About the Parish Council.
Dartington Parish Council is an elected body in the first tier of local government. Other higher tiers, for example South Hams District Council or Devon County Council, have legal duties to deliver services including education, housing, planning and transport. Parish councils have the legal power to take action in some situations, but they have very few duties – things they must do.
Parish Councils represent and serve their local communities. They are an important part of the democratic process and play a vital part in representing the interests of their communities and can also influence other decision makers.
Dartington Parish Council meets virtually on the 2nd Wednesday of each month except August from 7-9.00pm. Councillors are expected to attend all meetings and prepare for them by reading the agenda and papers which the Clerk emails in advance.
Over the last two years, Dartington Parish Councillors have:
- successfully persuaded DCC to reinstate the virtual pavement along Cott Road
- upgraded the Gidley’s Meadow play area with new seats and equipment
- awarded grants to local organisations in the parish (including the Village Hall, St Mary’s Churchyard, the DRA and Meadowbrook)
- set up a working group to look at planting trees
- held regular meetings with Dartington Hall Trust
- carried out maintenance on bus shelters and footpaths
- involved parishioners in working on the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Council also responds to planning applications, has its own website and produces its quarterly Parish Magazine, Our Dartington, which is delivered by volunteers to every house in the parish.
Becoming a parish councillor
Council elections are held every four years and so the term of office for Councillors is four years. All Councillors serve until the next scheduled elections and Councillors can stand for more than one term of office.
To find out about vacancies on the council click on this link
You should be eligible to serve as a parish councillor as long as you are:
- at least 18,
- a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen (at the moment),
- on the electoral register
- and live in the parish or within 3 miles of the boundary,
- or your main place of work is in the parish or within 3 miles of the boundary.
Local Government Association information about being a Councillor can be found on this website: https://beacouncillor.co.uk/
The rules say that if a Council doesn’t have enough councillors after an election, the Council is able to co-opt people to any vacancies.
Dartington Parish Council currently has no councillor vacancies.
Process for co-opting to Casual Vacancies arising on the Council
Councillors are co-opted at a full meeting of the Parish Council which must have at least 4 councillors present. Candidates should check they meet the eligibility requirements and confirm this to the Clerk and provide some information about themselves saying who you are and what you could bring to the Council. Candidates are invited to speak at the meeting to introduce themselves. The sitting Councillors will then discuss the co-option and make their decision. The candidate must sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office, in the presence of the Clerk who must countersign the form. Once this is done, the candidate becomes a Councillor.
COVID 19 amendment -The Council is unable to meet physically so acceptance of office forms must be printed out and can be signed by the candidate at a virtual meeting providing the Clerk can see the form being signed. The candidate must then send by post or hand deliver the signed form to the Clerk for countersigning. The candidate is legally co-opted at the first meeting following the signing of the form by both parties.
NALC also has advice for Councils re co-option which is in the document below.
Co-opted v elected councillors
There is no difference between co-opted and elected councillors other than how they become councillors. The requirements and duties are the same for all Councillors irrespective of how they attained office.
A co-opted Councillor is one who is appointed to the Council by Councillors, rather than being elected. It is obviously better for local democracy if people stand as councillors via an election, but it is important to have people willing to serve.
Councillors Code of Conduct
All Councillors are expected to abide by the Code of Conduct which covers the principles of public life and disclosing personal and pecuniary interests as defined by the Localism Act. It is up to individual Councillors to decide whether they have an interest or not, but it is better to be open and declare anything which you, or others, might think could affect your decision making. There is a legal requirement to disclose and register a pecuniary (financial) interest.
In making all decisions, Councillors are expected to abide by the following principles :
No Council business can be conducted unless there is a quorum which is the legal minimum number of Councillors present. A quorum is one third of seats available rounded up to the nearest whole number. In Dartington’s case there are 11 seats on the Council so the quorum is four. The quorum can be affected if a Councillor declares an interest meaning they can’t vote on a particular item of the meeting
All Councillors have a duty to register any interests they have and declare them. The form can be downloaded from the link below.