Elections & Becoming a Parish Councillor
Elections are held every 4 years and the next elections will be held in May 2019.
Nomination papers to apply to be a Parish Councillor can be obtained at least two months before the elections take place from the Borough Council. Wakes Colne Parish Council receives its nomination papers from the Strategic Governance Manager, Colchester Borough Council, Rowan House, 33 Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex, CO3 3WG. At the time of the election being called, a timetable is published detailing the date by which the nomination papers must be received by the Strategic Governance Manager and how to deliver the nomination papers to the Borough Council.
If a casual vacancy occurs it can either be filled by an election, when nomination papers require to be issued or a member of the Parish can be co-opted on to the Parish Council.
A notice of vacancy is posted in the Parish Ward as soon as possible after the vacancy occurs. A request to fill the vacancy by election can then be made within fourteen days of the date of the Notice of Vacancy, by ten electors of the Parish Ward. Such a request has to be made in writing to the Returning Officer at Colchester Borough Council. It can take the form of a single letter with ten signatures or ten individual letters. If no such request is made then the Parish Council can co-opt to fill the vacancy. Each Parish Council has its own procedures for Co-option. The Co-option Policy for Wakes Colne Can be viewed under Council Policies on its website.
What is a Parish Council and why become a
What is a Parish Council?
A parish council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in the parish. It is the level of government closest to the community.
As it is the authority closest to the people, parish councils are invariably the first place people will go with concerns or ideas. For this reason they are a vital part of any community.
What powers do parish councils have?
They have a wide range of powers which are essentially related to local matters, such as looking after street lighting, bus shelters, community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas and much more.
The council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept. The precept is the parish council’s share of the council tax. The precept demand goes to the Borough Council which is the billing authority, which collects the tax for the parish council.
Why become a Parish Councillor?
By becoming a Parish Councillor you become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support, a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve. Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride.
What decisions do Parish Councils make?
Parish councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community. Probably the most common topics that parish councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), crime prevention, managing open spaces (if owned by the Parish Council) and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities.
It’s true to say that on their own, parish councils have limited powers to make decisions. But they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the borough council, health authorities, police etc).
In this respect parish councils are extremely powerful. The organisations that make the final decisions know that a parish council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something, and its views will be taken seriously.
How much time does it take up?
Councils usually meet once a month for the council meeting, to which members of the public are also invited. Meetings may last two or three hours, depending on the agenda set for the meeting to discuss. Some councils have committees or working groups to deal with specific subjects, such as highway issues or maintenance of footpaths. In addition to the regular meetings, Councillors are required to attend other meeting representing the council, for example, acting as a representative on an outside body, community activities or helping develop a new project for the community.
How long does a Parish Councillor serve for?
Once elected, Parish Councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.
Am I eligible to be a Parish Councillor?
To stand for election on a parish council, you must:
- be a UK or commonwealth citizen; or
- be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland; or
- be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union;
- be a least 18 years old.
To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:
- be an elector of the parish; or
- for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish: or
- during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work); or
- for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary.
You don’t have to be connected to a political party.
If you do become a Parish Councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct which sets out how a Parish Councillor must conduct him or herself during their period of time as an elected Parish Councillor.
Duties and Functions of Wakes Colne Parish Council
Wakes Colne Parish Council has seven Councillors who stand for election every four years. The duties and functions of a parish council are many and varied.
The Council meets monthly and considers planning applications and any other matters referred to it by local residents. All meetings are open to the public and there is a forum before the start of the meeting at which members of the public can raise concerns and ask questions. There is also an annual meeting to which all parishioners are invited.
All meetings and minutes of the meetings are advertised on the council notice boards located adjacent to the Post Office, Colchester Road and at the junction of Middle Green and Inworth Lane. They are also published on the Parish Council’s website. http://www.essexinfo.net/wakescolne/
Residents can bring to the attention of the Parish Council any issues that concern them, either through the Parish Clerk or through a Councillor. If matters raised are not the responsibility of the council, the clerk can bring them to the attention of the proper authority.