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Can councils make a list of their desired co-option candidates?

0 votes

Our council recently had some resignations, but councillors fear a by-election - on the grounds of cost.  The last one cost £3,500, a third of the annual precept. 
Local community groups here are willing to hold off calling for an election, but, before they make a decision, would prefer to know whom the councillors had in mind for co-option in the event of no election.
I know that no formal invitations for co-option can be announced until after the moment when it's clear no election will happen - but (after the vacancies notice is issued) can councillors say, as a matter of opinion only, whom they'd want to co-opt, in the event of no election? 
I realise one would have no guarantees that they will (or should) hold to that view of course!

asked by (140 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Firstly has the time limit for an election expired if so the cooption rules apply

Even if an election is called candidates can still withdraw

I can’t see how any public body can do as you suggest and guarantee cooption to anyone as for example what happened if a better candidate suddenly turned up
answered by (3.9k points)
Yes, I know that no guarantees can be made.
0 votes
The whole concept is that it is a council decision that is made at a council meeting. Your council may have a laid down co-option policy which should be followed. In principle written applications Based on a standard format for co-options should be sought via advertising etc. and a terminal date give in time for all of the applicants documents circulated to all councillors well in time to be evaluated  for the meeting at which decisions is be made. It would of course be helpful if candidates be present at the meeting also to help councillors with any questions they may have. A closed written vote can then be taken on each candidate ( if more candidates than places) and the results announced.

Under no circumstances should candidates be discussed outside that meeting
answered by (8.9k points)
Thanks.  I'm not sure that answers the question.
The council has a firm co-options policy in place.
The community just want to know which residents the councillors already have in the frame if the process did finally go to co-option. The community want to know that before deciding if they want to go the election route instead.

I'm interested too that you say discussion of the candidates (by councillors presumably) outside the meeting is not permitted.  Is that simply a 'usual practice', or is it somewhere written down in some guidelines?
There seems to be some confusion here. It seems the "community" want to know some strange things to hedge their bets.
Let's go back to basics. This seems to be driven by the reluctance to pay for an election not get councillors into the council. A good PC will have budgeted for elections every year if they feel it is warranted. Most of course will budget for the 4 year cycle when an election must be held (if more than requires apply). That is money that should be set aside for that purpose.
Your council and community seem to be trying to manipulate the system by trying to find out who or who might not stand before candidates will stand. WHY?
Is it that the councillors have already made their minds up as to who they would or would not accept.
No law: purely adherence to A) Your co-option policy requirements and B) the requirements of your code of conduct
I think everyone in our community – councillors and electors together - are looking for a compromise, rather than just rush into the machinery of 'process'.
The cost of a by-election would be a third of the annual precept, and, as staff and running costs take half of the precept, that would leave just one-sixth of the precept over for projects this year.
The councillors would simply like to say who they would have in mind for co-option (no guarantees or promises, of course) – in order to ‘speak to’ the concerns of those electors who are unsure whether to call for an election or not.
That seems a fairly reasonable course of action to me – a sign of councillors and community working together, to save money for community projects but also to ensure a representative council.
Yes, there is a reserve in place, but it seems a shame to spend it if a little clarity like this might mean it doens't have to be spent.

Incidentally, thanks for your answer to my other question about whether the qualities of candidates can be discussed outside a meeting by cllrs.  However, sadly, there is nothing in our local council’s codes to disallow or allow private discussion among councillors of co-option candidates’ qualities.
The answer to your dilemma is of course simple. When the vacancy(s) are announced no one from the community put their names forward and await the option for co-option to be given to the council then make an application to the council. If you read your code of conduct and standing orders relating to what is expected of a councillor under the Nolan principles the place for discussion is at the public meeting of the council when co-options are voted on. It is of course very difficult to adhere to such a principle but that shouldn't mean that you shouldn't try.
I think you're saying that an informal compromise is not possible in this instance, and that it's a matter simply - that the process must be adhered to.  Well, that does take us forward, in an understanding of what to do next, at least.
However, still can't find anything in the council's code of conduct or in the Nolan Principles about whether councillors can discuss - outside the meeting - a potential candidate's qualities.  (The Nolan Principles, as I read them, refer only to decisons, and the way the decisions were arrived at, which must be openly presented to the public at meetings.  As I understand it, councillors can discuss issues, in the pub say, with other cllrs or members of the public, so long as they come to meetings with open minds and also ready to explain their thinking behind any decision).
It's obviously a dense area!  It may be something we need to address in any  revision of the council's code of conduct.
Thanks for this exchange, and thanks for your time. I have learned a lot!
You are as always very welcome to any advice here freely given. We must bear in mind that much of the business of PC's has been historically dealt with in a very pragmatic way by those serving their communities needs and with local knowledge. Unfortunately not all of the now required rules and regulations and box ticking infestation in our lives has not met with a redesigning of PC's guidance by those responsible for the imposition of "the requirements".
This then leads inevitably to grey areas and only well thought out policies, tried and tested to remove these grey areas, are usually the only tool available to councils for self determination. Policies should not be produced and then shelved or filed away as "done" they should be continually visited, amended and changed when flaws or new needs are identified until they are truly fit for purpose.

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