There are a number of reasons that a vacancy may occur within a Parish Council.
The Returning Officer will provide the public notice of the casual vacancy which the Parish Clerk must display as soon as practicable after the date on which the vacancy has been deemed to have occurred. The notice or notices are displayed for 14 days in a conspicuous place or places within the area of the parish/ward.
Upon the expiry of the 14 days in which the Notice of Vacancy has been displayed, the Parish Council may co-opt to fill a casual vacancy. Interested persons can contact the Clerk directly during the 14 day period. Details on the co-option process will be publicly available. Any person applying must be qualified to serve as a councillor (see details below).
The person co-opted must receive an absolute majority vote of the councillors present and voting. For example, where there is a council of eleven members and there are nine councillors present and voting, the absolute majority is five. Where there are more than two candidates for the vacancy, it may be necessary to run a series of votes, each time removing the candidate who has the least number of votes until one candidate secures an absolute majority.
The usual rules on voting apply. Provided that the meeting has a quorum, the decision must be made by a majority of members who are present and voting.
If, within fourteen days (from date of notice) after public notice of the vacancy has been given, the Returning Officer received a written request for an election signed by TEN electors for the Parish/ Ward, an election must be held to fill the vacancy. There is no prescribed form for this written request. The cost of the election process is funded by the Parish Council.
The written request will trigger the election process. The Returning Officer will set a date for polling day, and the election process will begin, with the publication of a notice of election, copies of which will be supplied to the Parish Clerk. That notice informs the electors where they may obtain nomination papers and the date by when they should be delivered. It gives the dates by which applications to vote by post or proxy must be made. it also gives the date of the election in the event of a contested election. It is from this point that the Parish Council will start to incur the full costs that will arise from staging an election.
A person is qualified to be elected and to be a councillor if they are a British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen and on the relevant day (that is, the day of nomination or election) they are 18 or over. In addition, the person must meet at least one of the following criteria:-
On the relevant day and thereafter they continue to be on the electoral register for the parish, or
During the whole of the twelve months before that day they have owned or tenanted land or premises in the parish, or
During the whole of the twelve months before that day their principal or only place of work has been in the parish, or
During the whole of the twelve months before that day they have resided in the parish or within three miles of it. Except for qualification (a), these qualifications then continue for the full term of office, until the next ordinary elections. Certain people are disqualified from standing, and these include paid officers (including the Clerks) of the council, bankrupts and those subject to recent sentences of imprisonment.
Any information or enquiries about any matters concerning the democratic electoral process or contacting the Returning Officer should be directed to
Elections Helpline: 01793 464601
The helpline opening hours are:
Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Friday 9:00am to 4:30pm.
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