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How many co-opted parish councillors would reasonably expected to be on a parish council?

+1 vote
asked by (170 points)

5 Answers

0 votes
I would love nothing more than to see contested elections at local Parish level but realistically id suggest its pretty unlikely unless specific local issues drive forward people to stand.  "Elected Without Contest" & then "Co-Opted" Councillors locally seems very much norm and understand nationally in May broadly speaking similar picture.   You cant force people to stand (nor should we).  I do accept its problematic in terms of public perception when the only people stepping forward are colleagues/family/friends/business partner of existing members.
answered by (810 points)
0 votes
Theoretically, all the councillors could be co-opted!

Remember, under law, if a vacancy occurs, then that is notified to the District or County Council, they then put up the notices asking if people want an election to fill the seat.

If the electorate does no say they want an election for that vacant seat(s) then the seat(s) can be filled by people being co-opted on.

If that happens often enough you could end up with a PC made up mostly of Co-opted Councillors or even one made up completely of Co-opted Councillors. (I know of two councils where all the members are co-opted)

So it is not about what is 'reasonable' it is about what the law deems reasonable, and that comes down to the electorate. Nor should you fall into the trap assuming that co-opted councillors are in any way less able the elected councillors, often they are not.

answered by (790 points)
0 votes
In our elections in 2019, all our councillors were elected uncontested which is different from being co-opted.  There is also the natural decreased of elected councillors the further you go from the 4 yearly elections as circumstances change, people move or retire.
I know from experience that a councillor on my council declined to stand for election as they were nervous about the election process but then stood for co-option which still had a procedure but did not have the legal requirements of form filling, witnesses, submission of electoral expenses.
answered by (8.1k points)
It is disappointing when people do that. Co-option is not ideal, but unfortunately repeated by-elections are impractically costly. It does seem far from ideal when people are not willing to present themselves to the electorate for endorsement, but expect to be co-opted immediately afterwards. Ideally, local councils ought to be promoting genuine local democracy, which involves engaging with citizens. (The administrative processes at parish level really aren't all that difficult, as I'm sure you know, and most local elections officers are very helpful, as are many clerks and councillors).
0 votes
I've just taken on a council that had a contested election in May, but has seen 9 resignations since and it wouldn't surprise me to see a couple more before Easter. I'm the third Clerk in that time too!
answered by (14.1k points)
Goodness! That sounds like the basis for a good story!
Can't publish the book until I've retired!!
Looking forward to it!
0 votes
There is a knock on effect of a councils ability to exercise the General Power of Competence.

At the time the resolution for GPC is passed (at the annual meeting usually), at least two thirds of the members of the council must hold office as a result of being declared elected. (i.e. no co-opted).
answered by (2.1k points)
Where I am a councillor we have more co-opted than not - hence effecting GPC, but how does this effect the Council practically?
I haven't been able to find any statistics about GPC take-up, but if my area is typical, it must be very low indeed. I haven't heard of any parish council adopting it, due, in part, to the fact that we have no qualified clerks. I'm not aware of any councils getting involved in the Award Scheme either.
In a traditional sense, there is no change to how your council operates. It just means you can't take advantage of the extra powers available. The power gives councils the power to do anything an individual can do provided it is not prohibited by other legislation.
I thought the awards scheme was defunct - but apparently not. Take up seems to be about 13% with this current NALC scheme, with approximately 1580 councils with an award. So not a lot.

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