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).
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)