How to become a councillor
Councillors (also known as members) are normally elected for four year terms, and play an important role in the running of the council.
What do councillors do?
As well as setting policy and overseeing the work of officers they also:
- provide community leadership to the district
- engage with local communities
- act as ambassadors for the council
- represent the community
- act as advocates
Some councillors are also appointed to represent the council on outside organisations such as local partnerships or charities and public bodies.
Most councillors are members of political parties and stand for election as party candidates. The parties form voting groups in the council. In some councils, one party has a clear majority. In others, no party has overall control.
The main duty of a councillor is to represent the community's needs. Their workload can involve:
- council meetings
- committee meetings
- responding to correspondence from constituents
- holding surgeries
- meeting with representatives from pressure groups and organisations
Am I eligible to be elected?
To be eligible to become a councillor, you must:
- be over 18 years of age.
- be a British subject, or a citizen of the Irish Republic, a commonwealth country, a UK dependent territory or another country in the European community.
- be an elector for the area in which you would like to stand, or have either owned property, lived or worked in that area throughout the 12 months immediately before you are nominated. (In the case of parish and town council elections, you may be eligible if you lived, worked or owned land within 4.8 kms of the boundary of that area).
You cannot stand if you:
- are employed by that council.
- have been declared bankrupt within the last five years and you have not repaid your debts.
- have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to not less than three months imprisonment within the last five years.
- you hold a politically restricted post for another authority.
- you have been disqualified under any legislation relating to corrupt or illegal practices.
You do not need any formal qualifications to become a councillor.
How much will it cost?
There is a limit on how much you can legally spend on your election campaign, but these are costs which you (or maybe a party) will have to pay. These are known as election expenses, but please be advised that these are not reimbursable, as the name might otherwise imply.
You do not have to spend anything on your campaign, and at local level there is no deposit to pay - a deposit is only required at Parliamentary and European elections. Once elected, in theory, it should not cost you a lot. There is usually cover for subsistence and travel allowances, but this is something for your council to determine and has to be within a maximum laid down by the government.
Do councillors get paid?
Councillors, although unpaid, receive an annual allowance which reimburses them for time they have spent on council duties, as well as telephone and other office expenses.
Rates differ per council. To find out more about councillor allowances for Lichfield District Council councillors, visit our councillors allowances section.