Pre-election event for Bexhill-on-Sea Parish Council – Wednesday 24th February
You can view the meeting on 24th February via YouTube: Pre-election event for Bexhill-on-Sea Parish Council or register to take part in the virtual meeting by emailing email@example.com
A copy of the programme for the event can be found here.
What is a Local Council?
Within the Rother district most areas are served by Parish and Town Councils and these are collectively known as Local Councils but Bexhill-on-Sea has never before had its very own council since 1974 when the old Bexhill Borough Council was abolished. That is all set to change on 1st April 2021.
In terms of structure, Local Councils are the first and closest tier of local government to the people. County and District Councils are known as principal authorities and provide services such as education, planning and refuse collection on a wider scale, whereas Parish and Town Councils serve smaller areas and are responsible for more local matters and community needs and can include:
street lighting, local transport and traffic services, allotments, cemeteries, recreation grounds, war memorials, seating and shelters, rights of way, leisure amenities, sports provision, community safety, affordable housing, tourist information centres, litter and dog bins.
Rother District Council will automatically transfer Allotments to the new Council and it is anticipated other services will be transferred in due course when the new Council has settled but this will all depend on the wishes of the residents of Bexhill. The new Council will be undertaking a Visioning Exercise with a view to producing a Business Plan.
Local Council Members
Local Councillors are elected by the public and usually serve four-year terms. On 6th May 2021 Councillors will be elected but will serve just two years so in 2023 there will be another election for the Local Council which will bring it in line with the District Council elections. Councillors from both tiers will then serve for the regular term of four years.
Following the election this year the Council must appoint a Chairman and it will also decide whether to take on the name of Town Council and if this is the case then the Chairman would become Town Mayor.
To be a Local Councillor requires time and commitment. Depending on the size and activity of the Council, at least one evening per month must be set aside for council duties and more time for members of a permanent or short-term committee.
The responsibilities of a Local Council
Local Councils have a number of responsibilities, including: representing the whole electorate within the parish; delivering services to meet local needs; and striving to improve quality of life in the parish.
The Council is also the first point of contact for aspiring community projects. It is their responsibility to help get schemes underway by providing funding and building space.
The new Council must also request to be notified of all planning applications within the parish so it may consider them and make observations to Rother District Council or sometimes to East Sussex County Council. Parliament also granted Local Councils the powers to spend public money that they raise through the parish precept. The power of precept is a major responsibility, one which is not available to charitable organisations.
Becoming a Local Councillor
All Local Council meetings are open to the public. They are led by the Council’s Chairman or Mayor and advised by a Clerk who is there to see that business is conducted within the law.
Councillors contribute to the work of the Council by:
- Having a say about things they care about
- Putting forward ideas for better services
- Responding to the needs and views of their constituents
- Acting within the law
- Seeking the best outcome to local issues
- Getting involved in decision making by voting
- Accepting the corporate view of the Council
An individual councillor (including the Chairman/Mayor) cannot make a decision on behalf of the Council. Working together, within a set of rules and acting as a team to get the best possible outcome for the community is therefore the key to the success of the Council and the basis for a rewarding contribution.
It is important that Councillors are familiar with the way Councils work, the role of individual Councillors and the legal powers and duties that are bestowed on Councils. Similarly, the role of the Clerk to the Council has to be clearly understood.
Am I qualified?
To be eligible to stand as a candidate at a local council you must be:
- A British citizen or an eligible citizen of the Commonwealth or of any member state of the EU; and
- On the ‘relevant date’ (i.e. the day of the election) be 18 years of age or over.
And additionally 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 or within three miles of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
You cannot stand if you:
- You are employed by the parish council or hold a paid office under the local 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). The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date the person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years. The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.
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 the Adjudication Panel for Wales.
I am not a member of a political party and do not want to be
Most parish and town councillors are not party political – and many who are tied to one party as a Councillor for another sector, do not stand as a political candidate for their Local Council. However, in some larger towns, the Councils are run on political lines. If you wish to stand as a party political candidate, you are also welcome to do so.
What do Councillors do?
Councillors have three main components to their work.
- Decision making – through meetings and attending committees with other elected members, Councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented.
- Monitoring – Councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working.
- Getting involved locally – as local representatives, Councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. These responsibilities and duties often depend on what the Councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available, and may include:
- Going to meetings of local organisations such as tenants’ association.
- Going to meetings of bodies affecting the wider community.
- Taking up issues on behalf of members of the public.
- Running a surgery for residents to bring up issues.
- Meeting with individual residents in their own homes.
The election process
Ordinary elections of Local Councillors take place on the first Thursday in May every four years. However, this is the first time residents have had a chance to vote for Councillors to represent them on the Bexhill-on-Sea Local Council.
The election timetable is as follows:
- Publication of notice of election: not later than the twenty-fifth working day before the day of poll (Monday 29 March 2021).
- Delivery of Nomination papers: From the date and time stated on the notice of election until 4pm on the nineteenth working day before polling day (Thursday 8 April 2021)
- Delivery of notices of withdrawals of candidature: not later than 4pm on the nineteenth working day before polling day (Thursday 8 April 2021).
- Publication of a list of candidates: not later than 4pm on the eighteenth working day before polling day (Friday 9 April 2021).
- Publication of notice of poll: not later than the sixth day before polling day (Thursday 27 April 2021).
- Deadline for notification of appointment of polling and counting agents: five working days before polling day (Wednesday 28 April 2021).
- Polling day: between 7am and 10pm on Thursday 6 May 2021.
In calculating the timetable Bank Holidays and weekends are disregarded.
A prospective candidate must deliver a completed set of nomination papers to the place stated by the Returning Officer by 4pm on the 19th working day before the poll. This deadline is set out in law and cannot be changed for any reason. The start date from which you will be able to submit nomination papers, as well as the times and place for delivery, will be set out in the notice of election published by the Returning Officer.
There are three main nomination papers that you must submit for your nomination to be valid:
- the nomination form
- a home address form
- your consent to nomination
You can obtain nomination papers from the local elections office. The Returning Officer will be able to offer informal checks of your completed nomination papers before you submit them. Note that any information you provide on your nomination papers must be true to the best of your knowledge. It is an offence to provide a false statement on your nomination papers. Providing a false statement could invalidate your election, and is punishable by an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your nomination papers are delivered in the correct manner and by the required deadlines. The nomination form, the home address form and consent to nomination must be delivered by hand and cannot be submitted by post, fax, email or other electronic means.
After you have submitted your nomination papers you will be sent a notice by the Returning Officer to let you know whether or not your nomination is valid.
The Returning Officer appointed by Rother District Council is the person responsible for the conduct and arrangement for the Local Council election. If you are considering becoming a candidate for election it could be wise to contact the elections office at Rother District Council to obtain more detailed information. The elections office can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01424 787000.