Co-Options onto Parish Councils

My heart always sinks when I see a Parish Council using its power of co-opting a person onto its Council. The power is used to fill a vacancy amongst the Parish Councillors caused by death, illness, disqualification, resignation etc. of an incumbent councillor. It’s never a good sign to see co-option taking place, in my view, because it means that local democracy is not working well and no one wants stand for election to fill the vacancy via a by-election.

My personal view is that this power should be withdrawn as it should have no place in a modern democracy.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve been on a Parish Council when co-options have taken place and yes I have gone along with them in the past. But the last time one came up on Lydiate Parish Council I voted against the co-option, not because I had a problem with the person concerned, how could I – knew nothing of them, but because I have grown to realise that co-option is not something I can continue to support. If someone is willing to be co-opted then they should also be willing to stand in a by-election where all the electorate of the Parish or ward of the Parish gets the opportunity to vote them in or not so long as more than one candidate stands for the vacancy of course.

I know co-option is favoured by many associated with Parish Councils because it saves on by-election costs but just think on that a minute because it’s side stepping democracy is it not?

And what made me think of this matter again now? Seeing a public notice for a Parish Councillor vacancy on Aughton Parish Council and along side it an agenda for a Parish Council meeting which had an item on it associated with making a co-option. I’m not trying to single out Aughton Parish Council by the way (it may well be one of the best Parish Councils in England for all I know) as co-option is common-place across many Parish Councils in England but I am saying that the practice should be brought to an end.

One thought on “Co-Options onto Parish Councils

  1. bill honeyman says:

    Dear Tony
    Now talking only of Parish election versus the co-opt
    Co-opt is far better than an election because the reason I would not stand for or in election because of cost .Tony do you know how much it cost???? in having one and I ask myself where does the money, it goes straight into the council pockets.
    Therefore ,I say that co-opt is not bad for Parishes and not because of politics, by the way , this is only 3 tier where it should be a community spirit and not for so called two face politicians that would have to be paid, but unlike PARISH COUNCILLORS. Would THEY do for free !!!!!!!!. I dare you to ask them if they would do it for free like parish councillors.

    I would like to see their faces when asked and I see all is not well with you Tony and I would just ask your self why I am doing this for free.

    Regards Bill Honeyman Co-opt Aintree Village Parish Councillor

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