Follow Councillor Q&A on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter

Can a parish council produce and distribute its own 'polling card letters' for a parish council by-election?

0 votes

Parish council electors have successfully requested that a casual vacancy on the parish council be filled by election. If there is only one nomination, the one nominee will be 'elected unopposed'. If there are two or more nominations, the Borough Council will organise a parish council by-election and the parish council must pay the Borough Council's costs of organising it. 

The parish council is baulking at the cost of the election, several thousand pounds, and is refusing to pay for polling cards which are an additional expense. Instead, the parish council is intending to print and distribute to every household its own letter setting out the date and times of the election, the location of the 3 polling stations in the parish - and even possibly some information about the candidates whose identities will be known by the time the 'polling card letters' are distributed.  

This all sounds highly dubious and possibly illegal. Surely, each elector is entitled to their own personal polling card (or letter?) which must contain their individual polling number and which must direct them to their own specific polling station. Surely, any letter sent by the parish council purporting to be a 'polling card' cannot contain any information about any candidate as the parish council must maintain strict political impartiality.  

I would welcome guidance on these issues. 

by (480 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
So to clarify you have one Councillor vacancy on your Parish Council.

Has your local authority been notified of the vacancy ?
by (1.7k points)
There is only one parish councillor vacancy.  It was advertised by the parish clerk. 10 parish council electors sent a petition to the Borough Council (the Local Authority) requesting that the vacancy be filled by election and not by the parish council co-opting a candidate. The Borough Council will now arrange an election if more than one person is nominated to fill the vancancy.
PC can produce their own polling cards etc.  Have the LA informed your PC of  election costs and what it includes? Polling cards could be part of the package. These costs should be weighed up against any additional PC costs eg extra work for the Clerk who should be paid overtime.
Perhaps you call the LA yourself to gain more insight into the process?
Just as query was the vacancy advertised prior to the electors petitioning and will the Borough only arrange an election if more than one person is nominated
0 votes
Whilst only the elections authority can issue the official polling card, it is not a legal requirement that these be issued at all and parishes should have the opportunity to opt out of this at any election as it is at the parish council expense.  It is not necessary for an elector to produce the card at the polling station as polling station staff will have access to lists of those eligible to vote.
It is quite within the remit for a parish council to encourage the electorate to vote but it is not within the remit of the parish council to "promote" any candidate so the letter needs to be factual but nothing more.  I suspect naming the candidate(s) is probably permissible but that would be all and it certainly shouldn't resemble or purport to be a formal "polling card".
My own council has certainly put up posters and issued flyers to encourage our electorate to exercise their right to vote as we believe it is really important that local residents take an interest and actually vote.
by (10.7k points)

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Clares Cushions logo Peacock cushion

Clare's Cushions creates beautiful hand made cushions and home accessories from gorgeous comtemporary fabrics. We have a fantastic selection of prints including Sophie Allport and Orla Kiely designs and most covers can be ordered either alone or with a cushion inner. Buying new cushions is an affordable and effective way to update your home interior, they're also a great gift idea. Visit our site now

Google Analytics Alternative