Want to Become a Parish/Town Councillor?

What is a Parish/Town Council?

A town/parish Council is the tier of local authority closest to its community as it elects representatives from within that community.

Who can become a Councillor?

Anyone can stand as a candidate provided they meet the qualification requirements (set out lower down this page).

How much will it cost?

Parish/town Councils are entitled to levy a 'precept' from their area.  This covers the running costs for the councils such as: election costs, local services, staff salaries and accommodation, (if the Clerk does not work from home).

How will the Council be accountable?

The decisions of the parish/town council are made by those councillors who have been elected - or if not enough candidates stand - co-opted to the council.

Council meetings are open to the public and parish/town councils must hold one meeting per year which is a meeting for the whole parish known as the Annual Parish Meeting

What is the difference between a Town/Parish Council?

When a local council is created it is referred to as a parish council, however, Councils can now decide on whether they should be called a parish, town, neighbourhood or community council. 

They still have the same powers and duties but a town council can choose to elect a town mayor instead of a chairman.

Who will run the Council?

Parish/town council elections are held every 4 years.

Councillors, (who cannot be deselected during those four years), are the decision making body for the council.

If there are insufficient nominations - a Council may have no choice but to co-opt non elected members. 

Does the Council employ any staff?

A clerk (the proper officer) is appointed to advise councillors, answer enquiries and manage the administration of the council.

At higher tiers, the Clerk would be equivalent to the Chief Executive.

Many small parishes only employ a Clerk but larger councils can have a number of staff, depending on how many functions they undertake e.g. running cemeteries, village halls.

Do I qualify to stand for election?

You should be:

  • Aged over 18 
  • A British, Commonwealth Citizen or Euronational Citizen (who is a registered elector
  • Resident for 12 months prior to the day of election - either in the parish or within 3 miles of the boundary
  • Occupied land or premises for 12 months as owner or tenant - either in the parish or within 3 miles of the boundary
  • Had a principal place of work - either in the parish or within 3 miles of the boundary

You cannot become a Councillor if:

  • You hold a paid office with the Council.
  • If you are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or an interim order creates disqualification which dates from the judgement or execution and generally ends one year after the relevant order is made
  • If you have within five years before the election or since election been convicted in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man of any offence and been sentenced to not less than three months imprisonment (whether suspended or not) without the option of a fine  (Imprisonment probably includes any type of custodial sentence).

This disqualification begins when the ordinary period for making an appeal is finally dismissed or abandoned or fails for want of prosecution

Where can I get further information?

Staffordshire Parish Councils' Association

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