Standing as a Councillor

Becoming a Councillor 

 

So you are interested in being a Town or Parish Councillor or a Central Bedfordshire Councillor!


Standing as a Councillor

So you want to be a Town or Parish Councillor | So you want to be a Central Beds Councillor | Obstacle for Working People Wanting to Stand for Central Beds Council


So you want to be Town or Parish Councillor?

Town and Parish Councils, like Ampthill, are the democratic bodies with the closest links to their communities. Town and Parish Councils are the first tier of Local Government. In addition to providing some services themselves, They can make a vital contribution toward the priorities contained within the community strategies, which are prepared by Central Beds Council.

Town and Parish Councils:

•    Act as a representative of all parts of the community
•    Work in partnership with the Unitary Councils, as well as other public service agencies
•    Deliver local services to the communities
•    Work closely with voluntary groups in the community
•    Give leadership in working towards a town plan
•    Act a an information point for local services

Examples of the types of services which Town and Parish Council provides are:-

•    Allotments
•    Car parks
•    Cemeteries
•    Footpaths and bridleways
•    Market
•    Street lighting
•    Town halls

The Town and Parish Councils make decisions at meetings, which are open to the public and press. As a matter of good practice the Council sets aside a period of 15 minutes at the start of each meeting so members of the public can have an opportunity to address the council. The duration of such meetings depends upon the amount of business that has to be dealt with at each meeting.

The Next Elections

Elections for all Town and Parish Councils in Central Bedfordshire are due to take place during May 2019 when Councillors will be elected to serve for the next four years.

The notes below are designed to help any person who may be interested in becoming a candidate for election as a Town or Parish Councillor.

Qualifications for Candidates

To stand as a candidate for election to a Town or Parish Council you must: -

  • Get two of your fellow electors to nominate you
  • Be 18 years of age on the day you are nominated as a candidate and  
  • Be included on the register of electors for the Town or Parish, or
  • Have owned or occupied land or premises within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or
  • Have worked within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or
  • Have lived within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or 
  • Have lived within three miles of the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated.

The first stage of the election process is the publication of the Notice of Election; The Notice of Election invites any person who wishes to stand as a candidate to submit nomination papers to the Returning Officer at Priory House, Chicksands. Nomination papers for those interested in standing for election will be available from the beginning of March from either the Returning Officer or the Clerk to the Town or Parish Council.

Persons wishing to stand as candidates must submit their completed nomination papers by no later than noon on the return date. It is advised that candidates deliver the nomination papers to the Returning Officer in person, so that they may be checked at the time of delivery. If this is not practicable then it is recommended that the nomination papers be sent well in advance so that if there is a problem the Returning Officer's staff will have an opportunity to return the papers for amendment with sufficient time for the candidate to re-submit the papers by the required deadline.

The Election Process

This can seem quite bewildering, so the Returning Officer issues guidance notes for candidates with each set of nomination papers. The notes are designed to help those who have no previous experience of being a candidate as well as those who have.

The guidance notes cover election expenses. This is the money spent by the candidate in providing any leaflets or other material to introduce themselves to the electors. This money may not be reclaimed, the candidate or their supporters must meet such costs themselves and there is a limit as to the maximum amount that may be spent.

Every candidate must make a return and declaration of the amount of their election expenses. Invoices and receipts must accompany the return, so it is a good idea to keep records of any expenditure during the election campaign. Not all candidates at Town and Parish elections incur election expenses, in which case a nil return and declaration should be made.

Whilst the guidance notes are comprehensive there may be need for additional help or advice. The Electoral Services Manager at Central Bedfordshire Council will be arranging the elections and can be contacted for further help or information.

Elections and Electoral Registration at Central Bedfordshire Council can be reached on 0300 300 8008 or visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

What Happens After the Election?

All candidates who are elected are required to sign various documents before they take up their duties.

The first document is a Declaration of Acceptance of Office. In signing this declaration the councillor agrees to be bound by a National Code of Conduct. In addition each newly elected town councillor must also make a declaration of interests, these include employment or business interests, property ownership and other matters which may be seen to have a bearing on the way in which a member of a town or parish council would vote. The declaration is retained by the parish clerk and is open to inspection by any local elector.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How long would my term of office be?

  • Your period of office will be four years.

How much time will I have to commit?

  • This is very much up to the individual and is dependant on other commitments. Ampthill's meetings are generally on a Wednesday (comprising a Full Council, Planning, Finance and Parks Meeting). Maulden's take place at the Baptist Church, Flitwick Road, on Mondays every six weeks. Clophill's take place every month on the last Tuesday of each month

Will I get paid?

  • Councillors are not paid. Councillors volunteer their time. All Councillors may claim for certain expenses including mileage allowance.

Will I get support and training?

  • New Councillors receive induction training via courses put on by Beds Association of Town & Parish Council and/or Central Bedfordshire Council.

Do I need to represent a political party?

  • Although most candidates do represent a political party, it is not a requirement and you can stand as an independent candidate. If you are thinking about standing as an Independent candidate a good source of information is the Politically Independent Candidate website at www.picx.co.uk or at Independents for Central Beds at www.independents4centralbeds.org.uk

Do you have to pay a fee to stand for the Town Council?

