How to become a local councillor
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and effect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. Parish, town, community and neighbourhood Councillors are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. Why don’t you stand for your local council and see what difference you can make to your local neighbourhood?
How much time does it take up?
Quite often councillors say that their duties occupy them for about three hours a week. Obviously there are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a local councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work
Am I qualified?
Most people are. However there are a few rules. You have to be:
- a British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union, and
- 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election.
You cannot stand for election if you:
- are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
- have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine
- work for the council you want to become a councillor for
There are specific rules around candidacy. The full range of disqualifications for candidates is quite complex and some exceptions may apply. You should refer to the website of the Electoral Commission for full details:
But I’m too young…
Some local councils also run youth councils, which are often made up of young people representing their local schools and colleges. This provides young people with a time and place to meet and discuss matters that affect them. In 2007, the age you can run as a candidate in an election was lowered from 21 to 18. These youth councils are in direct communication with their parish, town, community or neighbourhood council so they can also be involved in decision-making. Contact your local council, or speak to your school or local youth service to find out more. If there isn’t a local youth council you could get together with friends and put forward a proposal to set one up.
If you are interested in offering your services to your community as a local councillor you can either stand for election (local council elections are held every 4 years) or check with the Clerk to your local council if there are currently any casual vacancies – you may be just what they need!