Nominations week in by-election

There are only a few days left now for candidates to be nominated for the Draycott Parish Council by-election. Nomination forms must be properly filled in and handed in by 4pm this Friday (10th March) to be valid.

(A parish council is the most local bit of all local government in this country. Incidentally, despite the name, it has nothing to do with any church organisation…)

Standing for election in this parish area

Any adult (18 years or older) who lives in (or near), regularly works in (even voluntary-work), or owns land or property in Draycott, Cresswell, Totmonslow or Newton is entitled to stand for election to Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council.
(There are a few exceptions to this rule – see Electoral Guide).
There is no charge for standing at an election to a parish council…

This means that: someone who lives in Stoke but works in Cresswell is eligible; someone who lives in Stafford but who owns land in Totmonslow is eligible; someone who lives in Uttoxeter but who carries out regular voluntary work in Draycott is eligible; and someone who lives just over the parish border (in, say, Blythe Bridge) is eligible. Surprising – but true!
For more details, see the Electoral Commission page
However, you must also be on the electoral roll to stand (though you do not have to have your voter registration in this particular district, it can be anywhere in the UK).

No experience needed…

* You need no qualifications or experience to stand for or sit on a parish council.
*You do not have to be a member of a political party, or any grouping at all…
*You do not even have to be British born
*The duties of a councillor are not that difficult: you make of it what you want to.  The simple minimum is that you should try to attend a monthly meeting (except August) of the council.
*You can withdraw off the council whenever you wish.
*You do not have to pay any money to be on a parish council (but you receive no income either).
The Electoral Commission has an easy to read guide on the whole business.

To stand or not to stand

Some community leaders, as you may know, have expressed real concern over the prospect of a by-election this year.
If a ballot is held, it’s estimated the cost could be as high as £4000; and Draycott Parish Council will have to foot that bill, quite a burden.  (All councils nowadays are responsible for their own elections, and must keep cash in reserve for just such an eventuality).
So… some community leaders are asking potential candidates to consider carefully before they decide to stand.

If more than one candidate is nominated by the end of Friday, a by-election will be automatically triggered.  If only one (or none) is announced, obviously no election is necessary and so there is no need to spend the £4000.
As far as we know at this point (7pm on Monday) only one person, Roger Leach (the Cresswell Speedwatch organiser) has announced he is definitely standing.
However, any candidate can also withdraw their candidacy even after they announce it – but they must do it in person by 4pm this Friday.

Co-option

The debate has caused some friction on the village Facebook site; and it is hard to know what to suggest to people who feel they really do want to contribute to their community by being a parish councillor.  Their next opportunity will not be until May 2019.

One thing that has been suggested is that the current Draycott councillors could say publicly whom they are likely to ‘co-opt’, if the post were vacant.  (Co-option occurs when no candidates are nominated).
If the community knew whom the councillors would choose, then other candidates might agree to the council’s choice; and withdraw. Possibly…
However, the councillors have been silent on the matter so far.

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