  • No

How many people have to nominate me to stand for my Parish or Town Council?

  • You will require the signatures of 2 other registered electors on your nomination papers.

 Ballot Box

So You Want To Be a Central Bedfordshire Unitary Councillor?

Ampthill Ward (Comprising Ampthill, Maulden & Clophill)

Electing 3 Councillors serving 5,269 households and 9,251 electors

Next Election: May 2019

Legal Requirements

To stand for election you must fulfill the following criteria on the day of nomination:

  • Get 10 fellow electors to nominate you
  • 18 years or over
  • UK, EU or Commonwealth citizen
  • Registered to vote in the Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority area or
  • Lived or worked in the area for 1 year
  • Owned or tenanted land or premises in the area for 1 year

You may not stand for election if:

  • You work for Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority
  • You hold a politically restricted post in another authority
  • You are bankrupt
  • You have served a prison sentence (including suspended sentences) of 3 months or more within the last 5 years
  • You have been disqualified under legislation relating to illegal or corrupt practices.

The Process

A Notice of Election will be published throughout the unitary authority area giving details of how to apply to stand for election. Nomination papers for those interested in standing for election are available from both Ampthill Town Council and Central Beds Council. You need to be nominated by 10 electors from the Ampthill, Maulden or Clophill and completed nomination papers must be submitted to the Counting Officer at Central Beds Council at Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Beds

Frequently Asked Questions

How many councillors will be elected to represent Ampthill, Maulden & Clophill?

  • 3

How long would my term of office be?

  • Your period of office will be 4 years, with fresh elections taking place in 2015, with subsequent elections then taking place every 4 years thereafter.

How much time will I have to commit?

  • This is very much up to the individual and is dependant on other commitments. As a new Councillor, you would attend Council meetings, have ward surgeries, undertake casework and become a member of at least one Committee. Once established, you might take on extra commitments such as being a member of a task force, becoming a committee vice-chairman, joining the Planning Committee or becoming a Member of the Executive. A recent survey of Members time commitment showed that the average time spent was 12 hours per week. This figure included Members of the Executive who are likely to spend a much more time than new Members.

When are meetings held?

  • Meetings start at various times of the day and evening and they normally last about 2-3 hours. Every Councillor is a member of at least one committee and is also expected to attend meetings of full Council.

Will I get paid?

  • All Councillors receive a basic annual allowance. All Councillors may claim for certain expenses including mileage allowance.

Will I get support and training?

  • New Councillors will be partnered with a mentor who will help them in all aspects of their new role. An Induction meeting will be held where new Councillors can meet with other Councillors, both new and experienced, learn about the authority and be introduced to the Chief Officers. A Training and Development scheme is available so that Councillors can receive the education and guidance they need to fulfil the role.

Do I need to represent a political party?

  • Although most candidates do represent a political party, it is not a requirement and you can stand as an independent candidate. If you are thinking about standing as an Independent candidate a good source of information is the Politically Independent Candidate website at www.picx.co.uk. or Independents for Central Bedfordshire website at www.independents4centralbeds.org.uk 

 

Obstacle for Working People Wanting to Stand for Central Beds Council

At the Thursday 12th June 2014 meeting of Central Beds Council I put the following motion to the council in the hope that by a change in the timings of meetings  this would enable more residents of working age to stand for the council, as I felt that as the majority of meetings were during the daytime this would prove a major obstacle for many. Perhaps this was intentional!

Here is the motion and a record of the subsequent vote from the minutes of that meeting and the details of those that voted for and against the motion, as I asked for a recorded vote:

Notice had been received from Councillor Smith of a Motion under Procedure Rule No 17 as follows: 

"With local council elections occurring in 2015, Central Bedfordshire Council wishes to attract the widest cross-section of candidates to stand for election. Currently, overview and scrutiny meetings are held during the day. This policy prevents those in employment from fully participating in the democratic processes of the Council. The majority of meetings in our neighbouring authorities commence between 6 and 7pm.

Commencing January 1, 2015 my motion to Council is that all Overview and Scrutiny meetings should take place after 6pm in the evening."

In accordance with paragraph 21.5 of Part B5 of the Council's Constitution 'Full Procedure Rules', a recorded vote was requested and granted.

Upon being put to the vote, those in favour of the motion were:

  • Councillors: Aldis, Egan, Goodchild, Graham, Murray, Shingler, Smith, Williams and Zerny.

 Those against the motion were:

  • Councillors: Barker,Bastable, Berry, Birt, Blair, Bowater, Brown, Chapman, Clark, Clarke, Collins, Costin, Dodwell, Drinkwater, Duckett, Gurney, Hegley, Jamieson, Janes, D Lawrence, J Lawrence, Matthews,McVicar, Mustoe, Nicols, B Saunders, J Saunders, Shadbolt, Sheppard, Sparrow, Spurr, Stay, A Turner, P Turner, Versallion, Wells, Wenham, Woodward and Young.

Councillor Coleman abstained from voting.

The motion was lost.

 All those that voted against the motion belonged to the Conservative Party!