Empowering Parish and Town Councils in Northamptonshire

9 Top Reasons to Stand For Election - #9

9 Top Reasons to Stand For Election - #9

Are you thinking of standing to be a parish or town councillor in the elections on 7 May 2015? The deadline to submit your nomination papers is 4pm TODAY, Thursday 9 April 2015.

In the run up to today's deadline we've been looking at Nine Top Reasons to Stand for Election.

Number 9 - It's Democracy!

Ultimately, being elected to public office is all about democracy, and democracy is the life blood of all councils whether parish, town, borough, district or county.

Winston Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." and so whilst it's not 100% perfect 100% of the time democracy is what makes councils different.

The fact that the members of a parish or town council are elected, and can be booted out by the people every fours years, is one of the three legs of the stool. The other legs are that parish and town councils are statutory bodies (created by law) and that they have the power to levy a tax (the precept) on the council tax payers in the area. If any one of these legs is removed the stool becomes shaky, so it is very important that parish and town councils have a strong elected mandate.

If there are less candidates for election than seats available then there is still an election, but it is an uncontested one. All those standing are declared elected uncontested. Any vacant seats following the election can be filled by a different process called co-option, where members of the council choose who to fill the vacancy. A co-opted councillor is no less a councillor than one elected, but in the eyes of the public a council that has several co-opted members does not hold the same democratic mandate as one derived through a hotly contested election.

It is bizarre that councils that are left with vacancies following an election normally have no problem filling the seats by co-option afterwards. It might be that the candidates for co-option are responding to the urgent need, or more likely that they did not wish to expose themselves to the scrutiny of the electoral process. Certainly standing for election is not without its risks - after all the electorate might not vote for you - but it is a time for putting the interests of your community and council first, and those interests are best served if there is a strong contest at the elections.

Please consider standing to be a parish or town councillor. You'll be very glad you did!

If you live in Northamptonshire you'll find the contact details for all parish and town councils here. Get in touch with the Clerk and they will tell you how you can stand for election.

Posted: Thu, 09 Apr 2015 07:00 by Danny Moody

Tags: Elections