’t be afraid to shout about your council’s achievements and put a human face to the people who have made those achievements happen. Showing that your council already has councillors with different experiences and viewpoints can help encourage potential candidates to see themselves in the role.  

The procedures and responsibilities of being a councillor are important, but a more powerful way to appeal to potential candidates can be to emphasise the feeling of achievement and of working together to make life better in your community. When reaching out to find potential candidates, it can be helpful to look where you might find people who are already minded to help their community but aren’t aware that becoming a councillor is an option to do this: community groups, charities and social clubs can be great places to find community minded candidates.  

Now is the time to reach out to those potential councillors in your community and give them the information they need to make an informed choice to stand for election. NALC’s Make a Change campaign has some great resources to help with councillor recruitment. 

Further information

  • For latest advice on Ordinary Elections 2023 please visit our knowledge bank
  • Did you know we have an equality, diversity and inclusion e-learning module.

Elections and Coronation guidance in our Knowledge Bank

We have updated our Elections guidance and created an Elections FAQs to help guide you through the upcoming council elections. We’ve also created a Coronation webpage to gather ideas and advice for celebrating the Coronation!

Devon has local council elections coming up in May 2023, which can be a bewildering process for anyone new to councils and even those who have gone through the election cycle before. In addition to our Preparing for Elections training, we also have updated our elections guidance in our Knowledge Bank to help you understand what might be coming up.

We’ve also created an Elections FAQs, covering just some of the questions we get asked about the elections, so you can find a quick answer to any query you may have. As always, if you can’t find an answer on our website or need any further help, then please don’t hesitate to contact our Advice Service.

Putting yourself forward for election can also be a confusing time, so we’ve created this Elections Guide for Candidates for any potential election candidates this year whether you’re a returning councillor or completely new to local councils – please feel free to share the guide in your communities as you promote the elections!


Coronation 2023

This year, the Coronation being held on Saturday 6 May, is also having an impact on local election timelines. We have created a dedicated webpage with guidance on the plans laid out by the palace, some suggestions for organising different events, and a breakdown of what various councils in Devon are doing to celebrate. We hope this will be a useful resource for your council, and will build a picture of how Devon is celebrating.

If you haven’t yet told us how your council is celebrating the coronation, then please do take a moment to complete this short survey; it’s really useful to know what councils are planning!

FAQs

Please find below a selection of the most frequently asked questions we get around the election. If there’s anything missing, then please feel free to contact us.

Before the election

You will need to complete your nomination form and return that to the district council by the deadline. You may find this guide for candidates helpful – Elections 2023 – candidate information

Nothing! You will automatically lose your seat on Tuesday 9th May. Make sure you’ve given any council equipment back to the clerk, and if you have a council email address remember that you will lose access to that.

Not much – clerks may be sent physical copies of nomination forms to give to prospective candidates. Candidates must complete the forms themselves, and return them to the district council. We advise clerks not to return forms on behalf of candidates.

The clerk may be able to supply these if they have access to the electoral register (although they do not have to!) or the district council will be able to help.

Clerks don’t play a big role although may still be busier than normal as they sort out aspects of administration. The Returning Officer at the District Council will do most things – they will send notices for the clerk to put up in the area. Clerks may also act as a first point of contact for any potential candidates, signposting them to further information and possibly giving out nomination forms if they have any paper copies.

Once all the nominations are in, the district council will issue a statement of nominated persons. If there are more nominations than seats available on the council, there will be an election with a poll held on Thursday 4th May. Otherwise, it will be an uncontested election.

The election process is overseen by the district council and different districts do things differently, including some differing timeframes. This is true even just in Devon, and certainly across counties. If another council seems to be doing things differently, it may be that they are in a different district. If you’re unsure, reach out to your district’s Elections team for guidance.

You can advise candidates on the process, but don’t complete their paperwork for them. You could share our elections guide for candidates with them – Elections 2023 – candidate information

If your council does have a contested election then the costs are likely to paid by the district council who will then share the cost with your council. Different districts may share out the cost differently.

The cost varies between councils, and between districts, so we can’t give you a clear answer on this. The best thing is reach out to the district council and ask if they can give you an estimate of how much an election might cost. It may help you build up reserves for the next election, or for any possible by-election.

The pre-election period

The pre-election period starts when the notice of election is published; different districts will publish the notice on different days meaning the start of the pre-election period is different between councils. The latest date is the 27th March 2023.

It covers rules around what content you can publish in the run-up to an election. Broadly, normal council business can continue but you may want to be careful with any publicity; all publicity must be in the name of the council. Please see our elections page for guidance, or contact us for support.

No, this would be using council resources to promote candidates.

 

No, we’d recommend only publishing the documents sent to you by the Returning Officer.

A fantastic way to promote the election! However, these can only be published by the council before the pre-election period begins.

Absolutely! However, you cannot use any council resources to do so. Ask your clerk if you are unsure.

Yes, you can although it may be easier to hold it before or after the pre-election period is possible. You may want to review your normal content to ensure you are sticking to normal council business and not allowing the event to be used to promote a candidate.

