DESPITE being the foundation of much of Dorset’s local government system, 24 of the county’s parish council wards have not attracted a single candidate.

While some parishes, where most wards can be filled, will be able to co-opt to the remaining seats, the shortage of nominees means that eight parishes will be unable to act from the beginning of next month.

The chief executive of Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils said they would work with people to help fill the vacancies.

More than 130 parish wards across the county will not be listed on ballot papers on May 2 because of a lack of nominees.

Most are in the Dorset Council area, although only one ward of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s three parish councils has more candidates than seats and will see an election.

The Highcliffe ward for the newly-formed Highcliffe and Walkford Neighbourhood Council has five nominees for three seats.

Jacqui Andrews, corporate manager for democratic and electoral services at Dorset Council, said the shortage of candidates reflected the national position.

“If the parish council has sufficient nominations to be quorate, it may co-opt to the remaining vacant seats,” she said.

“In Dorset 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 May 7 when the sitting councillors retire and the council will be unable to function.”

If a parish council has no councillors it cannot co-opt to fill seats and will therefore require another election to be held by June 8.

Twenty-four parishes – all in the Dorset Council area – have had no nominations. Eight parishes or parish groups will have no authority from May 7.

Hilary Trevorah, the chief executive of Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils, said an “impressive number” of people had put themselves forward.

“This is a very important and interesting time for parish and town councils, as they are the closest level of government to their communities and will have an essential role in working in partnership with the new unitary councils in Dorset,” she said.

“We will continue to support over 1,500 newly elected parish and town councillors in their very worthwhile role in making a difference to the health and wellbeing of their residents.”

She added that parish and town councillors were now “more important than ever” and that the association would support work to fill vacancies.

Despite the shortage of candidates for many of the parish wards, town councils across the county will require elections.

Seventy people will be on the ballot paper for Weymouth Town Council's 29 seats while there are 33 candidates for Christchurch Town Council's 19 seats.