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0 votes
I recently took up a position as parish councillor, so forgive my asking here - our clerk is adamant that promoting the vacancies to be co-opted (we have 3 infilled posts) through putting up posters in local hot spots (post office, cafes, doctors waiting room as examples) isn’t permitted. The concern I have is that we won’t reach a broad cross-section if the community. The one advert (posted to a minimally followed Facebook group and in a parish magazine with a tiny readership) states two councillors must be provided by any interested party, which has discouraged new people coming forward. The clerk has said advertising in local hot spots is inappropriate….my question is, what is and isn’t legally required? I’m asking as I intend raising the matter in the form of a motion that we discuss and construct a policy fit for purpose, with as much sensible flexibility as the law allows. Thank you so much for taking my question .
by (210 points)

4 Answers

+2 votes
There is very little in the legislation to say how co-option should be done. My view is that your clerk is completely wrong. You are right to want to publicise the vacancies as effectively as possible and to encourage new blood for the council. The fewer the obstacles the better. None of that would be unlawful.

One thing to bear in mind - presumably too late this time - is that 10 electors can demand a poll when a casual vacancy occurs. Then there can be an election, which is much better than co-option. The more candidates the better!
by (33.0k points)
Totally agree counterpoint!
Ask your clerk to verify and justify their stance that advertising a vacancy “isn’t permitted.”
Such a statement is utter nonsense!
With a casual vacancy, the initial notice which invites members of the public to request an election, must be placed in two "prominent places" within the parish.  There's no definition of "prominent" interestingly but it's generally meant to be the usual place that parishes place their notices.  Other than that there are no rules as such so I entirely agree that as wide a range of locations used, the better.  However, I'd suggest to avoid allegations of favouritism or bias the choice probably does need to be wide, i.e. not limited to just a few locations which might indicate a preference for a particular group of individuals.
Good point, Delboy'swife
+1 vote
Once you’ve got your new Councillors get yourself a new Clerk as how can I say this politely they  are talking tosh
Heaven only knows what other strange ideas they have
It’s entirely up-to the Councillors how they go about advertising the vacancies
by (11.5k points)
Thank you so much - I’ve a feeling the clerk is a problem as I was alerted to there being something off, when I received an email saying “this always happens, new people come along and think they can change everything’ when I tried asking the questions locally!
Elections are the responsibility of the principal authority and they should be advising your clerk.  Before shooting the messenger, might be an idea to ask what advice they've given.  As I've found, they're not always correct themselves!  Perhaps your clerk needs some training.
Funnily enough (funny odd, not funny ha ha) the clerk has created a mandatory training package - 3 hours, on Zoom, that we’ve all been told we have to attend. I don’t think they can mandate it, but I’m in enough trouble already, so I’ll do it.
I think you need to ask who wags the tail on your council! It certainly  isn't the councillors !
Mandatory training package? How dare he/she?
On whose authority did the clerk 'create' it?
My response would not be printable I'm afraid.
0 votes

Think you desperately need to get a new clerk!

What on earth does ' states two councillors must be provided by an interested party' mean??

This is a totally meaningless statement - seemingly designed to confuse electors.

Casual vacancies should be advertised prominently in the Parish. If more than the required number apply then an election should be called.  This is probably what your Clerk is trying to avoid!  

Any elector can put themselves forward for a casual vacancy. Any elector (with 10 electors signatures) can call an election.

Your Clerk needs to become ofay with the rules or get a different job. It's amazing how many Clerks think they run the Council - nor just work for them!

