How to become a councillor

Councillors from Hoxton.

Credit: Hoxton Councillors

Making a difference to daily lives and improving prospects in your local community is one of the many rewards for becoming a local councillor.

If you’ve been keeping abreast of politics recently, you’ll surely have heard about councillors and what they do. They’re people elected by their own community to represent local views, making sure that decisions the council take are in everyone’s best interests. If you’re willing to stand up for what you believe in and make a difference, and you’re truly dedicated to your neighbourhood, becoming a councillor could be perfect for you.

Do I have the right skills?
Being able to engage with your local community is the most important factor in becoming a councillor. Not only will it help you discover issues close to people’s hearts and discuss improvements they’d like to see, you’ll also need to encourage people to vote for you. People will want to hear good ideas, too, and problem solving and analytical skills will really help here. Can you look at every aspect of a problem and come up with a solution?

Isn’t it a lot of work?
It depends. Councillors always have to fit their elected lives around home life and jobs, but if you’re committed to helping out your community it won’t be a problem. Small, rural councils may only need 5 hours a week from their councillors, whereas larger councils can sometimes need 20 hours a week or more from their elected representatives. But for all the extra effort, you’ll be instrumental in making lives better where you live.

Sounds great! Are there any requirements?
A few. You’ll need to be

  • a British/Commonwealth/EU citizen,
  • at least 18 years old, and
  • registered to vote in your area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election.
  • The Electoral Commission has lots more information on the rules you’ll need to follow.

    Will I get paid?
    You won’t get a salary but you’ll receive an allowance for any expenses incurred and your time. The rate varies from council to council, but every councillor is rewarded with gratitude and thanks from the people they serve. Priceless!

    Is there any support available to help me?
    Most councils have an induction scheme to help new councillors get to grips with the job, and many will provide you with a computer or tablet to get the job done. More and more councillors are choosing case management systems like eCasework to help them solve problems for residents, but you might prefer to juggle the emails, phone calls and social networking services yourself.

    Where can I find out more?
    If you’re gagging to get involved, we strongly recommend taking a look at Be A Councillor which has tons of information, as well as stories from other people that took the plunge and love their elected life. You can also talk to your local council or take a look at the Elections section on their website.

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