Who can be a councillor?
To be a councillor you must meet the following three criteria. You must be:
- British, from the Commonwealth or the EU
- At least 18 years old
- Registered to vote in the area or have lived/worked/owned property there for a year
You will be barred from becoming a councillor if:
- You currently work for East Hampshire District Council
- You hold a politically restricted post
- You have been previously convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice
- If you have been sentenced to prison for three months or more during the five years before election
What do councillors do?
Councillors are people elected to represent their local community. Every service provided by your local council is managed in their name. Councillors are engaged in committees relating to the smooth running of council services. They highlight local needs and concerns and may also represent a political party.
The role and responsibilities of councillors are rich and varied. In addition to representing the needs of their local ward (the area they are elected to), additional duties can include:
- Reviewing or devising council policy
- Ensuring the council meets its legal responsibilities
- Scrutinising decisions made
- Community engagement
- Responding to concerns in the community
- Where relevant to your role, you will also be expected to represent the council on organisations such as the police, fire and health services, trusts, voluntary groups and other local bodies
Is it a political role?
Although the vast majority of councillors are members of political parties, there is no obligation to do so – independent candidates are just as welcome.
Political parties can provide sound advice and support to prospective councillors and assist in their campaigning efforts in a number of ways. Independent candidates will need to develop their own support network. Once elected, all members receive the same support and training from the council, regardless of any affiliation.
What skills and experience does a councillor need?
You do not need qualifications to be a good councillor, just skills and experiences that best represent your local community. Examples of these could include, skills gained through volunteering or working with community groups.
You need to be well organised and someone who can apply themselves to problems. You will also need to be able to communicate well with a wide range of public and professional bodies.
Can I work and be a councillor?
Yes you can! You don’t have to be retired to be a councillor, just able to represent the needs of your residents. A full-time job is no bar to achieving this.
A councillor will need to undertake duties during normal office hours as part of their role. However, by law, your employer must provide a reasonable amount of time off work for your duties. It is recommended you talk to your employer at the earliest opportunity to discuss the practicalities.
How much time will it take?
The time you need to provide will vary upon the specific demands of your role, but just a few hours a week could make a difference. The actual time you spend will vary dependent on your responsibility to your ward and other responsibilities you may take on board.
Can I afford the role?
A basic allowance (not wage) is paid to all councillors, currently £5,200 per annum. Additional allowances are paid to councillors who take on additional responsibility. Mileage for approved council duties can be claimed at 45p per mile, and rail travel can be pre-booked through the council.
In addition, the council is committed to removing barriers to councillors fulfilling their duties. It will support where possible with particular allowances,for example, allowances covering care for dependents whilst undertaking council business.
What support would I get?
All councillors have access to the Democratic Services Team. The team can assist councillors with any issue large or small and provide a comprehensive training program to nurture and develop key skills of relevance to councillors. A full IT package is also provided to ensure councillors can work effectively.
Get some advice from people in the know…
If you are thinking of becoming a councillor you can talk to current councillors to get their unique perspective in a friendly and informal manner. The Democratic Services Team will be happy to introduce you.
If you want to represent a political party, it is worth talking to your local party group as soon as possible. If you want to stand independently, you will need to establish yourself locally on issues that matter to your local community and build yourself a presence to inform residents’ future voting.
Additionally, you will need to submit your official nomination at least 19 working days before an election, which will require 10 people to act as signatories. You must also provide consent in writing of your nomination.
If you still have questions about becoming a councillor please contact our Democratic Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.