Being a councillor
Councillors are elected to the local council to represent their local community, so they must either live or work in the area. Becoming a councillor is both a rewarding and privileged form of public service. You will be in a position to make a difference to the quality of other people’s daily lives and prospects, you will become someone your community will look to for help, guidance and support - a community leader with the power to influence decisions for the benefit of the people you serve.
Being an effective councillor requires both commitment and hard work. Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents and the Council. These will all make legitimate demands on a councillor’s time, on top of the demands and needs of their 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.
For further details, please contact a Councillor, or the Parish Clerk. A guide to Parish Councils and Election FAQ can be found here. You can also contact the Electoral Services Team at Mid Sussex District Council https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/elections-voting/
Alternatively, you can visit the Electoral Commissions website. This webpage contains all the guidance and resources that you need if you are a candidate at a parish or community election in England.
You will receive guidance from your fellow members and the Clerk to the Council.
You will also be offered Training using The Surrey and Sussex Associations of Local Councils (SSALC) represents the interests of its 316 member Local Councils across East and West Sussex and Surrey. Surrey and Sussex ALCs are affiliated to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). The role of the Association is to train represent and encourage its member Councils to ensure the first tier of local government has a voice.
To stand for election on a parish council, you must:
- be a UK or Commonwealth citizen
- be a citizen of the Republic of Ireland
- be a citizen of another Member state of the European Union
- be at least 18 years old
To be eligible to stand for an election for a particular parish, you must:
- be an elector of the parish
- for the whole of the previous 12 months have occupied (as owner or tenant) land or other premises in the parish
- during the previous 12 months have worked in the parish (as your principal or only place of work)
- for the whole of the previous 12 months lived in the parish or within three miles of the parish boundary
If you do become a parish councillor you will have to sign up to the Parish Council's Code of Conduct.
The main Council meetings are usually once a month, to which members of the public are also invited. Meetings may last two or three hours, depending on what’s on the agenda. Some councils may also have adopted committees that deal with specific subjects, where recommendations will be made for Councils consideration. The Commitees often set their own public meetings to discuss subjects such as Planning.
Once elected, parish councillors sit on the council for a maximum of four years. If they then want to stay in the post they can stand for re-election.
It doesn’t mean that you have to stay for four years, if you find it’s not for you or you can no longer meet the commitment you can stand down.