1) Once a resignation has been made, or a vacancy is created, on the Parish Council the clerk shall notify West Devon Borough Council’s monitoring officer.
2) At their earliest convenience the Clerk shall put up notices of vacancy on noticeboards in the parish, and on the Council’s website and social media pages. Notices must be released on the same day. West Devon Borough Council must be notified of the day that the notice has been put up.
3) Electors of the parish then have 20 working days to write to West Devon Borough Council to request an election to fill that vacancy. Each vacancy is treated separately so in the event of multiple vacancies, an election would have to be requested for each vacancy.
4) West Devon Borough Council will notify the clerk after 20 working days whether an election has been requested. In the event of an election, West Devon Borough Council will proceed. If no election has been requested, the clerk will enact the co-option procedure.
5) The Council will notify the public that there will be a co-option and will invite applications from any eligible electors. Applicants will be provided with an application form to ensure their eligibility and provide prompts about information that will be required. The clerk will provide a breakdown of the work that councillors do to any applicants to ensure knowledge of the role. Both of these documents are attached below.
6) The Council will allow at least 20 working days for applications to be made, and will advertise on noticeboards, on Council’s website and social media pages and through the parish newsletter.
7) Closing dates will be set by the clerk, normally on the Friday before the meeting at which co-option is due to take place. No applications not with the clerk by the closing date will be considered.
8) In line with regulations, Council is not obliged to consider applications by those who have previously stood for election.
9) The Council’s standing orders allow for co-option votes to be made by secret ballot at an open meeting of the parish council.
10) Councillors must declare any strong personal relationships with applicants. Any councillors with strong personal relationships are still able to vote, since there is no pecuniary interest.
11) For a co-option to be made, an absolute majority of councillors present and voting is required. If this is not obtained on the first round of voting, the applicant with the lowest number of votes will be knocked out and voting will continue. If more than one applicant has the lowest number of votes, or an equal number of votes, they can be knocked out as a group.
12) In the event of multiple co-options, each vote must take place separately.
13) In line with the Code of Conduct 1.3 (c), councillors must make their choices on merit and without prejudice. It is recommended that they take into consideration the person specification included in the Legal Briefing from the National Association of Local Councils (attached) Councillors should be reminded that all new councillors will need to abide by the Code of Conduct.
14) Councillors voting on a co-option should remember that Council can be called upon to explain the reasons for its decisions.
15) Following the meeting at which a co-option is performed, the clerk should inform all applicants of the result at her/his earliest convenience.
16) New councillors will be provided with a councillor welcome pack, including the Register of Interest forms and the Declaration of Acceptance of Office, at the clerk’s earliest convenience and certainly before the next meeting of the Parish Council.
17) New councillors become official at the next meeting of the Parish Council when they formally take office by signing the Declaration of Acceptance of Office in front of the Proper Officer of the Council (the clerk).
18) In NALC’s view, it would be difficult for a local council to argue that there are special reasons which justify excluding the public during a council meeting, (s.1(2) Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960) when it is making decisions about a matter of public interest such as co-option.
Role of a Parish Councillor
The Parish Council meets at least once a month, normally on the third Monday of every month, to discuss local matters and make decisions.
Councillors are required to abide by the Code of Conduct (available below or from the clerk). The Code of Conduct applies in all situations where councillors can be perceived as acting as councillors. Councillors will also be expected to read all documents provided in advance of a meeting in order to facilitate good debate and swift decision making.
Especially in light of the General Data Protection Regulation being implemented, Councillors will need to understand the laws surrounding data protection and to be sure to act accordingly. The clerk will provide guidelines.
Parish Councils have specific powers and duties and are not able to perform actions outside of those roles. To find out what we can and can’t do, please read the Good Councillor’s Guide (available from the clerk, and will be given to the successful candidate). The Parish Council also recommends that councillors attend training courses when available. This may be through the council itself, or through another local authority. Lots of training is available through our County Association (the Devon Association of Local Councils).
Different local authorities have different powers, although we can cooperate with other authorities for the benefit of the parish.
The clerk is the impartial proper officer of the council. She/he is an employee of the council so part of your role as a councillor will be as an employer with all the responsibilities that entails. The clerk advises council on legal matters and ensures that the council is abiding by regulations. The clerk does not vote or make decisions on behalf of the council, although can advise on specific issues if asked. The clerk also gathers information on behalf of the council. The clerk works 8 hours a week, not normally including weekends.
Councillors are often required to sit on other local bodies or community groups to represent Council, which can involve extra meetings. In South Tawton, councillors all act as custodial trustees for the Victory Hall. Most councillors also have footpaths that they are responsible for keeping an eye on; Council carries out a biennial report on the parish footpaths. Our councillors also take on extra roles such as Road Warden. Occasionally Council puts on events (such as street parties) and will need councillors to volunteer.
All councillors must complete the Register of Interests, which is made public by West Devon Borough Council. Councillors’ contact details are provided on the noticeboards in the parish (when space is available) so please be aware that you will have to make some of your contact details public. Submitting this application form is considered as permission to make your name public in the event that you are the successful candidate.
Councillors are also asked to become bank signatories on behalf of the Parish Council to aid in making payments.
Matters that Councillors wish to be discussed by council can be raised in two ways; best practice is to inform the clerk no later than one week before a meeting that you would like to add a topic to the agenda. No decisions can be made at any meeting on a topic that is not on the agenda. If this is not possible then a topic can be raised during the section ‘Questions from Parishioners and public participation’. No response can be made by Council during that section, but it can start an action going forward.
Application for co-option to South Tawton Parish Council
Applications for co-option to South Tawton Parish Council must be returned to the clerk via post or email at the contact details shown below by the closing date. Please note that applications that do not reach the clerk by that time and date will not be taken into consideration. If you wish to withdraw your name from consideration please let the clerk know as soon as possible and definitely before 6pm on the day of the meeting at which voting will take place. You are responsible for confirming your own eligibility although the clerk can advise if needed.
Information provided on the pplication form will be shared with members of South Tawton Parish Council in order to facilitate the decision making of the Council. However, no information will be shared outside of the Council or made public except that the name of the successful candidate will be published following the ballot so that the community is aware of who sits on their Council; Council considers that completing and submitting an application form counts as express permission for your name being published in the event that you are successful.
1. To be able to stand as a candidate at a parish council election in England or a community council election in Wales you must:
• be at least 18 years old
• be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union, and
• meet at least one of the following four qualifications:
a. You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the parish in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
b. You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the parish area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
c. Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the parish area.
d. You have lived in the parish area or within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
2. There are certain people who are disqualified from being elected to a parish or community council in England and Wales. You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:
• You are employed by the parish council or hold a paid office under the parish council (including joint boards or committees).
• You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
• You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.
• You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations). The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date the person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years. The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.
• A person may also be disqualified from election if they have been disqualified from standing for election to a local authority following a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Adjudication Panel for England).
Code of Conduct
Please read the Code of Conduct before applying to ensure you are familiar with it and able to comply.