West Suffolk Council

On 1 April 2019 Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council were replaced by a single district council called West Suffolk Council. We will continue to deliver the same services while finding improved ways of supporting communities, businesses and the local economy. You may notice changes to the website, forms, letters and emails, due to the change.

Additional elections information

Guidance for parish and town clerks

Term of office

Parish and town councillors hold office for a period of four years. When an election is held, the office of the existing councillors ends on the fourth day after the day of the election, however, chairs of parish and town councils continue in office until their successor has been appointed, even if they have not been re-elected.

Casual vacancies

There are a number of reasons as to how a casual vacancy may arise:

  1. Resignation - A councillor may resign from their office at any time by a written notice delivered to the chair of the council. The resignation takes effect of the receipt of the written notice and that date becomes the effective date of the vacancy.
  2. Death - The vacancy is deemed to have arisen on the date of the death.
  3. Failure to complete a declaration of acceptance of office - A councillor is required to have completed a declaration of acceptance of office before or at the first meeting of the council, unless the council has permitted otherwise. The effective date is the closing date for making a declaration of acceptance of office.
  4. Ceased to be qualified - A councillor, who had used their registration as an elector as their qualification for nomination, usually ceases to be qualified when they have ceased to be on the register of electors. Whereby a councillor ceases to be qualified, the effective date of the vacancy is the date when the council declares the vacancy.
  5. Becoming disqualified - A councillor may become disqualified through a variety of reasons including being employed by the local authority, holding a politically restricted post, being the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order or being sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months. Whereby a councillor becomes disqualified, the effective date of the vacancy is the date when the council declares the vacancy.
  6. Failure to attend meetings - A councillor ceases to be a member of the council if they have failed to attend a meeting of the council for a continuous period of six months from the date of their last attendance, unless the failure to attend was due to some reason approved by the council before the expiry of the six month period. The effective date of the vacancy is the date declared by the council.

Public notice of vacancy

As soon as is practicable after the date on which the vacancy has been deemed to occur, the clerk of the council is asked to notify the Returning Officer of the vacancy by sending an email to elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk.

The Returning Officer will provide a notice of the casual vacancy which the clerk must display for 14 working days in a conspicuous place or places within the parish / parish ward.

Election

If within 14 working days of the date of the notice of vacancy, the Returning Officer receives a written request to hold an election, signed by 10 electors of the parish / ward of the parish, an election must be held.

Co-option

If no request is received within the 14 working days, the council may co-opt to fill the vacancy.

Notice of election

Upon receipt of a written request to hold an election, the Returning Officer will set a date for polling day and produce a notice of election, which will be sent to the clerk which must be displayed in a conspicuous place or places within the parish/parish ward.

The notice of election will provide details of where nomination papers can be obtained and the date by when they should be returned. The notice will provide the date for election, in the event of an uncontested election.

Statement of persons nominated

Following the deadline for the submission of nomination papers, the Returning Officer will publish a statement of persons nominated, which will be sent to the clerk. The clerk must display the statement of persons nominated in a conspicuous place or places within the parish/parish ward.

Following a short period, determined by the Returning Officer, during which the candidates may withdraw should they choose to do so, if more candidates remain than there are vacant seats, the election will be contested.

If the number of candidates is the same as the number of seats on the council, the candidates automatically become councillors without contest.

Contested elections

Where an election is contested, the Returning Officer shall make the arrangements for a poll to be held. The poll will be held between 7am and 10pm on the day set by the Returning Officer.

It is not compulsory for poll cards to be issued to electors for town and parish elections, however, parish and town councils can request, in writing, that poll cards are produced and issued to electors.

Where a parish or town council election takes place on its own, the full cost will be recharged to the parish or town council. The cost will include the hiring of the polling station, polling staff costs, the printing of ballot papers and the sending and receiving of postal votes.

Working at elections

If you are interested in working for us during elections, the information below provides details of the roles and how to apply for the positions. Further information can be obtained by sending an email to elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk

Job roles

How to apply

Send the completed application forms to Electoral Services, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU or elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk

If you are due to work at an election, you may wish to apply for a postal vote or a proxy vote for yourself. 

Electoral fraud

Electoral fraud is an illegal interference with the process of an election and it is a serious matter.

There are many types of electoral fraud, these can include:

  • intimidation
  • vote buying
  • misuse of postal votes
  • misuse of proxy votes
  • destruction of ballot papers

It is your vote so make sure that you protect it! There are simple things that you can do to prevent yourself being a victim of electoral fraud:

  • keep polling cards in a secure place at home and do not allow others to handle them
  • when you complete your postal ballots, do not allow anyone else to see your choice or fill it in for you
  • put postal ballots in the envelope and seal it yourself
  • do not give your postal ballot to anyone before you have sealed the envelope
  • if you find that someone has voted in your name when you arrive at the polling station, inform the Presiding Officer
  • if anyone tries to persuade you against your will or if they try to force you to give them your postal vote, contact the police.

Further details can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

If you think that electoral fraud may have been committed, you can report it by sending an email to elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk