WHAT DOES A TOWN COUNCILLOR DO?
In short, councillors work together to set the policy direction of the Town Council. Councillors attend regular meetings of the council and its committees to make decisions on a range of matters deciding what services should be delivered, where money should be spent and what policies should be implemented.
Councillors represent the local community, both residents of their ward and the town as a whole. Councillors will be contacted by residents who have problems they need assistance with and some councillors are appointed to serve on outside bodies, such as the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership or Friends of the Moor.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ARE COUNCILLORS PAID?
No, our councillors do not receive an allowance. The exception to this is the Town Mayor who receives an allowance to meet the expenses of that office.
We do reimburse some expenses such as mileage but we are unable (by law) to reimburse childcare costs.
WHO DECIDES IF THERE WILL BE A BY-ELECTION?
A casual vacancy arises when a councillor leaves office between ordinary elections. This could be through resignation, death, disqualification or by failing to attend meetings.
When a casual vacancy arises, the Town Clerk will publish a notice giving the electors living in the ward 14 working days the opportunity to demand an election. If 10 electors write to the Returning Officer at Cheshire East Council to request an election a by-election is triggered.
If fewer than 10 request an election, the town council must instead co-opt a councillor to fill the vacancy.
If the vacancy occurs within the 6 months before an ordinary election no by-election will be held even if demanded. If a by-election is not demanded the council can choose to leave the vacancy unfilled until the election.
WHAT SUPPORT IS PROVIDED?
The Town Clerk provides an induction for all new councillors and part of his role is provide advice and support to all councillors. Experienced councillors are often happy to support new councillors ‘find their feet’.
We encourage councillors to undertake training relevant to their roles and the needs of the council and councillors have access to advice from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils.
WHERE DO THE WARDS COME INTO IT?
Knutsford is divided into four wards (see ward map): Bexton, Nether, Norbury Booths and Over. It is the electors of the ward who vote in any given election, a councillor does not have to live in the ward they stand in.
In any election, you can only stand once i.e. in one ward. If you stand for more than one you will be not be validly nominated in either. However, you are not tied to a ward, so if you stand for election in Nether ward in one election, you could stand in Over ward at the next.
CAN I BE A MEMBER OF A POLTICAL PARTY / DO I HAVE TO BE?
Councillors can stand for election (or co-option) as candidates for a political party, to do so they must have permission from the party, usually through the local branch.
Councillors can also be independent of political parties.
STANDING FOR ELECTION
Elections to Knutsford Town Council are run by Cheshire East Borough Council (the elections authority). Standing for election is the same for ordinary elections and by-elections and the Electoral Commission website has full resources that explain the rules in more detail. The detailed timeline for an election will be set out in the formal notices. If you are intending to stand as a candidate for a political party you should contact the party in advance.
Just over a month before an election, a formal notice of the election will be given by Cheshire East Council. This will be published on the town council’s noticeboard and website and we’ll promote it to the Knutsford Guardian. The notice will give a date from which nomination papers can be submitted.
Nomination papers can be downloaded from the Electoral Commission website or may be available from the Town Council Offices. Candidates have from the day after the notice until around one month before an election to submit their nomination papers to Cheshire East Council – there is often a window of around a week between the notice and the deadline for nominations. Nomination papers must be hand delivered and completed fully. You must have a proposer and seconder who do. You will also need a witness to confirm you have consented to the nomination and provided your correct information. If you are standing as a part representative, they must sign to consent to your nomination.
By the day after the close of nominations, we will publish a ‘statement of persons nominated’ which lists who has stood for election and who has proposed them. This will be followed by the ‘notice of poll’ which confirms the detail of the election.
There are detailed rules on campaigning and election spending, candidates should read the guidance from the Electoral Commission.
When the votes are counted depends on what other elections are running on the same day. For ordinary elections, the count for the parish council elections is usually on Saturday as the Cheshire East Council elections are counted first. For by-elections, the count is usually night of the elections. Cheshire East Council will let candidates know when the votes will be counted and candidates can attend the count.
APPLYING FOR CO-OPTION
If the town council has a vacancy to fill by co-option, we will advertise it on our noticeboard, website, social media and through the Knutsford Guardian. We will give at least two weeks notice and invite those wishing to be co-opted to complete an application form which sets out the your eligibility and the reasons you want to be a councillor.
The applications will then be put to a meeting of the Full Council where the councillors will vote to determine which candidate is co-opted and becomes a councillor.