If a councillor leaves their seat during the course of their term, a casual vacancy occurs.
This could be due to:
- the resignation of a councillor;
- the passing away of a councillor;
- the disqualification (or ceasing to be qualified) of a councillor;
- a failure to take up office.
Current vacancy notices
Casual vacancy rules
The rules for casual vacancies are different depending on whether the seat is for the District or County Council, or for a Parish/Town Council.
Town and Parish Councils
When a councillor’s seat becomes vacant the Parish/Town Clerk notifies the Elections Team at Thanet District Council. The Elections Team will provide the Clerk with a ‘Notice of Vacancy’ to display in the parish area as soon as practicable.
The notice explains that an election can be called by a request made in writing to the District Council’s Proper Officer by 10 electors from the parish area (if the parish is warded, they must only come from the parish ward), within 14 days of the date of the notice.
If an election is called it must be held within 60 days of the notice. If no request is received to call an election then the Parish/Town Council may co-opt someone into the vacant seat.
This means that the Parish/Town Council can choose who they wish to appoint to fill the seat, rather than holding an election.
The ‘Notice of Vacancy’ must run it’s course before the Parish/Town Council have the opportunity to co-opt a new councillor and this gives the electors of the parish the chance to call an election if they wish to.
If the vacancy occurs within 6 months of the date of the next scheduled elections for that council then no election is held, and the seat remains vacant until it is filled at the next elections, or the council may choose to co-opt into the vacant seat.
District and County Council
When a councillor’s seat becomes vacant the Elections Team will display a ‘Notice of Vacancy’ to advertise the fact that there is a vacancy. This will be displayed as soon as is practicable.
The notice explains that an election can be called by a request made in writing to the Council’s Proper Officer by 2 electors from the Local Authority area. If an election is called it must be held within 35 days of the notice.
The exception to this is that if a vacancy occurs within 6 months of the date of next scheduled elections, the vacancy is carried over to the next elections. The seat remains vacant during that time and no by-election will be held.