With an advertised vacancy on St Mellion Parish Council, I’ve been reading up this morning on how the co-option process works. Â If ten parishioners formally request an election there will be no co-option but for the purposes of understanding the process, I’m assuming this won’t happen.
The co-option procedure is well documented at various places on the Internet, largely due to other Parishes advertising the process as and when they’ve had need to apply it. Â Fortunately every instance I’ve read states the same procedure so I think it’s fairly safe to assume St Mellion will be no different. Â The interesting part is that St Mellion is represented by a smaller number of councillors than any other Parish I’ve read about.
The first step of the co-option process is for councillors to make nominations. Â A councillor must be present at the meeting to make a nomination and they are free to nominate anyone they like regardless of whether that person has expressed an interest in the vacancy. Â Each councillor can make up to one nomination per vacancy. Â St Mellion has five councillors and just a single vacancy so that’s a maximum of five nominations. Â So far so good. Â However, each nomination must also be seconded by another councillor, with each councillor only allowed to nominate or second, not both! Â With only five councillors, this means that a maximum of only two candidates can be both nominated and seconded. Â Suffice to say, there are going to be a few unhappy people if more than two have expressed an interest.
When a nomination is made, a second is immediately sought. Â If one is not forthcoming, the nominee is excluded and the nominator is unable to nominate or second anyone else for the duration of the round. Â (In St Mellion’s case, with so few councillors, it’s unlikely there would be more than one round of voting.) Â If the nomination is seconded, the nominee is through to the voting stage and the nomination process beings again. Â If two candidates are nominated and seconded, a simple, show of hands vote is performed. Â It’s a reasonable assumption that two councillors will side with the each person (the one they nominated or seconded), leaving the fifth, effectively with the casting vote.
According to the procedure: Should no single candidate receive a majority on the first vote, the person with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the voting process repeats. Â For this to happen in St Mellion, one councillor would have to abstain, leaving a 2-2 vote. Â Presumably the whole process then begins again with the council aware they must try to resolve the previous deadlock. Â It’s unclear what happens if only a single nomination is seconded. Â Perhaps that nominee is an uncontested winner?
I look forward to seeing how this works in practice.