Parish polls

Information regarding parish polls

Parish polls provide an opportunity for local electors to express an opinion on a specific local subject, either by giving an answer to a question, or an appointment to any office.

The way in which they can be called is set out in the Parish and Community Meetings (Polls) Rules 1987 The Parish and Community Meetings (Polls) Rules 1987 (

Ten electors, or one third of electors present and voting at a relevant parish meeting (whichever number is less), may demand a poll on a question, or the appointment to an office. The actual request for a poll can't be subject to a vote at the meeting, but if a poll is demanded on a question, the wording of the question can be voted on.

The chairman of the meeting must notify the returning officer at Central Bedfordshire Council to give notice of poll.

Key features

  • there's no provision for absent voting (postal or proxies); polling is therefore only in person at your local polling station – a notice will be put up in the parish not less than five days before the poll
  • there's no provision for the issue of poll cards
  • polling will be from 4pm to 9pm on the day fixed by the returning officer between the 14th and 25th day (inclusive) after the poll was demanded
  • a parish poll cannot be combined with any other type of election
  • the motion proposed at the parish meeting is reproduced as the question on the ballot paper; it's therefore important for the original motion to be phrased in such a way as to enable a "yes" or "no" response only
  • as the cost of a parish poll has to be met entirely by the parish council or parish meeting concerned, it should have the powers to deal with the subject matter of the question
  • the result is not binding on the parish or unitary council

Take a look at our further guidance (Word) on how parish polls are run and governed.