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10.04.19

Dorset parish councils hit by lack of candidates for local elections

Over 130 Dorset parishes and towns in Dorset have failed to attract enough candidates for the upcoming elections, meaning some of the council may not be able to operate from next month.

At least 130 of the 163 parishes and towns in the Dorset Council region do not have enough candidates for the 2 May local council elections, whilst 20 have no candidates at all.

For some areas, a second call for an election will take place with voting taking place in June if more candidates come forward, whilst other parish councils could co-opt members or simply continue with fewer members so long as the have the legal minimum numbers.

Jacqui Andrews of Dorset Council’s democratic and electoral services said: “We have a number of parishes for which we have received no nominations or insufficient to constitute a legally formed parish council.

“This means that there will be no councillors on 7 May 2019 when the sitting councillors retire and the council will be unable to function.”

She added that this reflects the national situation and is not unusual for Dorset.

The bigger town councils all have enough candidates for an election, such as at the new Weymouth Town Council where 70 candidates will battle for 29 seats.

The parish council chairman of Crossways, Andrew Drewer, said that having only seven vacancies was not ideal for one of the largest villages in the county.

“The consensus of opinion is that the nomination forms are not very user friendly,” Drewer said.

“Parish councils are suffering from a feeling that they are basically ignored while being bombarded with surveys and questionnaires and requests for feedback - and then seeing that the results are ignored.

“There are plenty of people who complain about the things we get wrong and quite a few who tell us what we should be doing but not many prepared to take seats on the council.”

Hilary Trevorah, the chief executive of Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils, said that in total more than 1,500 people have stepped forward for consideration, but also hopes that more will come forward now they have heard about the vacancies.

“This is a very important and interesting time for parish and town councils, as they are the closest level of government to their communities and will have an essential role in working in partnership with the new unitary councils in Dorset.”

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