About the Parish Council

History
Parish councils were formed in England under the Local Government Act 1894 to take over local oversight of civic duties in rural towns and villages. Before this date a variety of groups based around ecclesiastical parishes had responsibility for these matters, in a system of local government that originated in the feudal system of the 8th century. Parish and town (local) councils are the first tier of local government. There are around 10,000 local councils in England and Wales, made up of nearly 100,000 councillors.

Elections and membership
The term of office of a parish councillor is four years, and councils are elected en bloc. The legislation provides that the number of elected members of a parish council shall not be less than five. In the case of Braughing, the required number is seven.

The timing of the election cycle is linked to that of the election of a District Councillor for the ward containing the parish.

Uncontested elections

Where there are an equal number or fewer candidates than there are vacancies, all candidates are elected unopposed, and no poll is taken. Where there are fewer candidates than vacant seats, the parish council has the duty to coopt any person or persons to fill the vacancies. This power, however, may only be exercised if there is a quorum of councillors present and within 35 days of the election. If the parish council fails to fill the vacancies within this period, the district council may dissolve it and order fresh elections.

Contested elections
Where there are more candidates than vacancies, a poll must be held.

Casual vacancies
Where a vacancy occurs during the term of a parish council, it may be filled by either election or cooption. Elections only occur if, following the advertisement of the vacancy for 14 days, 10 electors send a written request to the returning officer. If no request is received, the parish council will be required to fill the vacancies by cooption. If the number of vacancies on the parish council is such that there is no longer a quorum, the district council may temporarily appoint persons to bring the council up to strength in the interval prior to an election.

Code of Conduct and Register of Interests

The Localism Act 2011 required councils to adopt a new Code of Conduct and also a revised Register of Members Interests. This requirement came into force on the 1st July 2012. All interests have to be published to the Parish Council web site, where one exists and also the District Council website.

On 13th September 2012, Braughing Parish Council agreed to adopt the Code of Conduct of East Herts District Council with effect from 1st July 2012. A copy of the Code of Conduct can be found here >>>

All newly elected and co-opted parish councillors are required to complete a written declaration of interests as prescribed within 28 days and submitted to the clerk to the parish council, who maintains a register of interests. It is the responsibility of all councillors to ensure their declared interests remain up to date. A copy of the latest register can be found here >>>

Proceedings of Parish Council Meetings
The proceedings of Parish Council meetings and the general business of the Parish Council is conducted in accordance with the Parish Council Standing Orders and The Financial Instructions.

Freedom of information
The parish council are required to comply with the Freedom of Information act 2000. As a result, the parish council have agreed their own internal policy and associated charges here.