Elections will be held on the 6th May to form a new Parish Council that will serve for the next four years. Would you like to be part of it???
What do Parish Councils do?
Parish councils are responsible for delivering local services. Your parish council has an overall responsibility for the well-being of your local neighbourhood. Their work falls into three main categories:
- representing your local community
- delivering services to meet local needs
- striving to improve quality of life in the parish
What do Parish Councillors do?
Parish councillors make decisions about policies and services, keep an eye on how well things are working and represent local residents.
How do I become a Parish Councillor?
Most parishes in Northamptonshire have elections in 2021. In this document you can find out if you are eligible to stand for election and how you can apply.
What’s in it for me and my community?
You should consider becoming a parish or town councillor if:
- You Want To Do Something Positive for Your Community
- You Want To Spend Your Time Productively
- You Can Think, Listen and Act Locally
Your parish council provides, maintains or contributes to the following services:
|Festivals and Celebrations||Litter bins Litter picks|
|Sports field||Parks and open spaces|
|Traffic calming measures|
They will often work with larger councils (district, borough or county) in your area called ‘principal authorities’ and cooperate to ensure the effective delivery of services to the local community. Yours will be the new North Northants to be formed on 1st April 2021
Councillors have three main areas of work:
- Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented
- Monitoring: councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working
- Getting involved locally: as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. This often depends on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available
The day-to-day work of a parish councillor may include:
Going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community, such as the police, the Highways Authority, schools and colleges
Taking up issues on behalf of members of the public, such as making representations to the principal authorities
Why should I become a councillor?
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. Parish, town, community and neighbourhood councillors are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. By standing for your parish council you could make a real difference to your local neighbourhood.
Can I become a parish councillor?
Most people can stand for election, however there are a few rules. You have to be:
- a British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union, and
- 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election
You cannot stand for election if you:
- are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
- have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine
- work for the council you want to become a councillor for
There are specific rules around candidacy. The full range of disqualifications for candidates is quite complex and some exceptions may apply. Full details can be found on the website of the National Association of Local Councils.
Which parish council can I stand for?
You can become a parish councillor for any parish in which you are in the list of electors or during the whole of the preceding twelve months you
- occupied land as owner or tenant in it, or
- had a principal place of work there, or
- resided in or within three miles of it
How much time will I need to spend?
It is possible to spend a lot of time on council work – but most people have jobs, families and hobbies that also demand a lot of time. However, as with most things, the more you put in, the more you (and your community) will get out.
Generally speaking, the larger your community the larger your workload will be. The times of the meetings vary, as do the venues. Parish councils normally meet in the evening. It is important to establish the pattern of meetings and venues to make sure they can accommodate your domestic and/or business arrangements. Islip Parish Council meets once a month on the second Tuesday except for August.
Quite often councillors say that their duties occupy them for about three hours a week. Obviously, there are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a local councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work.
How do I become a councillor?
To stand for election, you can
- contact the parish council directly, via the Clerk firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07756851026
- contact the Returning Officer at your borough or district council.
Application process and timetable
Now you’re ready to take the next step to becoming a councillor.
A prospective candidate must deliver to the Returning Officer for the election a valid nomination paper. This form is obtained as described in the previous section. The candidate’s surname, forenames, residence and description (if required) must be entered and his or her number and prefix letter from the current register of electors. The Returning Officer has a copy of this register, and the clerk of the local council normally has one. The nomination paper must also contain similar particulars of a proposer and a seconder. They must be electors for the area for which the candidate seeks election (i.e. the parish, community or town or the ward if it is divided into wards): they must sign it
Find out more
To find out more about the application process and whether you are eligible to stand for election contact your principal council elections office at East Northants Council. There is a wealth of information and nomination forms available from the Electoral commission. Follow this link to the website https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/parish-and-community-council-elections-england
Frequently Asked Questions
What title will I have?
An elected member of a parish council is called a councillor, abbreviated to Cllr. Conventionally you will be known as, for example, “Cllr. Bob Smith” or “Cllr. Mrs Jane Smith”. You can use your title whenever you act, or wish to give the impression of acting, for the parish council.
What happens if I stand but am not elected?
As in any contested democratic process, there is a risk of not winning. If the number of persons nominated is less than or equal to the number of places available then the election is uncontested and you are automatically elected. If there are more candidates than places and you don’t win enough votes on Election Day then you will have lost the election. Some people may feel awkward about this, particularly as the people voting are quite often your friends, neighbours and community associates, however, there is no shame in losing a contested election – it’s part and parcel of public life and there will be other opportunities to get on to the council, either at the next election or if a vacancy crops up. Don’t let the fear of losing stop you from putting yourself forward. Just think of what you could achieve if you knew you couldn’t fail!
What support is there for newly elected councillors?
Being a councillor is a respected and valued role in a community. There is lots of support available to councillors, from training and development courses run by the Northampton County Association of Local Councils, to representation by the National Association of Local Councils, based in London. Councillors would in the first instance seek assistance from fellow colleagues and the council’s clerk (chief officer). The support and continuous professional development of councillors is open-ended these days.
Can I get out of it if it’s not for me?
Yes. You can withdraw your nomination if you decide before the election that you don’t want to go through with it (deadline for withdrawal is 4pm on Thursday 8 April 2021). If you are elected and decide subsequently that council life is not for you then you are free to resign at any time. However, be warned that when you start to make a real difference to community life and see the benefits that being a councillor can bring to you and your community it may just suck you in for life!
Am I personally liable for anything as a councillor?
Generally speaking, no. The council is a corporate body, which means that in law it has an identity separate to that of its members. Anything that the council decides to do by resolution is the action of the corporate body and any land, property, leases and other contracts are in the name of the council. The exception would be in extreme cases of negligence where an individual councillor has acted contrary to council policy, which may lead to personal liability.
Will my employer support me if I need time off for council business in work time?
Yes. You are allowed reasonable time off to go to meetings or to carry out your duties. The time must be agreed with your employer beforehand and your employer can refuse your request if it is unreasonable. A specific amount of time off is not laid down in law. Your employer doesn’t have to pay you while you take time off for public duties, although many do. Your employment contract will normally say whether you are paid for this time off.
Does it take up a lot of time?
It can, but it doesn’t have to. You will be required to attend monthly meetings of the council which are normally 2 hours long. You should be well-prepared for meetings and preparation can sometimes take longer than the meeting itself!