24 October 2018

Thinking about standing for election as a local councillor…let’s start with the basics – how does your council work?

On 2 May 2019 voters in Brighton & Hove will choose the local councillors they want to represent them on Brighton & Hove City Council for the next four years and we want to make sure that anyone interested in becoming a local councillor can find out more about the election process, what councils do and what’s involved in being a councillor.

Learn more at our public meetings in November

We’re holding public meetings in November 2018 where you can hear from the council’s Chief Executive Geoff Raw and the senior management team about the services the council provides and you’ll also have the chance to meet current councillors who can tell you what it’s really like being a councillor, what you’re likely to get involved with and what you’ll have to do if you’re elected.

It’s also your opportunity to ask questions. The meetings take place on:

  • Thursday 8 November from 6pm to 8pm at Hove Town Hall council chamber
  • Tuesday 13 November from 10am to 12 noon at Hove Town Hall council chamber

You don’t need to let us know that you’re coming to one of the sessions and you’re more than welcome to drop in at any time during these meetings.

What does your council do?

As a unitary council Brighton & Hove City Council is responsible for all local government functions within the city including:

  • planning and licensing
  • education and lifelong learning
  • health and wellbeing
  • children’s and adult social care
  • housing and regeneration
  • community safety and cohesion
  • waste collection and recycling
  • roads and street lighting
  • arts, sports and culture
  • transport

We estimate that – working in partnership with other councils, charities and public sector agencies and business - we provide roughly 700 different services.

How does your council work?

All councils are led by democratically elected councillors who work together to set the council’s vision, direction and budget. Brighton & Hove is currently divided up into 21 areas called wards (PDF). 54 councillors represent those 21 wards. There’s a mixture of two and three councillors in each ward depending on the number of people living in those wards.

Currently there are:

  • 22 from the Labour and Cooperative Group
  • 20 from the Conservative Group
  • 11 from the Green Group
  • one independent councillor

Brighton & Hove City Council currently works within a ‘committee system’, where important decisions are made across six policy committees, they are:

  • Children, Young People & Skills committee
  • Environment, Transport & Sustainability committee
  • Housing & New Homes committee
  • Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities committee
  • Policy, Resources & Growth committee
  • Tourism, Development & Culture committee

Who gets to sit on which committee is decided by the proportion of councillors elected from political parties and as independents and then by the political groups and individuals themselves. Reports come to committees for it to decide on either because it’s a statutory requirement or because a decision is needed as part of implementing a new or ongoing policy.

What will I actually do as a councillor?

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to become a councillor but fundamentally the role offers the chance to make a huge difference to the quality of life for people in your local area. Being an effective councillor requires both commitment and hard work.

Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent (if any) and the council.

A councillor’s role centres around community leadership and engagement, responsibilities include:

  • representing the ward for which they are elected
  • decision-making - developing and reviewing council policy
  • scrutinising decisions taken by the councillors
  • regulatory, quasi-judicial and statutory duties

Practically councillors are likely to be involved in a wide variety of duties including:

  • Preparing for and attending meetings
  • Speaking on behalf of the community
  • Public consultation and campaigning
  • Policy formulation
  • Liaising with council staff
  • Dealing with casework
  • Meeting individual residents
  • Representing the council at other meetings
  • Attending party group meetings
  • Looking at the services the council provides
  • Monitoring the performance of the council
  • Composing speeches
  • Writing articles

Let us know if you need any assistance

We can’t provide transport to get to the sessions but if you need any help once you arrive at the town hall there will be plenty of people on hand to help you.

If you need any assistance at the sessions or can confirm attendance in advance please let us know by contacting our democratic services team on:

  • Email: democratic.services@brighton-hove.gov.uk
  • Telephone: 01273 291066

Discover what it’s like to be a councillor by following us on social media

We hope that people from a broad range of backgrounds will stand for election to become local councillors to reflect the diversity of our community.

If you have any questions about being a councillor you can also use our Facebook page and Twitter account.

Over the next few weeks, we will share more information about being a councillor on our website, our Facebook page and our Twitter account. Make sure to follow us to help you decide if being a councillor is something you’re interested in and can do.

If you have any questions about being a councillor, then get in touch with us on our Facebook page and Twitter account. We’ll be more than happy to help!

You can also learn more about becoming a councillor on the Local Government Association’s website.