Co-option Policy and Procedure
This procedure is based on NALC Legal Briefing L15-08 – Good practice for selection of candidates for co-option to local Councils.
Insufficiency of candidates at an ordinary election
Provided that those elected constitute at least a quorum (Four) the council (e.g. those elected unopposed) may co-opt any person or persons to fill the vacancies within 35 working days. If this is not done within the timescale the Forest of Dean District Council (FODDC) returning officer may then exercise its powers to hold a further election or to take other appropriate action to fill the vacancies.
According to section 87 of the 1972 Act, a casual vacancy occurs when:
- a councillor fails to deliver their declaration of acceptance of office at the proper time or
- a councillor resigns; or
- a councillor dies; or
- in the case of a councillor who is disqualified by virtue of a criminal conviction, under section 79 of the Local Government Act 2000 (Wales) or under section 34 of the Localism Act 2011 (England), the expiry of the period for making an application or appeal or, if an appeal or application has been made, the date that any such application or appeal process comes to an end.
- on the date of a report or certificate of an election court that declares an election void;
- a person ceases to be qualified to be a councillor for a reason not mentioned above; or
- a councillor fails to attend meetings for six consecutive months.
Parish Councils are permitted to exercise the power to co-opt a person on to the Council to fill a casual vacancy when the requirements to hold an election have not been met (i.e. The vacancy has been the subject of a public notice for fourteen working days and at least 10 registered electors have written to the returning officer requesting an election by the deadline date).
Although seeking expressions of interest is not a legal requirement, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) recommends that Councils always give public notice of vacancies because this makes the process of co-option open and transparent and should attract more potential candidates.
Once a casual vacancy occurs, the Parish Clerk will inform the FODDC and the vacancy will be displayed publicly on Parish council noticeboards, website and social media giving the deadline date for requests for an election to be received by the FODDC returning officer.
If FODDC confirm that the requirements to hold an election are not met, Drybrook Parish Council will advertise the vacancy to seek and encourage expressions of interest of persons to be co-opted by a specified date from anyone living or working in Drybrook Parish or within 3 miles of its boundaries who is eligible to stand as a Parish Councillor.
- Applicants are strongly advised to attend at least one Parish Council meeting as members of the public before applying to become a Councillor.
- Applicant should also familiarise themselves with the following information:
- the Good Councillor’s Guide,
- Standing Orders
- The code of conduct
- Financial Regulations
- And the most recent minutes of the Council
All of which can be found on the Parish Council website:
- The Clerk will send a copy of this policy or a link to it on the website, (which includes the co-option application form in Appendix B) and confirmation of the particular ward that the vacancy is in (Drybrook or Ruardean Hill) to anyone who requests it.
- Following receipt of applications, the next suitable Parish Council meeting will have an agenda item ‘To receive written applications for the office of Parish Councillor and to co-opt a candidate to fill the existing vacancy/vacancies’.
This will be a private session to be held at the end of all other business.
- Copies (sterilised of personal contact information) of the eligible candidates’ applications will be circulated to all parish councillors by the Clerk at least 3 clear days prior to the meeting of the full Parish Council, when the co-option will be considered.
- All such documents will be treated by the Clerk and all parish councillors as strictly private and confidential and should be disposed of as soon as it is no longer required in line with UK GDPR.
At the meeting designated for a decision:
- The Clerk will confirm that each candidate has signed and stated they are qualified to become a Councillor and is not disqualified from being a Councillor as set out in the Local Government Act 1972 s79 and s80.
- Where the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of vacancies, the candidates shall then be appointed to the council if they meet the section 79 eligibility criteria and they are not disqualified.
- Where the number of candidates is more than the number of vacancies, The Chair will offer the opportunity for debate on the order of priority to offer co-option.
- The vote will be by a show of hands on the acceptability of each candidate for co-option, utilising the ‘person specification’ criteria set out in Appendix A and the expression of interest form completed by candidates; no other information about or from a candidate will be passed on to the meeting by the Clerk.
- An absolute majority vote is required for each candidate from all members present and entitled to vote (LGA 1972 Sch. 12. Para 39 (50% + 1)) (The applicant with the least number of votes casted will be deleted and the vote taken again and again etc. until the number of candidates equals the number of vacancies)
- A vote will then be taken to select the order in which acceptable candidates (decided by the vote at 11. above) should be approached to offer co-option on this occasion.
- Following the meeting the Clerk or the Chair will contact and offer co-option to candidate(s), in the order of priority determined by the vote at above.
- If the first choice does not accept the post, then the second is to be approached and so on until the ranking list is exhausted.
- The Clerk will then notify Electoral Services of the new Councillor appointment, initiate acceptance of office paperwork and registration of interest and organise amendment of the Parish Council website and records accordingly.
- Assuming that the co-option position is filled, and all paperwork completed, the appointment will be formally ratified at the next Full Council meeting.
- The Clerk will then organise a suitable training and development programme for the new councillor utilising suitable training such as recommended by GAPTC or NALC.
- If no one accepts the vacant post(s), the whole process is to be repeated when new individuals expressing interest are identified. Advertisement may continue.
Appendix A: Co-Opted Councillor Person Specification Personal Attributes
All potential candidates will be requested to put their request for consideration by completing an application form (See Appendix B).
|· Sound knowledge and understanding of local affairs and the local community.
· forward thinking
· Motivated and enthusiastic
|Can bring new skills, expertise or key local knowledge to the Council
|Experience, Skills, Knowledge and Ability
|· Be contactable by phone and email.
· Ability to listen constructively
· A good team player
· Ability to pick up and run with a variety of projects
· Solid interest in local matters
· Ability and willingness to represent the Council and their community
· Good interpersonal skills and able to contribute opinions at meetings whilst willing to see others views and accept majority decisions
· Ability to communicate succinctly and clearly
· Ability and willingness to work closely with other members and to maintain good working relationships with all members and staff
· Ability and willingness to work with the Council’s partners (eg voluntary groups, other parish councils, principal authority, charities, etc)
· Ability and willingness to undertake induction training and other relevant training.
|· Be literate in IT regarding use of social media and websites.
· Experience of working or being a member in a local authority or other public body
· Experience of working with voluntary and or local community/interest groups. • Basic knowledge of legal issues relating to town and parish councils or local authorities • Experience of delivering presentations.
|Ability and willingness to attend meetings of the Council (or meetings of other local authorities and local bodies) at any time and events in the evening and at weekends.