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The Co-option Process

0 votes

A recent vacancy on my local parish council was filled after an election. In the subsequent parish council meeting minutes it was reported that the clerk stated

"The clerk commented that if the parish council had had the opportunity to advertise to co-opt then there would have been no cost. A councillor commented that that would not have been a very democratic process. The clerk commented that as part of the co-option process there is the option to bring in external support to ensure transparency when reviewing applications".

Could anyone comment on what the sentence above, in red, means; how it might work and if anyone have ever used this process?


asked by (940 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
The Clerk is trying to say that a 3rd Party can be used as an Observer to ensure that fairness has been exercised. That is how I read it.

A totally wrong approach.
The process is that the Clerk, informs the Returning Officer (Principal Authority), and notifies residents that a vacancy has arisen. If enough  parishioners want to call an election (10) then nominations will be sought. The Returning Officer will identify the date of the election if candidates come forward.   
Co-option can only  take place after this process has been properly undertaken. The Clerk here obviously does not understand and does not want these procedures to be undertaken. Democracy costs but is vital  to the democratic process.
answered by (2.6k points)
From the Good Councillor's Guide

"Co-option: the council chooses someone to fill a vacancy if insufficient candidates are proposed for seats at an election. An ordinary election occurs every four years but there may be an election when a seat falls vacant at other times. In addition, if a vacancy occurs between elections (for example, by the resignation of a councillor), the council must generally find out if the electors want an election before they can co-opt. It is better for democracy if councillors are elected rather than relying on co-option, so they can be confident that the council is the community’s choice of representatives."

and The Essential Clerk Booklet

"In between elections councillors may leave for a variety of reasons. If a councillor decides to resign, they must write to the chairman while the chairman resigns by writing to the council. This creates a ‘casual vacancy’. You should contact the Returning Officer for guidance. First you follow proper procedures to find out if the electors want to offer a candidate for election (which may be contested or uncontested). If not, after the proper time has elapsed, the seat can be filled by co-option (provided that the four-year elections are more than six months away)."

It looks like the clerk at my parish council has not read either of these publications!
"Co-option can only  take place after this process has been properly undertaken." - but what if there was already vacancies from before who could be filled by co-option, and only then a new vacancy came up?

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