A decision is expected today (Friday) about eight Dorset parish councils which will cease to operate after the first week of May.

Each failed to attract enough candidates for the May 2 elections – with their number so low that on May 7 they will no longer be legally constituted.

Election law says that parish councils can co-opt additional councillors but only if they have a set minimum of candidates who have put their names forward – known a being quorate. None of the eight had enough - some had no candidates at all.

In all more than 130 parish seats across the area covered by the new unitary Dorset Council were without candidates, 20 having no candidates.

Dorset Council say the situation is not unusual and is reflected elsewhere in the country.

The councils affected are – Bothenhampton (No candidates for 6 seats –  but no election in the Walditch ward of the council where there was one candidate for 3 seats), Bradford Peverell (0 for 7 seats), Chettle (0 for 5), Frampton (2 for 7), Holwell (1 for 7), Marnhull (0 for 11), Parrett and Axe Group Parish Council (2 for 6) and the Comptons, Toller and Wynford Group Parish Council (0 for 8).

Each of the areas is expected to now have to re-advertise for candidates with any election, if needed, being held in the second week of June.

The failure to attract enough candidates could have financial implications for the areas involved.

Parishes which will have an election on May 2, the same time as the elections for the new Dorset Council, will only pay half of the cost of their polls. If elections have to be called, or held, outside of the period that council will have to bear the full cost.

Last year a new schedule of costs were agreed for Dorset elections and and parish polls being held from this year onwards.

It was agreed that the cost of elections, including setting up polling stations, which are held at the same time as elections for the Dorset Council will be shared 50-50, although the full cost of ballot papers would fall to the town or parish council. Separate parish elections, or polls, would be charged at the actual cost.

A schedule of charges includes staffing costs of between £335 and £460 per polling station, plus a 'training fee' of £50 for each presiding officer and poll clerk; £5 to prepare each ballot box; £15 per hour for each count assistant and £50 per hour for staff attending and running the count as count manager.

Stand alone elections, which may be needed for some or all of the eight parish councils who find themselves in their current position could be well over £1,000 each in some cases.

Said Jacqui Andrews, corporate manager, democratic and electoral services at Dorset Council: “We have a number of parishes for which we have received no nominations or insufficient to constitute a legally formed parish council. This means that there will be no councillors on 7 May 2019 when the sitting councillors retire and the council will be unable to function..

“The Returning Officer therefore has a duty to order an election to fill the vacancies... The new election day must be within 35 days of 2 May which is calculated as ending on 8 June 2019.”

She said that if there is then sufficient nominations to be quorate, but an election is uncontested, the parish council could seek to fill any remaining seats by co-option if necessary. “In such circumstances, it is possible for Dorset Council to make an Order to bring forward the date on which the parish councillors take office if it so wishes.”