Home > Elections > How do I become a councillor?

How do I become a councillor?

The role of a district councillor

Councillors play an important role in ensuring their community's needs are met by making sure that the voices of their residents are heard and representing their views accordingly. Councillors work closely with the communities in their area to improve the quality of life for all residents and they have responsibility for a wide range of issues such as the environment, prosperity, equalities and social inclusion.

On 1 April 2019, East Suffolk Council will be formed – a new ‘super district’ authority, serving the residents, businesses and communities of what was previously Suffolk Coastal and Waveney.

The new district will be served by 55 councillors, each representing a ‘ward’ – the boundaries of which were recently published by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Become one of the first East Suffolk councillors and play a key role in making a difference in the community.

Councillors are likely to be involved in a wide variety of duties:

  • 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
  • Responding to enquiries
  • Representing the council at other meetings
  • Attending party group meetings
  • Looking at the services the council provides
  • Monitoring the performance of the council

Am I qualified to become a district councillor?

There are no formal qualifications that you need to become a councillor, but you do need to meet some legal criteria to be eligible to stand for office. If you meet these criteria and you have an interest in the future of local services and feel passionately about your local area then you may wish to consider standing for election.

To stand for election, on the day of nomination, you must be:

  • 18 or over,
  • and a UK, EU or Commonwealth Citizen,
  • and either be registered to vote on the current register with the local council
  • or have either worked or lived in the council's area for one year
  • or have been an owner or tenant of any land or premises in the council's area for one year

 You cannot stand if:

  • you work for your local council,
  • or you hold a politically restricted post for another authority,
  • or you are subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order,
  • or you have served a prison sentence (including suspended sentences) of three months or more within five years prior to the election,
  • or you have been disqualified under any legislation relating to corrupt or illegal practices.

How long is the term of office?

The term of office for a district councillor is four years, but there is the option to resign part-way through your term if you are unable to continue in your position. If you stand to replace a councillor who has retired during their term you will only serve as a councillor for the remainder of that term of office until the next scheduled elections take place. At the end of the four year term you can either retire or stand again in the next set of elections.

How do I stand for election?

Once you have decided to stand for election you will need to decide whether you wish to stand as an independent candidate, or as a representative of a political party. If you are standing on behalf of a party then you will need to contact them to become a member of the organisation, if you are not already.

The Electoral Commission's website contains lots of useful information for prospective candidates for all types of elections.

Prior to an election a ‘Notice of Election’ will be displayed to advertise the start of the election period and give information about the nomination process. You can request a nomination paper for a forthcoming election by contacting the Elections Team.

The nomination paper must be completed in a prescribed way in accordance with the law. Full details are given in the pack to assist you. A total of 10 registered electors (one proposer, one seconder, and eight assenters) must support your nomination by signing the nomination paper. The completed nomination pack must be handed in to the Returning Officer’s address within the prescribed deadline for that election (full details of the deadline date and the address for delivery will be included in the pack). You are not required to submit a deposit for local government elections.

Support for elected members

Our Democratic Services team provides support to councillors once they are elected. If you are elected you will be invited to take part in an induction programme, introducing you to the workings of the council. Training for councillors continues throughout their term of office on a variety of relevant topics.

The officers working at the council will assist you in any way they can, such as advice about council procedures or problems in your ward.