Standing as a candidate

Become a Parish Councillor

A parish/town council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of the people in the parish. It is the level of local government closest to the community, with the district authority (Hambleton District Council) and the county authority (North Yorkshire County Council) above it in the hierarchy.

A town council is a parish council that covers a town but has elected to call itself a town council.

Parish/town elections

The parish areas of Hambleton District are made up of 171 parishes with 496 seats representing 77 parish/town councils. Elections are administered by the Returning Officer at the District Council on behalf of the Parish Council. The District Council is assisted by the Parish/Town Councils only employee, the Proper Officer, or as more commonly known, the Parish Clerk.

Why become a parish councillor?

By becoming a parish councillor you become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support - a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.

What is expected of a parish/town councillor?

  • Representing the views of residents within your parish.
  • As part of the council you will have responsibility for running local services, such as open spaces, play areas, village halls and more.
  • Deciding on how much to raise through council tax in order to deliver your council's services.
  • Influencing and shaping the long term development policy for the parish, and as part of the planning process, comment on planning applications in the parish.
  • Improving the quality of life and the environment in their local area.
  • Working to identify issues which are important to the lives of the residents you represent.
  • Working to bring about improvements through local projects.
  • Lobbying other service providers and working in partnership with other parishes and agencies.

How much time does it take up?

Councils meet regularly, members of the public are also invited to attend these meetings, the length of meetings depend on what's on the agenda.

In addition to the regular meetings councillors may be required to attend 'ad hoc' meetings - for example with architects or agents to discuss planning applications that the council may comment on.

How long does a parish councillor serve for?

Once elcted, parish councillors sit on the council for four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election. This does not mean that you have to stay for four years. If you find it’s not for you, or you can no longer meet the commitment, you can resign from the position.

Are you interested in becoming a parish councillor?

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. Go along to a parish council meeting, speak to one of the councillors and find out what they think of the role.

Can I become a parish/town councillor?

The easy answer is, “almost definitely”.
As long as you are:

  1. At least 18 years old on the day of your nomination
  2. A British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any other member state of the European Union

You must also 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 4.8 kilometres of it during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.

You can’t be a councillor if:

  • you are employed by the parish council or hold a paid office under the parish/community 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) or under the Audit Commission Act 1998.

If you are in any doubt about whether you are eligible to stand as a parish councillor, you should contact the Electoral Commission.

How do I become a candidate?

A Notice of Election is published by the district council at the start of the election. This gives details of the electoral areas, date and time of election, the number of councillors to be elected, and the timetable for submitting nomination papers.

To stand as a candidate at any election a nomination paper and consent to nomination must be submitted. The nomination paper requires details of the candidate such as their name, address and description (if any), these details will be printed on the ballot paper if the parish you are standing in is contested.

All nomination papers require a signature from two registered electors within the parish (one proposer, and one seconder).

You can stand as an independent candidate or party candidate, please take a look at the Electoral Commissions Guidance for Candidates for further information. If you are a candidate for a registered political party, you must also have a certificate of authorisation and authorisation to use the party’s emblem if required. You can either appoint an election agent to manage your election campaign or, alternatively, you can act as your own agent. It is the candidate’s responsibility - or that of the agent - to present nomination papers to the Returning Officer before the deadline.

When a Notice of Election has been published, a copy of the election timetable and a nomination pack can be obtained from the Electoral Services team. The pack will contain all the forms and information you will need to become a candidate. After the close of nominations, if there are more candidates than vacancies, then an election will be held.

Candidates can appoint election, polling and count agents. Further details are provided in nomination packs.

Completing the nomination

  • don’t leave it until the last minute - your papers will need verifying so give yourself enough time to correct mistakes
  • read the nomination paper and supporting material carefully
  • when collecting your signatures ensure their names are on the electoral register and also that their polling district and number are included on the form
  • make sure the people nominating and seconding you are only backing you and not several candidates.

Election expenses

If you decide to become a candidate it is important that a record of expenditure is kept. If you are a member of a political party there may be financial help available. You will need to submit a statement of election expenses shortly after the election. If you have no expenditure you must still submit a nil return. For more information, contact the Electoral Commission.

Further information

The legislation relating to elections is extensive. Candidates and election agents are advised to familiarise themselves with the provisions. The Returning Officer and his staff are available to give general advice to candidates and election agents. If you require advice please contact Electoral Services. Please note however, that the team will only provide generic advice.


This information is available as a leaflet and can be accessed here:

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