The following notes aim to give residents who may be interested in becoming a Village Councillor, an idea of what is involved. The first section explains the nomination and election processes. This is followed with a general overview of the role and responsibilities of a Village Council, what being a Councillor involves and a little detail about the Council. The last section sets out what the Council is trying to achieve in terms of objectives.

Standing for Election

Nomination papers for candidates wishing to stand for election may be submitted from Thursday 23 March 2023. The close of nominations for candidates will be 4 pm, on Tuesday 4 April 2023. Nomination papers have to be delivered by hand to Bradford Council’s Electoral Services in Bradford City Hall. An appointments system will be in operation for the delivery of nominations. Nomination papers and further guidance will be available in due course from the Village Council Clerk, Information on the qualification criteria can be obtained from our Clerk.

As there are seven Councillors on Harden Village Council, if seven or fewer eligible nominations are made, the nominated candidates will automatically be elected. If more than seven nominations are made, election of Village Council Members will be decided by a poll on 4 May, with residents voting for their preferred candidates. In the history of Harden Village (formerly Parish) Council, there has never been a contested election.

The Role and Responsibilities of a Village Council

Generally the role of a village council is to improve the quality of community life for their local area and its inhabitants. They can: –

  • Give views, on behalf of their community, on planning applications and other proposals that affect the village.
  • Undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents. In Harden recent examples have included Christmas Lights, War Memorial renovation, a community defibrillator, replacement bench seats and flower bed planting.
  • Work in partnership with others to achieve benefits for the village.
  • Alert relevant authorities e.g. Bradford Council, to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken.
  • Help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.

What Does Being a Councillor Involve?

A Village Councillor is normally elected for a term of four years at each election. During the four year term any vacancies arising are usually dealt with by co-opting new councillor(s) directly onto the Council, after the electorate have been given opportunity to request that a by-election is held. There has never been a by-election request in Harden. 

Councillors can be from diverse backgrounds and of different ethnicity, genders, ages and beliefs. Their political views do not normally extend into their local council work. What local councillors do all have in common is an interest in their local community and a concern for promoting the best interests of it.

Councillors have three main components to their work: –

Decision making – by attending monthly and occasional ad hoc meetings, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be.

Monitoring – councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working.

Getting involved locally – as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. These responsibilities and duties often depend on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available.

Harden Village Council

Harden Village Council comprises seven members plus a Clerk & Responsible Financial Officer, who is paid a salary for undertaking his duties. The current members were elected uncontested in May 2019 and serve for a four year term of office.

The members of the Council elect annually a Chairman, currently Gerwyn Bryan, and a Vice Chairman, currently Kay Kirkham.

The Council meets on a monthly basis, usually on the second Thursday of the month. The meeting starts at 7.15 and lasts about an hour and a half. In addition, further meetings are sometimes called, usually to deal with projects e.g. allotments or topical issues of the day.

Dealing with planning applications is an important part of the work of the Council. The Village Council is a consultee in the planning process; it does not make planning decisions as such, although views expressed by the Council are examined seriously by Bradford Council.

Individual Councillors can also undertake specific tasks in respect of part of the Council’s duties. For example, one Councillor leads on planning matters, others act as liaison with other groups, such as the Neighbourhood Services, Police and Parish Council Liaison group. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the co-opted member will take on extra duties, as the Council tries to match activities with particular interests, as well as taking account of time availability. By and large outside of the monthly meeting the time commitment to the role is not significant.

Harden Village Council – Priorities, Objectives and Approach

The following gives a flavour of the work being taken forward by Harden Village Council: –

Climate Emergency – Harden Village Council became one of the first rural communities in Yorkshire to declare a climate emergency, joining hundreds of larger councils (including Bradford) and the UK Parliament. We’re working with local residents, groups and partners to bring this to life. More details can be found here.

Neighbourhood Development Plan – The Council is working with appointed planning consultants and volunteer residents on a Neighbourhood Plan for Harden.

The Village Council sees this as a very important development in shaping Harden over the next 20 years in terms of housing, land development and other related economic activities. A Project Team comprising members of the Council plus other co-opted residents have been taking this work forward. This process is close to conclusion with Bradford Council about to appoint an independent examiner and we are hoping the plan will go to referendum next May at the same time as the Local Elections.

Allotments – The Village Council has been petitioned by residents with regard to allotment provision. There are currently no allotments in Harden. An online survey suggested there is sustainable demand and we are developing an allotments project and investigating suitable sites.

Communications & Consultation – The Council wishes to be as open as possible in all its dealings. Our website was designed to provide open access to Council proceedings and to include social features and email notifications to residents. The site is being continually improved and developed. We also produce printed newsletters that are distributed to all households in Harden. The Council will undertake to consult as widely and effectively as possible on any major issue which arises, including arranging open meetings for residents to directly express their views.

Community Organisations – The Council will work closely with community organisations for the benefit of the whole village. The establishment of a Small Grants Fund has enabled financial assistance to be given to a number of worthy causes.

Services – Many of the services provided in Harden are undertaken by other providers, so the Council will do its utmost to ensure that these services are continued and provided effectively. In particular, this will involve close liaison with Bradford Council’s Ward Councillors and key members of Bradford Council, for example in Planning and Highways.

Making Harden’s views known – The Council will make every attempt to ensure that the residents views are known and heard, as far as possible, with the objective of influencing important decisions concerning provision of services and policy decisions taken by others. This includes the key area of planning policy, land allocations for new housing and infrastructure improvements.

More Information

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) produces an essential guide for local councillors. The guide is a resource primarily aimed at new councillors but also can be for those thinking about becoming a local councillor. You can download a copy here.

For any further enquiries or questions please contact the Chairman, Gerwyn Bryan or the Clerk, Ken Eastwood, or any member of the Council. Contact details for members are here and the Clerk’s can be found on the contact page.