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Becoming a councillor

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To summarise a councillor's duties very briefly, a councillor is elected to:

  • Represent a constituency and be sensitive to its needs
  • Take a share in determining the policies of the council over its whole area, while still having regard to the needs of their own constituency
  • Ensure that officers of the council effectively carry out our policies
  • Act as a channel of communication between the council and their constituents and vice versa, concerning themselves with complaints and representations made by the public

Who can become a councillor?

To be able to stand as a candidate at a local government election in England and Wales you must: 

  • be at least 18 years old, and
  • be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union.

You must also meet at least one of the following four qualifications:

  • You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the local authority area in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards
  • You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election
  • Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the local authority area
  • You have lived in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.

How do I get elected?

Our councillors are elected every four years and each serves a four-year term. Each political party selects candidates to stand in every ward or sometimes independent candidates stand.

You will need to contact your local political party directly to discuss becoming a candidate if you wish to represent them.

The Electoral Commission provides information about elections in England, including comprehensive guidance for potential candidates.

What time commitment is involved?

Representing residents, attending committees and local organisations’ meetings will take up your time, but people who have full time jobs and family commitments do manage it – it is challenging but also rewarding!

Most committees meet bi-monthly (Planning & Cabinet every four weeks). They start at 6pm or 6.30pm and generally last about 2 hours. You will need support from your family and personal relationships in this demanding role which can take up a lot of your spare time.

If you take on more advanced roles as a councillor, for example, chairing a committee, becoming a group leader or even a Cabinet Lead Member the demands on your time will increase.

Will I be paid as a councillor?

None of the councillors receive a salary. However, each councillor receives a basic allowance. If you have a position of responsibility (e.g. Chair of a committee) you may receive an additional Special Responsibility Allowance. There are also allowances that can be claimed for travelling and subsistence and for the care of dependents whilst you are at meetings.

We will also provide you with the relevant IT tools to allow you to fulfill your job as a councillor. Please be aware that many residents contact councillors via e.mail so good IT skills are required.

Will I receive any training?

Once you are elected there is an induction programme for all new councillors. During this time you will receive an overview of the council from lead officers and also have a tour of the Council Offices and other key sites.

During the first year there is an ongoing training programme and mandatory training for those councillors who serve on committees such as Planning, Licensing and Audit. All councillors are encouraged to regularly attend Code of Conduct training (part of the council’s constitution).

We have recently undertaken a programme of personal development plans for councillors. This is where each councillor will have a confidential discussion with our senior officers about  their role, their training needs and their ambitions for the future. From these plans a training programme is drawn up for councillors.

Can I specialise in areas of interest?

As a councillor, your constituents will look to you to have a wide ranging knowledge of the council, the borough and associated organisations (e.g. the County Council).

There may be scope for you to develop specialisations on topics which interest you within your political group but it is still important to keep up with council issues generally on behalf of your residents.

There are many working groups, panels and other meetings to attend as well as briefings on certain relevant topics. Again your political group (should you decide to join one) will be able to advise you how you might be able to pursue this.

External links

Charnwood Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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