HARBERTON PARISH COUNCIL
NOTICE OF CASUAL VACANCIES
Join our local team and become a Parish Councillor
Are you passionate about your community? Do you want to help make a long-lasting change? Do you have innovative ideas for the council? Do you have concerns about a specific issue and want to do something about it? If this is you, then we need you. We need people from all backgrounds and experiences who reflect their community to put themselves forward for co-option to the Parish Council.
Following the 2023 Local Council Election process and co-option in May there are still 3 vacancies on Harberton Parish Council; 1 in the ward of Harberton and 2 in the ward of Harbertonford. The Parish Council is seeking to fill these vacancies by co-option at the ordinary meeting of the Parish Council as soon as possible.
No special qualification is required to be a councillor. It is important that all sorts of people serve as councillors to so that all parts of the community are represented. Training for new councillors is also available to help you understand the responsibilities of the role.
If you think you’d like to join the Parish Council or would like to know more, please get in touch with the clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is happy to talk with you about the role and what’s involved.
If more people indicate their interest in becoming a Parish Councillor than the number of vacancies available, candidates will be asked to give a short statement about why they are interested in the role, and the Parish Council will make their decision by a majority vote.
What do Parish Councillors do?
Harberton Parish Council is made up of 12 voluntary councillors, 6 from the Harberton Ward and 6 from the Harbertonford Ward. They meet once a month to discuss and act on issues that are important to the local community.
The Parish Council sets a proportion of local taxes to be spent in the Parish, comments on planning applications in the Parish and run projects that help maintain, improve or enhance the local area. Local Government is changing and Parish Councils are seeing an increase in the responsibilities and opportunities to influence decisions made that affect our local community.
Becoming a councillor is a rewarding experience as you will be able to make a change in your community to help improve residents’ lives.
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), crime prevention, helping local groups, managing open spaces and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities.
It’s true to say that on their own, 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 it take up?
Councils usually meet once a month for the council meeting, to which members of the public are also invited. Meetings may last two or three hours, depending on the agenda set for the meeting to discuss. Some councils have committees to deal with specific subjects, such as developing a Neighbourhood Plan or supporting environmental issues. In addition to the regular meetings, councillors are required to attend other meetings representing the council, for example acting as a representative on an outside body, community activities or helping develop a new project for the community. Such meetings won’t happen every day, so it’s not going to take over your life.
How long does a parish councillor serve for?
Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.
Applicants should note that Councillors are expected to attend regular meetings and any additional meetings as may be arranged, and to represent the electors of Harberton Parish in raising and discussing those issues of interest and concern on which the Parish Council is empowered to act.
Am I eligible to be a Parish Councillor?
You have to be:
- a British subject, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union
- over 18 years of age
and additionally you have to be one of the following
- a local government elector for the council area for which you want to stand
- have during the whole of the 12 months occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the council area or within 3 miles of it for the whole period
- have during that same period had your principal or only place of work in the council area or within 3 miles of it for the whole period.
You cannot stand for election if you
- are subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order.
- have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine.
- you work for the council you want to become a councillor for (but you can work for other local authorities, including the principal authorities that represent the same area).
You don’t have to be connected to a political party.
If you do become a parish councillor you will have to sign up to the Code of Conduct.
What powers do parish councils have?
They have a wide range of powers which essentially related to local matters, such as looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and much more. The council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept. The precept is the parish council’s share of the council tax. The precept demand goes to the billing authority, the district council, which collects the tax for the parish council.
Don’t take our word for it!
The best way to find out what it’s like to be a parish councillor is to talk to someone who’s doing it now.
Come along to a parish council meeting, or speak to one of our councillors and find out what they think of the job.
Please see the following resources for more information:
All About Town and Parish Councils prepared by The National Association of Local Authorities (NALC)
It takes all sorts prepared by NALC in 2011 as part of a drive to encourage individuals from under represented groups to become local councillors.
Make a Change, Become a Councillor Campaign from NALC to encourage people from all backgrounds to put themselves forward to join Parish and Town Councils. The site includes a number of short films collated where you can hear from Parish Councillors about why they joined their council and what difference they hope to make.