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Co-option of Councillors

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Can I seek clarification that the co-option of any councillors should have a process (such as an application form) which should be sent soley to the clerk of a Council - not to a Chairman.

If a Chairman has directed interested persons to contact them directly, does that mean the process become compromised and therefore the 'application' and any prospective co-option, invalid, certainly if the above was not clear it was part of a co-option process.

As always, a new area to me.
asked by (2.4k points)
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The law surrounding co-option are vague and left to the council to decide.  They could ask their mate down the pub to take the seat and that would be legally acceptable as long as they were eligible to apply.  We have a thorough policy that outlines the process and voting procedures and there is a chance that if you apply, and you were the only applicant, that the council could decide not to appoint you as there is a requirement to obtain 50% of the vote.
answered by (11.3k points)
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Our process is that candidates write to the clerk after seeing an advert (website, facebook, local shops and notice board).

The clerk convenes a staffing committee, where the candidate(s) are given an introduction to the Parish Council, what we currently do, what we can do, what we can't do, they give an introduction about themselves and afterwards, they vote to make a recommendation to the full council. (We dont tend to get a public audience so it is informal, "who are you, what experiencds do you have, are you sure you know what we do, and what you are signing up for" type event.

At the full council meeting the candidate is invited to give a short intro about themselves. (All candidates are forwarded to full council with or without a recommendation).

This allows the public to "speak now or forever hold your peace" in case a member of the public wants to say something in support of the candidate (or otherwise).

We then vote on the candidate(s) as required by law, in that they must have a majority of vote 50%+1, and not just a plurality.
answered by (6.6k points)
Absolutely agree. A council should have an extremely good and transparent reason why someone (who meets the legal criteria) is not co-opted on. Councillors should not be playing Judge and Jury with a public petition.
Public petition?
Our examples in the year before we changed policy:
One person dropping in an 2 line email and that was it (only candidate)
One co-opted, signed and then left the meeting and had to wait 6 months to remove them.
One had previously been removed from a neighbouring parish for failure to attend, but as we weren't given the name until the meeting we didn't know.
One attended 3 meetings then dropped out because they couldn't do Thursdays.

Many of these could have been prevented by speaking the candidate first.

Our cooption councillors averaged one year before we changed, now we average 3 years.

We are choosing them without the consent of the public, I make no apologies for the council being a bit careful.
It's not for you or the council 'to be careful' regarding someone to take a public and official position. If the Councillor stays only for one meeting then so be it. Whilst it is frustrating, not helpful and inconvenient that's democracy I'm afraid.
If the council has one vacancy and only one member of the public applies and they meet the legal requirements you (The Council) have no right to stop them - why? Because if it was at an election and they were the only candidate they'd get on anyway.

Far too often Parish and Town Council's act beyond their means without getting the basics right. It costs the public purse nothing to co-opt a councillor so people need to chill out on the power trip. I had our co-option policy changed. When we had our previous policy I demanded the ways Councillors voted was minuted and the reason(s) for why the person was not chosen. After all transparency is the name of the game!
The decision on co-option is firmly in the domain of the Parish Council and the decision must be made by the councillors in a democratic way.To do this councillors should be in receipt of as much information as possible and to be able to meet and clear up any questions they may have of the candidate. It would be part of the initial application vetting for the clerk to ascertain that the candidate meets the required legal qualifications to serve. Chloe there is no legal requirement for the PC to automatically accept any candidate. Your comparison to an election is with respect, fallacious in that any vacancy has already gone through the chance to allow a vacancy to be filled by election before the PC is given the power to co-opt.
Mentorman - the comparison I made is not fallacious and I regret you miss the point I was making.

Whilst a council HAS the power to co-opt that should be understood to simply mean being able to bring someone on to the council outside of an election. That I’m afraid is where that power should end.

It is not for a council to play jury on who’s face does or doesn’t fit if a prospective councillor passes all the legal requirements.

To have any form of application is discriminative  and it’s only a matter of time before a test case comes to fruition.

I 100% understand, support and respect the need for decent Councillors who will bring great skills and be proactive for their community. There’s co-opted Councillors on our council who don’t cut the grain BUT it is for the electorate to decide the worth NOT fellow Councillors!

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