The Role of the Parish Councillor

The Role of a Parish Councillor

  1. Speak on behalf of the community, by ensuring that views of the electorate are represented on and to the appropriate bodies. These may be district, county, unitary or central government, or government agencies.
  2. Be aware of events, changes in the local area and needs of the community.
  3. Maintain and provide local amenities, which are council owned.
  4. Make decisions on expenditure within the parish.
  5. Contribute to the Council’s policy. A Councillor cannot act on his or her own. The power of the Council comes from majority decisions of the Councillors acting as a body.
  6. Ensure Council’s policy decisions are followed through. This will involve helping to set and agreeing a budget for every financial year. Take responsibility for ensuring the council’s financial procedures are correctly carried out.
  7. Be aware of and ensure that the obligations of the Council as an employer are put into practice.
  8. Respond to government initiatives for local communities.
  9. Keep in touch with good practices and events in the Local Council world.
  10. Attend Council meetings regularly.

Warwickshire and West Midlands Association of Local Councils
(Affiliated to the National Association of Local Councils)

Am I Qualified To Be a Parish Councillor?

Yes – most people are. However there are a few rules.

You have to be:
  • a British subject, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union; and
  • on the “relevant date” (i.e. the day on which you are nominated or the day of the election) 18 years of age or over;
and additionally:
  • on the “relevant day” a local government elector for the council area for which you want to stand; or
  • have during the whole of the 12 months preceding that day occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the council area; or
  • have during that same period had your principal or only place of work in the council area; or
  • during that 12 month period resided in the council area.

In the case of a sitting member of a parish or community council you can also satisfy the criteria to be elected if you have lived in the council area or within 3 miles of it for the whole of the 12 months preceding the “relevant day”.

You Cannot Stand For Election If You
  • are 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 sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine.
  • you work for the council you want to become a councillor for (but you can work for other local authorities, including the principal authorities that represent the same area).
The Election Procedure

Ordinary elections of local councillors take place on the first Thursday in May every four years. For most local councils election year is 2003, 2007 etc. but where the principal authority (county, district and unitary authority) councillor is elected in some other year that is also the year of the local council election.

Reorganisation of local government may cause alteration of the election day and election year in some cases.

The Election Timetable Is As Follows:
  • Publication of notice of election: Not later than the twenty-fifth day before the day of election.
  • Delivery of Nomination papers: Not later than noon on the nineteenth day before the day of election.
  • Publication of list of candidates: Not later than noon on the seventeenth day before the day of election.
  • Delivery of notices of withdrawals of candidature: Not later than noon on the sixteenth day before the day of election.
  • Notice of Poll: Not later than the sixth day before the day of election.
  • Polling: Between 07:00 and 22:00 on the day of election.

In calculating the timetable the Bank holidays and weekends are disregarded.

Nomination Process

A prospective candidate must deliver or send by post to the Returning Officer a valid nomination paper. This form is obtained from the Officer. 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.

What Next?

The returning officer appointed by a principal authority (district, borough, county or unitary authority) is the person responsible for the conduct and arrangement for community, parish and town council elections.

If you are considering becoming a candidate for election it could be wise to contact the Returning Officer to obtain any more detailed information.