Candidates can promote themselves, and this may occasionally be difficult to handle. If you are concerned about the content of any communication from a candidate, reach out to the Elections team at your district council or the Electoral Commission. If there are inaccuracies, then you can always prepare a short, factual statement to issue to anyone who asks the council to clarify.

After the election

If the council isn’t quorate (a quorum is one third of the council, or at least 3) then it cannot make any decisions. The district council has powers to help; you will need to contact them for assistance. A scheme of delegation can ensure that your clerk can still make essential decisions.

The annual meeting can be held between Wednesday 10th May and Thursday 25th May, inclusive. There’s no rush to hold it as soon as possible in that timeframe!

Before anything else, the council must appoint a chair. Councillors may be asked to sign some paperwork such as the Declaration of Acceptance of Office. There may also be some policies to review, and some appointments to committees to make.

Don’t worry – councillors who weren’t at the last meeting can still vote to approve the minutes.

A council is not properly constituted without its chair, so someone will need to put themselves forward. Remember, it’s only a year and there is training available.

See our range of training available here – we have a wide range of courses, and don’t forget our e-learning as well for those who may be time limited.

All councillors (even if returning to the council) must complete:

  • Their election expenses to return to the Returning Officer at the District Council (guidance here), within 28 days
  • Their Register of Interest form to return to the Monitoring Officer at the District Council, within 28 days.
  • A Declaration of Acceptance of Office form, signed before or at the first meeting of the council and kept by the clerk.

The Coronation and the election

Yes you can, but all publicity will need to be in the name of the council, not individual councillors.

Yes, they will still be councillors until Tuesday 9th May. However, it may be sensible to check how involved they want to be in any celebrations.

Elections

You don’t have permission to view the content

Have your say: NALC elections survey

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is researching the local elections in May this year to examine the elections process for parish and town councils.

Following the May 2019 local (town and parish) elections, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) are undertaking research based on the experiences of councillors, councils and county associations. A mix of qualitative and quantitative survey questions will be given to county associations and clerks to answer and distribute. The qualitative data gathered will give councils and councillors a chance to describe their personal experiences (good and bad); while the quantitative data collected will give a statistics-based overview of the local elections.

NALC aims to gather the voices and experiences from different levels of local government: individual councillors, councils and county associations. In addition to experiences gathered from diverse geographic locations around the country and from a large size range of council. The research gathered will also obtain more information about councillors themselves such as their motivations for running for election, their use of election materials and how they promoted the election in their communities.

NALC will be placing this survey research in conjunction with additional quantitative data gathered from district and borough councils’ websites, revealing; how many seats were won through a contested election; the number of co-opted councillors; and the number of vacant seats on local councils. Overall, this research has several targeted audiences which will highlight a range of experiences. Placing first-hand experiences in a context of quantitative analysis will produce an in-depth  picture  of  the 2019 May local elections. NALC expects that this research will uncover positive as well as negative experiences and will be used by the entirety of local government as a springboard to promote the next elections for all local councils. NALC aims to promote the election process as an important part of being the first tier of government and suggest ways that councils can encourage more members of the public to stand for election.

Survey for clerks to fill in: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GC5TVYF

Survey for councillors to fill in: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GHKRX5J

It takes all sorts

This booklet highlights the difference you can make by representing your community on your local council. It explains the role of local councils and local councillors and explains how you can get involved. The booklet also features the thoughts of current councillors from around the country explaining a little about why they represent their communities.

Belstone has its first election in nearly 30 years

The tiny parish of Belstone in West Devon is celebrating not only having an election, but a fantastic turn out at the polls too.

Belstone is a small village up on the high moor on the northern tip of the Dartmoor National Park; Okehampton is the nearest town.  The cattle, sheep and ponies from the surrounding commons wander freely around the village in amongst the many walkers and other visitors who come to admire the scenery and enjoy the local tearoom and the pub.

It has an electorate of 213 and has peacefully allowed those willing to volunteer to become parish councillors to do so unhindered for the best part of 30 years.  Indeed it has often been necessary to co-opt willing residents to make up the numbers – a situation familiar to many parish councils up and down the country.  But this year, as the four year term of office of the existing council came to an end, things were stirring in Belstone.

A planning application for the construction of a new house in the village, potentially the first for two decades, divided opinion amongst the residents.  The parish council recommended refusal and the planning authority agreed, but it marked a change in the village.  When the time came for nominations for the new parish council, instead of struggling to fill the places, 13 candidates stood for the seven available places.  The parish clerk ran out of nomination forms and had to seek more, much to the surprise of the election staff at West Devon Borough Council.

On the day of the election, 2nd May, an astonishing 74.65% of the electorate turned out to vote – even better than 72% of the national electorate who voted in the European Referendum.  The normal figure for parish council elections varies between 30-40%.  And there were no spoilt ballot papers!

When the result was announced, six of the seven existing parish councillors had retained their seats, with just one new member.  However, all of them now have a mandate for the next four years as they seek to do their best for the local community.  But will it be the same in four years time or will the usual inertia re-assert itself?  We shall see.

Guest post by Kate Little, Clerk to Belstone Parish Council