How to become a Councillor
You should consider becoming a parish or town councillor if:
- You Want To Do Something Positive for Your Community
- You Want To Spend Your Time Productively
- You Can Think, Listen and Act Locally
To stand for election as a councillor, you must satisfy the following criteria on the day you are nominated and on polling day:
- be at least 18 years of age on the day you are nominated
- be a British citizen, a qualifying citizen of a Commonwealth country, a citizen of the Irish Republic, or a citizen of another member state of the European Union
You must also meet at least one of the four following qualifications on the day you are nominated and on polling day:
- be registered as a local government elector for the local authority area in which you are standing
- have occupied as an owner or a tenant any land or premises in the local authority area in which you are standing during the whole of the 12 months before the day you are nominated
- have had your main or only place of work during the last 12 months in the local authority area in which you are standing
- have lived in the local authority area in which you are standing during the whole of the last 12 months
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.
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.
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.
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 number and prefix letter from the current register of electors. 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 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): they must sign it.
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 –
1. he or she is a British subject or Irish citizen,
2. is 18 years of age, and
3. is either in the list of electors for that Parish or Town or has during the whole of the preceding twelve months
a. occupied land as owner or tenant in it, or
b. had a principal place of work there, or
c. resided in or within three miles of it.
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 of the 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.
The Returning Officer
South Northamptonshire Council
Phone: 01327 322121
For further details about becoming a parish councillor please visit:
Further information about the work of parish and town councils is available through:
Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils
6 Litchborough Business Park
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:
- is employed by the local authority, holds a paid office under the authority or holds a politically restricted post within a local authority, as defined in s.2(1) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989
- is subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
- has within five years before the day of election been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence) without the option of a fine
- has been disqualified under Part III of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which relates to donations and other offences)
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.