Parish Councillors are elected, by people who live in the area, to represent the parish as a whole. Most parish elections are on the same cycle as district or borough elections, with elections in 2011, 2015, 2019 and so on. Whilst some larger councils are run along party political lines, there is no expectation that you have to join a political party - Austrey Parish Council is not split by party politics.
Sometimes a vacancy occurs outside the regular cycle through, for example, the resignation of an existing Parish Councillor. In such instances, the Parish Council issues a notice of vacancy on the parish noticeboard at the shop, on the website and on Facebook/Austrey Updates. After the expiry of a statutory period, the vacancy then becomes open to ‘co-option’ – this effectively means it is open to anyone in the Parish who wishes to put their name forward.
Once a name or names have been received, co-option is put on the agenda for the next council meeting. A vote is then taken by the existing Parish Councillors to select a person from those names put forward.
What are the criteria?
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and be involved in real change. It helps if you're a "people person" who enjoys talking to other residents but, more importantly, you need to have the concerns and best interests of the parish as a whole at heart. Councillors are community leaders and should represent the aspirations of the public that they serve.
There is no need for previous experience of local government, and training and support is available for those who need it. The below list is not comprehensive (there are some disqualifications relating to candidacy too complex to outline here), but the main requirements and qualities needed to be a Parish Councillor are:
A British subject or Irish citizen
On the electoral register for Austrey (although there are certain exceptions)
Able to attend regular evening meetings
Have an interest in local issues and things which affect people.
Keen to improve the local environment and quality of life.
Have an understanding and willingness to represent the views of the whole community.
An interest in learning and developing your role in the community
How much time does it take up & when?
On average, probably 2-3 hours per week. Obviously there are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less. Council meetings are always held in the evening – as are most meetings of the other groups which councillors attend on the Council’s behalf.
How to find out more:
Contact the Parish Clerk, or any Parish Councillor for more information.