Election process to become a parish councillor

Parish councillors are elected by the public and serve four-year terms. Following elections, councils appoint a chair, or town mayor in town councils. Parish councillors were unpaid positions until 2004 when allowance schemes were introduced to encourage more people to stand. Allowances, which tend not to be very large are at the discretion of the individual councils and they often choose to maintain a strictly unpaid status.

The election procedure

Ordinary elections of local councillors take place on the first Thursday in May every four years. For example, if a local council's election year was 2019, then its next local council election will be in 2023. However, where the principal authority (county, district and unitary authority) councillor is elected in some other year, that is also the year of the local council election.

Reorganisation of local government may cause alteration of the election day and election year in some cases.

The election timetable is as follows:

Publication of notice of electionNot later than the twenty-fifth day before the day of election
Delivery of nomination papersNot later than 16:00 on the nineteenth day before the day of election
Delivery of notices of withdrawals of candidatureNot later than 16:00 on the nineteenth day before the day of election
Publication of statement as to persons nominatedNot later than 16:00 on the eighteenth day before the day of election
Notice of pollNot later than the sixth day before the day of election
PollingBetween the hours of 07:00 and 22:00 on the day of election

Nomination process

A prospective candidate must deliver a valid nomination paper to the Returning Officer. This form is obtained from the Officer.

The candidate's surname, forenames, residence and description (if required) must be entered and his or her number and prefix letter from the current register of electors. The Returning Officer has a copy of this register, as does the clerk of the local council.

The nomination paper must also contain similar particulars of a proposer and a seconder. They must be electors for the area for which the candidate seeks election. This means the parish, community or town or the ward if it is divided into wards. They must also sign it.

What next?

The Returning Officer appointed by a principal authority (district, borough, county or unitary authority) is the person responsible for the conduct and arrangement of community, parish and town council elections. If you are considering becoming a candidate for election, it could be wise to contact the Returning Officer to obtain any more detailed information. 

What if the election is years in the future?

If a seat becomes vacant mid-term (or if there are not enough candidates to fill all council seats at election time), the council will hold a by-election. In certain circumstances the council may then co-opt members to the council.

Further information

If you need any further information, please contact your local community, parish or town council.

Alternatively, you cancontact the Norfolk Association of Local Councils. Additional information on becoming a councillor can be found at theNational Association of Local Councils.

Last updated: 16/09/2022 13:11:51