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In what circumstances can a parish councillor be removed from their office and how does this happen?

0 votes
When a counsellor behaves in such a way as to be bringing the council into disrepute, using racist and abusive language , has already been admonished for his behaviour, and continues.
I understand that a vote of no confidence from his parishioners is possible is that correct?
asked by (120 points)

5 Answers

0 votes
If you're hoping for a procedure to oust a councillor, I'm afraid you're out of luck! A councillor becomes disqualified only for limited reasons. The main ones are failure to attend meetings without reason for six months, becoming bankrupt or being sentenced to at least three months imprisonment (even if suspended).  They can also become disqualified in relation to corrupt or illegal practices, or by becoming a paid officer of the council.

However, citizens do have the right to call a parish meeting, which requires 10 signatures. A parish meeting can be called to discuss any local matter, and can pass resolutions. These are not binding in all but a few specific cases, but will have some impact as expressing local feeling.

In the short run, the only effective way is public pressure leading to resignation. Many people are not so thick skinned as to ignore being castigated by their fellow citizens. In the longer run, the solution is for other candidates to stand at the periodic elections. In any case, it is always a good thing for there to be new blood coming forward to seek election to a council.
answered by (29.6k points)
You could call for a Parish Poll to be held on this matter. Although it is not binding, it would send a clear message, and the Parish Council & the alleged errant Cllr couldn't ignore it.
Sarah I understand your frustration but we have to face the government wants volunteers to stand as Parish Councillors and they have to reward/entice them somehow. Currently Cllrs can raise as much money as they want and spend it on what they  want without the need for consultation. Nor can their decisions be challenged. Similarly Cllrs once elected are almost impossible to get rid of and the Code of conduct has few sanctions available . This situation sometimes brings abuse which can present itself in various forms. Also the audit regime is  a joke
You are right, Openspaces. All the same, it is not difficult to become a councillor at local level. Public pressure and a press campaign may well force resignations, and a poll can be demanded if the council is not trusted to make wise choices over cooption. And every four years there are the regular elections. It really is down to the citizens to find good people who are willing to server as councillors. It isn't really too demanding in any but the largest local councils.
As the clerk once said to me "you can seek your remedy at the next election"
The problem with a Parish Poll is that it is always expensive (between £5k and £8k) and the cost comes out of the precept. So, it is a double-edged sword. And, yes, if a vacancy is then caused, it may end up being filled by co-option unless you can get ten electors to request an election (there is a time frame within which this has to be done), in which case you can have an election ... just be ready to stand!
If 10 members of the public wish to sign for an election to be held for a single vacancy but none of them are prepared to stand then it becomes an expensive process as the Parish Council has to pay for all election costings including the printing and posting of poll cards, the hire of the polling venue, the staffing for the polling station and the staffing for the count.

This all comes out of the council precept possibly £3,000 to £5,000 at a time out of the kitty. Money that could be spent on the community. Do this two or three times and you will be seeing a big hole in your reserves which in some cases takes many years to accumulate.
+2 votes
If it is racist and abusive language and it is in public or evidenced, then they could be reported to the police before going down the code of conduct route...
answered by (14.7k points)
If the meeting was held recently, it was probably conducted on Zoom, so there should be an audio recording. There doesn't seem to be anything in the new regulations about who can access these or if they have to be destroyed when the draft minutes have been approved at the next meeting.
+3 votes
This is yet another reason why TC/PC’s need an independent review on their make up, processes and operations.

Many councils don’t operate or think like formal tier of government in relation to their operations and Procedures. As part of my masters degree I did a review on PC’s and many perform like village groups. There’s some benefits to this but those who operated and thought like a formal tier of government always performed the best.

Cllr’s are for the most part elected by parishioners and so it’s right that they can’t be removed as easily as many would hope (just to personal feelings) BUT there should be a central governing body who deal with Cllr complaints who have the power to sanction and remove.
answered by (5.4k points)
In theory that would be desirable. In practice, having a governing body is difficult. There was such a body - the English Standards Board. But many of the cases it handled were rather trifling. And if matters are to be dealt with justly - surely a requirement if the governing body has real teeth - then it is bound to be expensive and possibly slow, especially given the number of local councils. My feeling is that it would be better to give more powers to local Standards Officers with a limited right of appeal to a higher body. However, that is very unlikely to happen while principal authorities are strapped for cash by government policies. Ultimately, the problem is, sadly, a result of government dislike of local government, a policy that I feel is very much mistaken.
0 votes
Sarah, it seems you're not alone. I live in Cheshire and moderate the Hold Them To Account UK Facebook site. I'm also an expert panel member on BLMInTheStix and run a pro-equality (inclusion) organisation.
I want to call for a national amendment to the Local Government Act 2000 and/or Localism Act 2011 (advice sought!) in order to redress the lack of consistency between standards of paid elected representatives and 'volunteers'.
Residents - across the country - have been targeted by Town Council 'leaders' for asking them to adhere to the Equality Act. We've seen a sharp rise in evidence of this online (since Jackie Weaver) and I'd like to ask anyone interested in this to support me in petitioning government for a change in legislation.
Simply; the Code of Conduct (face to face and online) of Town and Parish should adhere to the standards of MPs and Local Authority Councillors. This is apolitical and should rise from grass roots up to meet our right to healthy, political engagement.
If you're interested in supporting this, please connect with me here, on Twitter @HannahCaC79 or any other way you can find me (Facebook, LinkedIn)?
answered by (140 points)
Hannah, please would you provide a link to the petition here?  Thanks :)
There is currently a petition calling for the Government to legislate to enable councillors to be disqualified or suspended for poor conduct.  It will run until 25/11/21.
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586143
It will be featured by BBC Radio4 soon, I'll add the link here when it goes live.
It could be this Friday, other stories dependent.
0 votes

There has been a recent update to this thread (by Hannah Cotton) which may be of interest to people.

answered by (830 points)

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