Parish and Town Councils

​Parish and Town Councils –
Casual Vacancies and By Elections: FAQs

These FAQs are intended to answer questions about vacancies that might arise on Town and Parish Councils. They are not intended to apply to vacancies that might arise on the district council because different rules apply to the district council.

Throughout these FAQs, the Town and Parish Council areas are referred to as Parishes.

Why do casual vacancies arise?

There are usually three ways in which a vacancy arises. This is when the councillor either:

  • resigns,

  • dies, or

  • does not attend a parish council meeting for six months

It is also possible but less common for a vacancy to arise when a councillor decides not to accept their appointment; ceases to be qualified; or is disqualified

How do I know there is a casual vacancy?

Notices of vacancies are posted on the parish website and notice boards. They are also added to Wakefield council's website and notice boards.

Is there always an election?

No. An election is only held if 10 people who are registered as local government electors in the relevant parish (or parish ward if applicable) ask for an election to be held.

However, if the vacancy is in the six months before regular scheduled parish elections (held every four years from 2019) there will not be a separate election and the election for the vacancy is effectively combined with the scheduled election.

If fewer than 10 electors ask for an election then the council must co-opt a new member. If the vacancy is within the six months before a scheduled election then the council may co-opt a new member. The council can choose who it wants as a new member.

How do the council co-opt a member?

There is no set way that a council must choose a new member but it would be a good idea for it to advertise for, interview and then vote a new member on to the council. Whatever the council does, it must use an open and transparent process.

How is an election requested?

In Wakefield a request must come to Electoral Services. Requests can either be in the same document or can come separately. For convenience, electors can use the Request Form available in the 'Downloads' section of this page.

Written requests should be sent to Electoral Services, Room 45, County Hall, Bond Street, Wakefield, WF1 2QW.

It is also possible to request an election by email to elections@wakefield.gov.uk  (hyperlink) or by telephone to 01924 305023.

Every request must include the full name and address of the elector making the request so that their registration can be checked. All requests are open to inspection by the public.

How long do electors have to request an election?

Requests have to be received within 14 working days of the date of the notice of vacancy. To calculate the deadline, weekends, Bank Holidays and Good Friday are not counted as working days.

Who can request an election?

Only those people who are registered as Local Government electors within the relevant electoral area can request an election.

Example 1: if there is a vacancy on Upton Parish Council only electors registered to vote in local elections in that parish can request an election. Someone who is registered to vote in the North Elmsall Parish cannot make a valid request for an election.

Example 2: if there is a vacancy in the East Ward of Hemsworth Town Council only electors registered to vote in local elections in that ward can request an election. Someone who is registered to vote in the Kinsley ward of Hemsworth Town Council cannot make a valid request for an election.

What if an election is requested?

A Notice of Election will be published and a date set for the poll. If only one person is nominated as a candidate the will be elected without a poll. If more than one candidate is nominated then a poll will be held on a date set by the Returning Officer.

When will the election take place?

The election must usually be held within 60 days of the date that the vacancy arises.

At the moment, because of the current lockdown, no elections are being held until Thursday, 6 May 2021.

If there is a change in the law before 6 May 2021 then it is possible that any elections requested to fill casual vacancies will be held earlier.

Can I be a candidate?

The qualifications for becoming a candidate are available on the Electoral Commission  website.

How do I become a candidate?

Provided that you qualify to stand for election you need to complete a nomination form and other documents which can also be found on the Electoral Commission at the above link.

Nominations can only be taken at certain times during the election timetable. More details of these times for specific elections are given on the Notice of Election. The rules are that nominations can usually be taken between the 25th working day and the 19th working day before polling day. 

If you have any questions not covered by these FAQs then there is more general information on the Electoral Commission's website or you can call 01924 305023 or email elections@wakefield.co.uk


Contact us

Electoral Services Office

County Hall
Wakefield
WF1 2QW

01924 305023