The basic requirements to become a Town Councillor are:
Individuals must also satisfy a connection with the local community area for which they are to be a councillor, with one or more of the following:
- Registered as a Local Government elector for that community; or
- During the whole of the 12 months occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in that community; or
- Principal or only place of work during that 12 months has been in that community; or
- During the whole of those 12 months resided in that community or within 4.8 Kilometres of it.
The Local Government Act 1972, Section 79 – 81 provides an exhaustive list of disqualifications in in becoming a Town Councillor. In brief, these are:
- Holds any paid office or employment appointments or elections to which are or may be made or confirmed by the local authority; or
- Is subject of a bankruptcy restrictions or interim order; or
- Within five years before election day or since been convicted in the UK of any offence and has passed a sentence of imprisonment for no less than three months without the option of a fine; or
- Is disqualified for being elected or for being a member of that authority under part III of the RPA 1983. There are exceptions – e.g. being a teacher, or employed in a school or educational institution maintained or assisted by a county council for being a member of a district council.
At the close of nominations for elections, if there are not enough validly nominated candidates, an election for the Town Council will not be held and those candidates who are validly nominated are elected.
The filling of the unfilled seats depends on whether the Town Council is quorate or not. If the Town Council is quorate, i.e. at least one third (7 out of 19 seats) of the total council seats are filled, the elected councillors may co-opt others to fill the remaining seats.
If, however, after 35 working days from the date that would have been polling day (if contested) the council has not filled all of the vacancies by co-option, the principal council may use their powers.
However, if the Town Council is not quorate after the ordinary election, they may not proceed with co-option (or indeed carry out any other business). In this case, the principal council (BCBC) may use their powers which include:
- by order make direct appointments of people as parish or community councillors
- do anything necessary or expedient for the proper holding of the parish or community council meeting and properly constituting the council
- direct a new election is held to fill remaining vacancies, and fix the election date
The principal council must not exercise this power within 35 working days of the ordinary date of election and may allow the Town Council a period longer than 35 working days to fill vacancies by co-option.