Be a Councillor
What's expected of a Councillor, the time commitment and how to stand in elections
Becoming a councillor is a rewarding form of public service. You will be in a position to make a difference to the quality of other people’s daily lives both at local, citywide and occasionally regional level. Brighton & Hove is a top level authority which has responsibility for everything from waste collection and recycling to schools and social services. As a councillor you would also be in charge of setting the council's budget every year including tax rates.
What is expected of a councillor?
You will be representing the residents of a ward within the city as a community leader. You will be developing and reviewing council policy as well taking regulatory and quasi-judicial roles such as deciding if an alcohol license should be issued. Most councillors hold regular drop-in surgeries each month as well as visiting constituents. Residents will also contact you directly and may ask you to contact council services to advocate on their behalf.
Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent (if any) and the council. These will all make legitimate demands on your time, on top of the demands and needs of your personal and professional lives. Before you consider becoming a councillor you may want to discuss it with your family and friends to make sure they understand what you are taking on. You will need their support as you’ll have to spend some of your spare time on council business.
Do I have the time?
Time commitment can range from five to thirty hours a week. Your role within the council will determine how much time you spend on council duties. Joining a planning committee, for example, will increase your workload. You will be expected to attend some council committee meetings, which are often held in the evening so that councillors can attend after work. If you are a member of a political party you will also be expected to attend political group meetings, party training and other events.
How to stand in elections
Anyone can stand as long as they are:
- British or a citizen of the Commonwealth or European Union
- At least 18 years old
- Registered to vote in the area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election.
You can't be a councillor if you:
- work for the council you want to be a councillor for, or for another local authority in a politically restricted post
- are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
- have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including suspended sentences) during the five years before election day
- have been convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice by an election court
You can find all the guidance and resources that you will need if you are a candidate or agent at local elections in England and Wales on the Electoral Commission website.