< Parish and Community Council Elections

Purpose of our guidance for candidates

  1. Our guidance aims to provide practical advice for anyone who wants to stand as a candidate at a parish or community council election in England and Wales. It covers the main steps towards standing as a candidate, the campaign and the declaration of the result. It includes relevant factual material as well as a guide to sources of further information. Standing for election can be complicated, but we hope that our guidance will make it as straightforward as possible.

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    How to use our guidance

  3. Our guidance is made up of six parts, setting out the different stages that candidates need to go through when standing at a parish or community council election in England and Wales.
  4. Each part is accompanied by a number of forms and resources, which can be directly accessed via links in the individual parts. Alternatively, relevant guidance, forms and resources will be available on our dedicated webpage for candidates at parish and community elections.
  5. The following parts make up our full guidance for parish and community council elections:
  6. Before starting the process of standing for election potential candidates need to be confident that they meet all of the requirements. You should therefore first read Part 1 of our guidance, which covers the qualifications and disqualifications.
  7. Once satisfied that you can stand, you should read Part 2a of our guidance (if you are standing as an independent candidate) or Part 2b of our guidance (if you are standing as a party candidate), which deal with the nominations process and guide you through which forms you need to submit and by when.
  8. You must follow rules about how much you can spend and what you must report after the election. Failure to follow these rules could lead to you committing an offence and losing your seat, if elected. Part 3 of our guidance explains the rules.
  9. Part 4 covers the rules on publication and display of campaign literature and what you need to bear in mind when campaigning.
  10. Candidates also have a right to attend key electoral events. These are: the opening of postal votes; the poll; and the count. Others can also be appointed to attend these electoral events. Details on your rights and what to expect at these events are provided in Part 5.
  11. Finally, there are a number of things candidates will need to do once the result has been declared, including submitting their spending returns to the Returning Officer. This is covered in Part 6.
  12. To keep the guidance as relevant to the reader as possible, we have split most guidance parts into an ‘Essential information’ section, which all candidates should read as it contains information that is relevant to all, and a ‘Supplementary information’ section, that will be relevant only to some. You will be directed to the ‘Supplementary information’ section at relevant points throughout the ‘Essential information’ section.
  13. Terminology used in the guidance
  14. Throughout the parts we have used the term ‘parish council’ to refer to both town and parish councils.
  15. Some parish councils are subdivided into wards for the purposes of administering elections. In the case of a parish that is un-warded; any references to ‘ward’ should be read as ‘parish’.

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    Who does what at these elections and how to contact them?

    The Returning Officer
  17. Parish and community council elections in England and Wales are run by the Returning Officer, who is normally a senior officer of the local authority and independent of the authority in respect of their electoral functions. You will be able to contact the Returning Officer for your area by contacting your local elections office. Addresses and telephone numbers of all elections offices in England and Wales can be found at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
  18. The Returning Officer will offer briefings ahead of an election and we strongly encourage you to attend, even if you have stood for election before.
  19. The Electoral Registration Officer
  20. The Electoral Registration Officer is responsible for maintaining the register of electors and absent voters’ lists for their local authority area. In England and Wales, the Electoral Registration Officer is normally a senior officer in the local authority and may also be the Returning Officer. You can find contact details for your Electoral Registration Officer at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
  21. The Electoral Commission
  22. We are an independent statutory body established in November 2000 by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. We are currently headed by ten Commissioners, including a Chair. We report directly to the UK Parliament through a committee chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
  23. We are responsible for registering political parties and non-party campaigners, the monitoring and publication of significant donations to registered political parties and the regulation of party and non-party campaigner spending at certain elections. We also have a role in promoting voter awareness. We are required to report on the administration of certain electoral events, to keep electoral matters under review and, if requested, must review and report on any electoral matter. We also accredit observers to be present at election proceedings.
  24. We do not run elections but have responsibility for providing advice and assistance on electoral matters to all those involved in elections, including Returning Officers, Electoral Registration Officers and political parties and candidates.
  25. We are here to help, so please get in touch if you have any questions.

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    Contacting us

    If you are a candidate in England
  27. If your question is about your spending, please contact us at:
    Email: pef@electoralcommission.org.uk
    Tel: 0333 103 1928
  28. For any other questions, please contact us at:
    Email: infoengland@electoralcommission.org.uk
    Tel: 0333 103 1928
  29. If you are a candidate in Wales
  30. You can contact us in Wales for all queries at: Email: infowales@electoralcommission.org.uk
    Tel: 0333 103 1929


< Parish and Community Council Elections