Notice of Election (PDF, 42 Kb)
Notice of Election of Town & Parish Councillors, published by Mid Sussex District Council
Information for Prospective Councillors
The next elections for Ashurst Wood Village Council take place on the 4th May 2023. The Council represents the interests of the residents of the civil parish of Ashurst Wood.
If you care about your community and want to get involved, please consider standing. Below you will find answers to some of the questions you may have.
Who can be a Councillor?
Anyone can become a Councillor, as long as they meet the legal criteria and are not disqualified – see details below. Basically, you must be 18 years old or more and live or work in the parish or within three miles of it.
Whether you are working full time, caring for family or newly retired and looking for a fresh challenge, you will be welcome as long as you have the enthusiasm and desire to help your community.
What experience, skills and qualifications do I need?
If you have worked as a Councillor, on a committee or in the community before, this is helpful but is not a requirement. The Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer are trained to provide advice and guidance.
Councillors have a wide variety of different work and life experiences, skills and interests which can help in their role.
It is helpful to have some Councillors with knowledge or experience of finance and budgeting, human resources (as the Council is an employer), planning (although training will be offered), or organising events and activities. It would certainly help if you are able to provide occasional assistance with putting up marquees, clearing away tables and chairs, decorating the Christmas tree or manning road blocks!
But the most important qualification is your desire to work with and for your community.
How much time do I need to commit to the Council?
You need to be able to attend Council meetings, which are held approximately 10 times a year on a Tuesday evening. If you join one of the Council's committees or working groups then there will be additional meetings, some of which may be held during the day. You will need to spend some time preparing for meetings. If you are helping with one of the Council's events or projects, that will involve more time. If you are Chair of the Council or a Committee you will probably spend a bit more time preparing and liaising with the Clerk.
New Councillors should also be prepared to undergo training. Most training courses take place virtually.
It is recognized that everyone has work, family and other commitments outside of the Council, and some will be able to devote more time to Council business than others.
Will I be paid?
The role of Local Councillor is unpaid.
The Village Council does not currently pay allowances, but Councillors can claim for legitimate expenses, such as mileage for attending meetings outside the Village on Council business. Paper can be provided as well as a contribution towards printer ink if appropriate.
Do I need a computer?
Ideally, yes, you will have access to a computer or a device on which you can read emails. The Council will provide you with an email address and Council correspondence will be sent by email. This includes agendas and papers for meetings. You might also need to look at planning applications on the Mid Sussex District Council website, and it is useful to be able to research other information online. Most training courses are online.
If you are very keen to join the Council but do not use a computer, then you should not let this deter you as the Clerk can arrange to print off any necessary documents for you and provide other assistance.
What happens at Council meetings?
Meetings are where the Council makes decisions about how it will run its services, how it will work with other bodies for the benefit of the community, how it will spend its money (which comes from the Council's share of the Council Tax).
Decisions cannot be made by individual members, although anyone can put forward suggestions or proposals for consideration by the Council.
The meeting is chaired by the Chair and the Clerk attends to take minutes and give advice. Meetings of Council and Committees are open to the public.
Agendas and minutes of previous meetings can be seen here.
What does the Council do for the Community?
Information about what the Council does can be found on this website and in the Newsletters that are sent monthly by email and delivered quarterly to each dwelling in the village.
The Council employs the Clerk, Responsible Financial Officer, Village Handyman, two Youth Workers to run the Youth Club, and a cleaner.
It has organised events, such as Ashstock, summer fairs, Jubilee and VE celebrations, and the annual Christmas Market. It works with West Sussex County Council on highways matters, and has purchased a speed indicator device to encourage responsible driving. It manages the facilities at John Pears on behalf of Mid Sussex District Council and has also provided the street soccer games wall and outdoor gym equipment there and constructed a footpath through the site to help pedestrians avoid walking on the road. It is consulted on planning matters by Mid Sussex District Council and has its own Neighbourhood Plan.
Do I need to belong to a political party?
No, definitely not!
The Council works for the benefit of the community and is not a party-political body, although individual members might well have political affiliations or opinions.
What other commitments will be required from me?
You will have to sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office at or before your first meeting.
All Councillors are required under the Localism Act 2011 to complete a Notification of Disclosable Pecuniary and Other Interests form within 28 days of taking office. The Clerk to the Council will forward this to the Monitoring Officer of Mid Sussex District Council, and it will also be placed on the Council's website.
You must adhere to the Council's Code of Conduct and the new Civility and Respect Pledge whenever you are acting as a Councillor.
I am interested – what do I do next?
Mid Sussex District Council is the authority that organises the local elections. The election timetable and other information and documentation is on their website.
Once you have checked that you meet the qualifying criteria and are not disqualified (see below), you will need to be nominated by two electors from the parish. The nomination pack must be completed and delivered by hand to the District Council's offices at Haywards Heath (appointments are necessary) between the 21st March and the 4th April 2023.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Clerk or one of the current Councillors (details on the website).
See the following websites for more information:
https://wsalc.co.uk/ - West Sussex Association of Local Councils. See link to their video below.
https://www.nalc.gov.uk/elections - information from the National Association of Local Councils about becoming a Councillor
https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/elections-voting/upcoming-elections/ - election information from Mid Sussex District Council
https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/parish-council-elections-england - guidance from the Electoral Commission for parish council election candidates
Video for Prospective Councillors
Unless disqualified, under s.79, Local Government Act 1972 a person is qualified to be elected to a council if they are a qualifying British, Commonwealth or EU citizen, are 18 years of age or over and:
- they are and will continue to be an elector for the parish; or
- during the whole of the previous 12 months they have occupied as owner/tenant any land or other premises in that area; or
- their principal or only place of work during that 12 months has been in that area; or
- they have resided in, or within three miles of the parish for the past 12 months
Under s.80 of the 1972 Act, a person is disqualified from being a Parish Councillor if they:
- hold any paid office or employment with the Parish Council; or
- are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order, an interim restrictions order, a debt relief restrictions order, or interim order; or
- have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) of not less than three months, without the option of a fine, during the preceding five years; or
- have been disqualified under any enactment relating to corrupt or illegal electoral practices; or
- are subject to the notification requirement under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003