Elections are held every four years and normally take place on the first Thursday in May. If, following an election, there are insufficient members the council may, if a quorum exists, fill the vacancies by co-opting people to serve as members of the council. A quorum is three members or a third of the council’s membership, whichever is the greater.
To become a Parish Councillor, a person must:
- be at least 21 years old; and
- be on the electoral roll for the parish; or
- have lived within, or no further than 3 miles from, the parish over the whole of the last 12 months; or
- have their main place of work in the parish; or
- own or occupy property in the parish
Term of office
A Parish Councillor may be elected (with or without a ballot) or co-opted. The term of office comes to an end 4 days after the date of the normal 4-year elections (2015, 2019, 2023 etc.). A councillor’s office does not begin until they have signed a Declaration of Office. A councillor loses office if they fail to attend any relevant meetings over a 6-month period.
Each councillor is responsible to the Parish Council, but they will normally wish to consider the views of electors/council tax payers/the community, and they must adhere to the law and to matters raised by the Parish Council’s auditor. In some instances (e.g. corruption) a councillor may be personally liable, but normally the Parish Council is liable for acts carried out in the name of the Council.
Code of Conduct
Every councillor has to abide by the Code of Conduct for Parish Councils.
While respecting the confidentiality of certain business, councillors should take steps to sound out opinions, monitor problems, talk to people and be adequately prepared for meetings. Councillors should not attempt to act as the “spokesman” for the Parish Council unless they have been specifically authorised to do so.
Between meetings, the official business of the Parish Council – such as writing letters and contacting local authorities – is usually handled by the Clerk.
Parish Councils may choose to pay their members an allowance, known as ‘parish basic allowance’, to recognise the time and effort they put into their parish duties. There is no obligation on parish councils to pay such allowances, and Longhorsley does not do so at present.
A parish council may also pay its members allowances in respect of travel and subsistence. These are discretionary allowances. They may be paid in respect of travel both inside and outside the boundary of the parish.
Parish Council members are conventionally given the title “Councillor xxxx” but there is no legal basis for this.