How to Become a Parish Councillor
There are three ways to become a councillor:
Ordinary elections are held every four years and this is when all 11 seats on the council are up for election. Councillors serve a four-year term and all take office four days after the election. The next ordinary elections are in May 2023.
If a vacancy arises between ordinary elections a by-election may be held for the one seat. The elected councillor will serve the remainder of the term and retire with other councillors at the next ordinary election.
If an insufficient number of candidates stand for an ordinary election leaving seats vacant, or a by-election is not triggered when a casual vacancy arises, the existing councillors may vote to co-opt a councillor to serve the term.
What does a parish councillor do?
In short, councillors work together to set the direction of the Parish Council. Councillors attend regular meetings of the council to make decisions on a range of matters deciding what services should be delivered and where money should be spent and what policies should be implemented.
Councillors represent the local community as a whole. Councillors will be contacted by residents who have problems they need assistance with, and some councillors are appointed to serve on outside bodies, such as the Sandstone Group.
Who can be a Parish Councillor?
Anyone aged 18 or over can stand for election (or co-option) if they meet certain qualification criteria.
The first criteria is that you are a British citizen or a citizen of either an eligible commonwealth nation or the European Union.
The second criteria is your connection to the area. There are four different criteria you could meet, and you only need to meet one of them to be able to stand.
|Registered Elector||Occupied Land in the Parish|
|You are on the electoral register for the Parish at the time of nomination and will remain on it throughout your term of office.||You have occupied land or premises in the Parish as owner/tenant for the 12 months preceding nomination (and election).|
|Work in the Parish||Live in the Parish|
|Your main/only place of work is in the Parish or has been during the past 12 months – this includes voluntary work if it is the main/only work you undertake.||You have lived in the Parish (or within 3 miles of the parish boundary) for the 12 months preceding nomination (and election).|
You are disqualified from being a Parish Councillor if any of the following apply:
- you are an employee/paid officer of the Parish Council
- you are subject to a bankruptcy restriction order/interim order
- you have been sentenced (inc. suspended sentences) to a term of imprisonment of three months or more within the 5 years prior to polling day
- you have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 e.g. for corrupt or illegal electoral practices
Detailed guidance on qualification and disqualification can be found on the Electoral Commission website.
Frequently asked questions
Are Councillors Paid?
No, our councillors do not receive payment or allowances.
Who decides if there will be a By-election?
A casual vacancy arises when a councillor leaves office between ordinary elections. This could be through resignation, death, disqualification or by repeatedly failing to attend meetings.
When a casual vacancy arises, the Clerk will publish a notice giving the electors who live in the ward, 14 working days, to demand an election. If 10 electors write to the Returning Officer of Cheshire West and Chester Council to request an election a by-election is triggered.
If fewer than 10 request an election, the Parish Council must instead co-opt a councillor to fill the vacancy.
If the vacancy occurs within the 6 months before an ordinary election, no by election will be held even if demanded. If a by-election is not demanded the council can choose to leave the vacancy unfilled until the election.
What support is provided?
The clerk is available to answer any questions a new councillor may have in relation to their role. Additionally, CHALC provide training for new councillors. In addition, experienced councillors are happy to support new councillors ‘find their feet’.
We encourage councillors to undertake training relevant to their roles and the needs of the council.
Can I be a member of a political party/ Do I have to be?
Most councillors in our parish are independent of political parties.
However, councillors can stand for election (or co-option) as candidates for a political party, to do so they must have permission from the party, usually through the local branch.
Standing for Election
Elections to the Parish Council are run by Cheshire West and Chester Council (the elections authority). Standing for election is the same for ordinary elections and by-elections and the Electoral Commission website has resources that explain the rules in more detail. The detailed timeline for an election will be set out in the formal notices. If you are intending to stand as a candidate for a political party you should contact the party in advance.
Just over a month before an election, a formal notice of the election will be given by Cheshire West and Chester Council. This will be published on the Parish Council’s noticeboard and website. The notice will give a date from which nomination papers can be submitted.
Nomination papers can be downloaded from the Electoral Commission website. Candidates have from the day after the notice until around one month before an election to submit their nomination papers to Cheshire West and Chester Council – there is often a window of around a week between the notice and the deadline for nominations. Nomination papers must be hand delivered and completed fully. You must have a proposer and seconder who are registered on the electoral role for the parish. You will also need a witness to confirm you have consented to the nomination and provided your correct information. If you are standing as a party representative, they must sign consent to your nomination.
By the day after the close of nominations, a statement of persons nominated will be published, which lists who has stood for election and who has proposed them. This will be followed by the ‘notice of poll’ which confirms the details of the election.
There are detailed rules on campaigning and election spending, candidates should read the guidance from the Electoral Commission.
When the votes are counted depends on what other elections are running on the same day. Cheshire West and Chester Council will let candidates know when the votes will be counted, and candidates can attend the count.
Applying for Co-option
If the Parish Council has a vacancy to fill by co-option, we will advertise it on the parish noticeboards and website. Anyone interested in applying for co-option should get in touch with the Clerk.
Nominations will then be put to a meeting of the Full Council where the councillors will vote to determine which candidate is co-opted and becomes a councillor.