Want to be a local councillor?

The sudden resignation of a councillor from off the Draycott area council three weeks ago means that there is now a spare seat on the council.

Very often, such vacancies are filled by simple ‘co-option’, but the residents (of Draycott, Cresswell and Totmonslow) can now also call for a by-election if they’d like.
What’s the difference between the two?

Co-option means that the sitting councillors simply approach a person in the neighbourhood that they respect and ask them if they’d like to take the vacancy.  This often happens in districts where very few people want to be on the council!
The problem with co-option is obvious. In many cases where this happens across the country, councillors simply choose someone who they think will fit in neatly in with their own attitudes, instead of choosing someone with an independent mind of their own.
However, when it works properly, it is the best, cheapest and quickest alternative.

The Election alternative is straightforward.  If residents don’t trust the councillors to pick a reasonable candidate by co-option OR they want a particular individual to get a fair crack at a council seat, they can go down the election route.   In the world of parish councils, all that this requires is for ten electors of the district to apply to the relevant official (at Moorlands Office in Leek, in our case, by February 13th).
If that happens, we have an election on our hands. (Of course, if only one person comes forward to stand, then he or she is automatically elected, without a need for a full ballot).

Draycott Council vacancy notice
As soon as we know if a group of ten qualified people (local electors in essence) has called an election, we’ll get something on the village Facebook page.


The question of the vacancy seems to have caused a bit of irritation among the sitting councillors of Draycott Council.
When the vacancy was announced at the last meeting of the council, and an election was listed as one of the options for residents, one councillor said: “… if anybody is stupid enough to call one…”  …!    As you can guess, this was thought to be inappropriate; and when he didn’t explain what he meant, he was asked to withdraw the remark, which he refused to do.
It was a very odd remark from this particular councillor, as he sits on the council himself only as the result of an election, and he also encouraged a candidate to stand at the last by-election…!

What about cost?   Fortunately, the Clerk of The Council has done a good job with the council’s budget in recent years and there is an ‘election reserve’ in place, should the council have to fund a full-blown election.
Meanwhile, of course, co-option (or an election with only one candidate) costs next to zero.

Finally however, it’s also puzzling as to why a resignation letter from the councillor who has left, Jacquie Leach, has not been published.
Electors are entitled to think that their representatives will stay in place until the end of their elected term – unless something makes it impossible for them to continue.
We don’t actually yet know why Jacquie felt she had to resign.

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

2 responses to “Want to be a local councillor?

  1. As far as I am aware the legal process to replace a vacancy on a Parish Council is to:
    1. Advertise that a post is vacant
    2. Anyone interested puts themselves forward
    3. If only one person stands for the vacancy then he/she is automatically elected. If more than one person is interested then it goes to an election.
    I think it’s called DEMOCRACY
    Shelagh Wood, Resident and Chair VVSM


  2. If the council wishes to be seen as open and above board then they should explain the reason for the councillor’s retirement unless the retiree does not, for personal reasons, wish it to be known.
    Also, inappropriate remarks should be explained – but this particular one I think I can understand, given the “mixed” bunch on the council!
    Concerned resident


Write your comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.