Dorstone Parish Council

When a casual vacancy occurs on a parish council, a request in writing can be made, within 14 days of a display of a notice, by 10 electors of the parish to hold an election.
If no request is made the Electoral Services office from Herefordshire Council will confirm to the Clerk, in writing, that the casual vacancy can be filled through the co-option process. 
The Parish Council must, therefore, as soon as practicable after the expiry of the 14-day period fill the vacancy by co-option of a suitably qualified volunteer (see eligibility rules below). 
The exception to this rule is in the case of a casual vacancy occurring within six months of the day on which the councillor would normally have retired from office (i.e. four days after the next ordinary election). In these circumstances, the Parish Council would wait until the next scheduled by-election. 
On receipt of written confirmation from Electoral Services, the Parish Clerk will: 

a) Advertise the vacancy for four weeks on the PC’s noticeboards and web site. 
b) Advise Dorstone Parish councillors the Co-option Policy has been instigated. 

Dorstone PC is not obliged to fill any vacancy and therefore even if it invites application for co-option, it is not compelled to select anyone from the candidates who apply. 
However, it is not desirable that electors in a parish are left partially or fully under-represented for any significant length of time and this status would also not be beneficial for the effective and efficient workings of the council. 

Councillors elected by co-option are full members of the Parish Council. 

Dorstone PC may consider any person to fill a vacancy provided that: 
• He/she is an elector for the parish; or 
• Has resided in the parish for the past twelve months or rented/tenanted land or other premises in the parish; or 
• Had his/her principal place of work in the parish; or 
• Has lived within three miles (direct) of the parish. 

There are certain factors specified in section 80 of the 1972 Act that disqualify a person from being eligible for election/co-option as a parish councillor, namely: 
• Holding a paid office under the local authority 
• Bankruptcy 
• Having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) of not less than 3 months, without the option of a fine during the 5 years preceding the election; and 
• Being disqualified under any enactment relating to corrupt or illegal practices. 

In addition, candidates found to be offering inducements of any kind will be disqualified from consideration. 


Members may point out the vacancies and the process to any qualifying candidate(s). 
Although there is no statutory requirement to do so, candidates will be requested to: 
• Confirm their eligibility for the position of councillor within the statutory rules by completing the eligibility confirmation as part of the co-option application form 
• Submit information about themselves, with reference to the co-option application form and subject to the Parish Council’s Data Protection Policy 

Following receipt of applications, the next suitable parish council meeting will have an agenda item ‘To receive written applications for the office of Parish Councillor and to co-opt a candidate to fill the existing vacancy’. 
Copies of the candidates’ applications will be circulated to all Councillors by the Clerk at least 3 clear days prior to the meeting of the Council, when the co-option will be considered. 
All such documents will be treated by the Clerk and all Councillors as Strictly Private and Confidential. 
Candidates will be sent a full agenda of the meeting at which they are to be considered for appointment. Candidates will also be informed that they will be invited to speak about their application at the meeting. 


 If a candidate is a relative of a Councillor or has connections with any candidate which may be perceived as prejudicial, that Councillor should declare an interest and withdraw from the meeting. Under any of these circumstances a vote by the Councillor concerned is not allowed.

At the co-option meeting, candidates will be given five minutes maximum to introduce themselves to Members, give information on their background and experience and explain why they wish to become a Member of Dorstone PC

The process will be carried out by adjourning the meeting to allow the candidate(s) to speak. 
Where the Council wishes to discuss the merits of candidates and inevitably their personal attributes, this could be prejudicial, and the Council will resolve to exclude the members of the press and public for a short period. 
As soon as all candidates have finished giving their submissions, the council will proceed to a vote on the acceptability of each candidate utilising the application form criteria and any supporting personal statements provided by candidates, with each candidate being proposed and seconded by the councillors in attendance and a vote by a show of hands. 

The Chairman will then place the names of those nominated into alphabetical order and proceed to vote. Councillors will have one vote per vacancy to be filled. The vote will be recorded to show whether each Councillor present and voting gave his/her vote for or against that question. 

For a candidate to be elected to Dorstone PC, it will be necessary for them to obtain an absolute majority of votes cast (50% + 1 of the votes available at the meeting). If there are more than two candidates and there is no candidate with an overall majority in the first round of voting, the candidate with the least number of votes will drop out of the process. Further rounds of voting will then take place with the process repeated until a candidate has an absolute majority. Any tie may be settled by the Chairman’s casting vote. 
After voting has been concluded, the Chairman will declare the successful candidate(s) duly elected and after signing their declaration of acceptance of office, they may take their seat immediately. The Clerk will provide the new councillor(s) with copies of the Code of Conduct. 
The Clerk will notify Electoral Services of the new Councillor appointment(s). The successful candidate(s) must complete the ‘Registration of Interests’ declaration within 28 days of being elected. The form should be handed to the Clerk for forwarding to the Monitoring Officer. 
If insufficient candidates come forward for co-option, the process should continue, whereby the vacancies are again advertised.

Adopted by Dorstone Parish Council  13th October 2021