New co-option policy for town council

Honiton Town Council has ratified a new co-option process, recommended by its finance and policy committee.

There are currently four vacancies on the authority that are likely to be filled by co-options, as well as a further vacancy that is expected to be filled via a by-election after the summer.

The new policy includes an application form, based on documentation recommended by the National Association of Local Councils. It seeks to ensure new councillors are not only suitable but have the necessary skills to serve the community.

Concerns were raised at a finance and policy committee meeting about the possibility of a ‘block vote’, but it was clarified that that candidates will be voted for individually.

Town clerk Mark Tredwin explained what wording in the Local Government Act 1972 meant.

In particular, the word ‘must’ being used when detailing the need for a candidate to have more than 50 per cent of the vote from those present and eligible to vote.

He pointed out, a block vote could be proposed but the council would need to take a vote on whether or not to use it. However, he had reservations about using such a mechanism.

The co-option policy, including the new application form, was approved by the full town council last week – too late for the latest round of co-options but in time for the next one.

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