Some parishes, particularly smaller ones, find they have not been able to attract sufficient candidates to stand for election. This can lead to uncontested elections, where no vote is required because there is space for all of the candidates. Sometimes there can be a need to co-opt members to fill vacancies. Co-opting means that members are appointed to a council, rather than being democratically elected.
Arlesey Town Council membership was last reviewed in 2017/18 when the number of councillors was reduced from 15 to 12. At the parish elections in May 2019, however, only four nominations were received. Central Bedfordshire Council was then required to appoint (co-opt) its three Arlesey ward councillors to Arlesey Town Council giving a total of 7 members.
The reason we had to co-opt our own councillors, is to ensure that the town council meetings have ‘a quorum’ – this is the minimum number of councillors required to make proper decisions and to make sure it doesn’t fall to one person. For Arlesey Town Council, an example of a quorum is having 3 of the 7 councillors present in order to pass a motion at a committee meeting.
Co-opting Central Bedfordshire councillors was seen as a temporary measure until a sufficient number of the vacancies could be filled, however, these three Central Bedfordshire Council members serve on the town council to this day.