Becoming A Parish Councillor

What Is A Parish Council?

Parish Councils are the first tier of governance and are the first point of contact for anyone concerned with a community issue. They are democratically elected local authorities and exist in England, Wales and Scotland.

Why Become A Parish Councillor?

By becoming a parish councillor you become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support – a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.

What Decisions Do Parish Councils Make?

Parish Councils make all kinds of decisions on issues that affect the local community. Probably the most common topics that Parish Councils get involved with are planning matters (they are statutory consultees), village maintenance and parks & recreation.

Parish Councils have limited powers to make decisions but they do have the ability to negotiate with, and the power to influence, those other organisations that do make the final decisions (such as the district or county council, health authorities, police etc.). In this respect Parish Councils are extremely powerful. The organisations that make the final decisions know that a Parish Council gives the best reflection of how a community feels about something and its views will be taken seriously.

How Much Time Does Being A Councillor Take Up?

Hambleton Parish Council usually meets on the second Thursday of each month to which members of the public are also invited. Meetings are planned to last two hours, depending on what’s on the list of items to discuss. Hambleton Parish Council also has a number of sub-committees to deal with specific subjects, such as planning matters.

In addition to the ordinary meetings Councillors are required to give time for extra-ordinary or ad hoc meetings – for example with architects or agents to discuss planning applications that the council must give its opinions on.

How Long Does A Parish Councillor Serve For?

Once elected, Parish Councillors sit on the Parish Council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.

This does not mean that you have to stay for four years. If you find it’s not for you, or you can no longer meet the commitment, you can stand down.

Am I Eligible To Be A Parish Councillor?

To stand for election to become a parish councillor you must be:

  • At least 18 years old on the day of your nomination, and
  • A British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any other member state of the European Union

You must also meet at least one of the following four qualifications:

  • You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the parish in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards
  • You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the parish area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election
  • Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the parish area
  • You have lived in the parish area of within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election

Disqualifications from standing

There are certain people who are disqualified from being elected to a parish or community council in England and Wales.

You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on the day of the election, any of the following are true:

  • You are employed by the parish council or hold a paid office under the parish/community council (including joint boards or committees),
  • You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order,
  • You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day
  • You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations) or under the Audit Commission Act 1998

A person may also be disqualified from election if they have been disqualified from standing for election to a local authority following a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Adjudication Panel for England or Wales).

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