Sorry for the spacing - I cant find a way to alter it. 

by (170 points)
Thank you, really appreciate your taking time to respond. I wish I could include the actual ad that was used!
the ad said, two councillors NAMES ust be included with application (which also makes no sense).  I assume this was there to further confuse, but was intended maybe to be read as the names were needed to Sponsor the applicant. its all getting more and more suspicious.
That's absolute nonsense !! Anyone applying for a co-option does NOT need a sponsor. The council as a whole can decide whether to accept the applicant or not.
When you speak about this to the council make sure you have all your facts and the evidence of the rules pertaining to co-options. A good source of clear information for Parish Councillors is 'The Parish Councillors Guide' by Paul Clayden. I found it invaluable when challenging the clerk. Having said that I convinced the council to buy every councillor a copy!
I lost a few battles before I learned to always have evidence based facts to support my stance because many councillors would believe the moon was made of green cheese if the clerk told it was!
Good luck!!
Thank you taking the time to reply. I shall definitely add Paul Clayden to my reading. I’ve already purchased Arnold-Baker on Local Administration (as the clerk quotes from it at me) and, as ridiculous as I know it is, I’m too scared to ask to see the relevant texts in their copy as I am certain the clerk is going to put in a complain of bullying or harassment. I think they would be just the sort of person to go on the counter-offensive in that way, so I’m therefore treading very carefully …
Stand your ground. Asking for evidence and providing evidence regarding any matter cannot be regarded as bullying. The worst he/she can do is complain to the Borough standards board and would certainly lose when clearly only information is being asked for. This is a tool often used to control questioning councillors. Councillors might as well not be there if they are going to accept bullying from the clerk. I asked the Borough Legal Officer by email (written proof) for advice too. In the end I won my argument. I know it's a daunting thought being complained about but if you can justify (with evidence) sometimes there is no option but to plough on.
Times like these when the videoing of meetings is useful.
Again, really appreciate your response. I’ve ordered Paul Cleyfen (Nov 2009 seems the most recent edition). Found it at Foyles, discounted to a phenomenal £3.00 a copy, so I’ve ordered 11 and will (perhaps surreptitiously, behind the bike sheds - so the grownups don’t see) hand them out to my councillor colleagues. I’m so bad !
these might be worth a read.
https://www.scribeaccounts.com/blog/bullying-law-and-the-councillor-code-of-conduct-2020-for-parish-town-and-community-councils

http://calc.org.uk/Images/GoodCouncillors%20guide%20-%204th%20Edition_tcm131-398274.pdf

I'm struggling to find any more up-to-date
I hope your fellow councillors read and digest your books. You actually sound very much like me when I started many years ago. :)
Thank you …. it’s so heartening to know someone else has survived !! LOL. I’d downloaded the Guide you linked, just this morning and it’s on my Kindle ready to read. The other link (I’ve just given it a look) makes fascinating reading …. I’m astounded at the level of respondents who have experienced such negative and appalling treatment. PCs must, it appears, attract both some of the most egotistical, aggressive and unpleasant people and, conversely, the most tolerant, patient and reasonable of individuals, who soldier on despite the provocation! I’m definitely the latter.
Keep on battling :)
0 votes
A vacancy arises through a councillor resigning, being convicted of certain criminal offences, failing to attend at least one council meeting or when too few eligible candidates deliver a submission to stand for election etc.  A Parish or Town Council isn't empowered to modifiy or add new definitions to those pre requisites.  I don't know where you Clerk gets the idea that "two councillors must be provided by any interested party" from. It is certainly not true.   It would be more accurate to say the nomination papers for candidates need two valid electors for the ward/parish concerned   a proposer and a seconder.
My advice would be to submit a motion that publicising Cllr vacancies be done in accordance with the guidance provided by NALC in the link below and resolve that you Clerk implements the issue of communications accordingly.  https://www.nalc.gov.uk/library/our-work/elections-1/3685-make-a-change-resources-comms-pack/file
by (34.9k points)
This answer is so bang on for helping to show me what I need to do. So far every attempt to raise the topic has been shut down. I’ve been called disruptive, by the Chair, and told to step back because I don’t yet know how council works, and my attempts to even talk about what I’ve meant have be called offensive by the Clerk. It is it a steep learning curve…. luckily playground bullies and their acolytes don’t expect someone like me to dig, dig, dig ….. thank you so much for this answer.

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