A relatively unknown piece of legislation is that parish and community council elections cannot be held on the same day as a general election if this is the same days as principal council elections.  This means that when they clash, the parish and community elections are automatically postponed for three weeks.  In 2010, this means that parish elections scheduled for 6th May will move to 27th May if there is a General Election on that date.

When elections are postponed

Parish and community council elections are automatically postponed when a General Election is called for the same day on which they were already due to be combined with the scheduled date for elections to principal councils.  This does not mean that there have to be principal council elections within the area where the parish elections are being held, they just have to be held somewhere within the country.

Does this apply to any other elections

These same rules also delay parish council elections when a European Parliamentary election is scheduled to be held on the same day as elections to principal councils.  However for the 2009 European Elections an extra piece of legislation was introduced – The Local Elections (Ordinary Day of Elections in 2009) Order 2008 –  which prevented this from happening.  This means that in most cases parish elections are held on the same day as European Parliamentary elections, however this should always be checked as it isn’t always the case.

Parish and Community Council by-elections

This same law also moves parish and community council by-elections as well as any scheduled elections.

How the election timetable alters

Until a General Election date is set, the timetable for the parish and community council elections will be published as normal as if no General Election were to take place.  However, if there is an expectation that a General Election will take place that year then councils should ensure that the Notice of Poll states that the election will be postponed should, at a later date, a General Election be called for the same day.

If a General Election is announced after the timetable for the parish elections has already started, then a new timetable is published that revises the date of the election.  This means that if nominations have already closed, then they are re-opened and the elections are then run on a new timetable based on the new polling day.

Uncontested seats

If the deadline for nominations in the parish election have already closed when the General Election is announced, any seats where there is only one validly nominated candidate will not have their election rescheduled.  Instead, the one validly nominated candidate will be declared elected.

Useful external links

Electoral Commission guidance on postponement of 2010 parish council elections (PDF)Representation of the Peoples Act 1985Updates and commentLast updated by Anders Hanson on 16th March 2010.
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