How to become a Councillor

You should consider becoming a parish or town councillor if:

To stand for election as a councillor, you must satisfy the following criteria on the day you are nominated and on polling day:

You must also meet at least one of the four following qualifications on the day you are nominated and on polling day:

As a potential candidate you will need to decide if you want to stand as an independent or as a candidate of a registered political party. If you decide you would like to have the backing of a recognised political party you will have to be selected as the party's candidate, before you can stand for election. If you are interested in being selected to stand as a candidate for a political party, you should contact the party concerned.

The role

Parish councillors are elected by the public at an ordinary election, normally held on the first Thursday in May every four years. Being a parish councillor is an unpaid position although allowances to cover costs are sometimes available.

Effort required

Time - It is possible to spend a lot of time on council work; but most people have jobs, families and hobbies that also demand a lot of time. However, as with most things, the more you put in, the more you (and your community) will get out.

Generally speaking, the larger your community the larger your workload will be. The times of the meetings vary, as do the venues. Parish councils normally meet in the evening. It is important to establish the pattern of meetings and venues to make sure they can accommodate your domestic and/or business arrangements. Most councils meet once a month and many also have committees, in which case you would probably be invited to sit on a committee. These usually meet in between the meetings of the full parish council.

Cost - Being a councillor should cost you little. There is usually cover for subsistence and travel allowances if your duties take you out of your local council's area. These allowances will be determined by the council, and will be within a maximum laid down by the Government.

Nomination process

A prospective candidate must deliver, or send by post to the Returning Officer for the election, a valid nomination paper. Details on where to obtain this form will be included on the Notice of Election which will be displayed in your Parish in the event of an election being called. The candidate's surname, forenames, residence and description (if required) must be entered and his or her current electoral register number (including prefix). The Returning Officer has a copy of this register, and the clerk of the local council normally has one. The nomination paper must also contain similar particulars and a signature of a proposer and a seconder. They must be electors for the area for which the candidate seeks election (i.e. the parish, community or town or the ward if it is divided into wards).

Election timetable

Ordinary elections usually coincide with the election year of the district council and must be held on the same day. The interval between elections is 4 years and therefore your term of office would normally be 4 years.

Eligibility and requirements

Initially, you may have little knowledge of council work but this will come, along with experience and confidence.

As a new Councillor you will bring to the council fresh enthusiasm and new ideas, a care for your community and a willingness to learn.

A candidate for a parish or town council is qualified if, when nominated:

What next?

If you are considering becoming a candidate for election you are very strongly recommended to contact the Returning Officer at the district or borough council to obtain information on what you need to do to be nominated. All district and borough councils produce guidance on election procedures and it is imperative that these are followed or you may find that you have disqualified yourself from candidacy.

Please Contact

The Returning Officer
South Northamptonshire Council
The Forum
Moat Lane
NN12 6AD

Phone: 01327 322128

Further information about the work of parish and town councils is available through:

Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils
6 Litchborough Business Park
Northampton Road
NN12 8JB

T: 01327 831482

People who cannot stand for election as a councillor

In accordance with section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972, a person is disqualified from being elected to a local authority if he/she:

The above list of disqualifications is not exhaustive. The full range of disqualifications of candidates at local elections is complex, and some exceptions to the disqualification provisions may also apply. Candidates are, therefore, strongly advised to seek their own legal advice and consult the relevant legislation to ensure that none of the disqualifications apply when considering whether to stand for election as a councillor.

If you are interested in becoming a local councillor, our Head of Legal Services, will be able to advise about the process of making an application.

Contact details

Head of Legal Services
Email this service
01327 322 322

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