Standing for election as a town councillor
As a local councillor you become a voice for your community and can make real change. Local councillors are the champions of their community who invest time in local projects and issues to the benefit of residents and the neighbourhood.
Local councillors’ responsibilities fall into three main categories:
- Taking part in decision making (developing proposals and voting)
- Getting involved locally
Local councillors attend to local needs of residents, local groups and businesses, make decisions on local services and progress vital projects to invest in the future of the community.
Some councillors may be elected to represent both the Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council; these are totally separate roles.
IS A TOWN COUNCILLOR PAID?
The role of a Town Councillor is unpaid, although not classed as a volunteer; a councillor is an elected holder of public office.
WHAT DOES BEING A TOWN COUNCILLOR INVOLVE IN PRACTICE?
As a minimum, a councillor must attend Full Council meetings which are held every other month. Councillors are encouraged to join at least one Committee, depending on their skills or particular interests, which may be the Finance and General Purpose Committee, Open Spaces Committee, Planning Committee or Staffing Committee. There are also specifically focussed working groups which councillors may join, to develop recommendations for proposal to Full Council. Some councillors also volunteer to act as a council representative on outside bodies, or for local community groups.
WHAT AUTHORITY DOES A COUNCILLOR HAVE?
On their own, a councillor has no authority and cannot represent the council or make commitments or decisions on its behalf. The power of the council comes about when councillors collectively vote on proposals. All decisions taken by the Town Council must be carried by a majority vote, and represent the decision, and position, of the Town Council as a body, not any individual councillors.
If you want to be a councillor because you think it will make you ‘important’, this may not be the role for you! It is all about teamwork, working together to represent the community as a whole.
WHAT SKILLS SHOULD A COUNCILLOR HAVE?
There are no specific skills required; in fact, an effective council will have a diverse mix of personalities and talents, and will be representative of the community it serves. The only requirement is a desire to serve and improve your local community. Anybody from the age of 18 may stand as a councillor, and meetings are held in the evenings which tends to be preferable for most people.
It is helpful if you have a basic grasp of IT, as much council business is carried out by email and online. You do not have to be an expert, however; support and equipment is available to those who need some assistance.
Various training courses are available for councillors, most of which take place in the evenings.
HOW DOES THE COUNCIL OPERATE ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
The Town Council employs a Town Clerk, who fulfils the statutory duty of Proper Office, and at Thornbury, also fulfils the statutory role of Responsible Finance Officer. The Clerk is similar to the Chief Executive of a company; they are responsible for the operational running of the Town Council and ensuring that the decisions of the Town Council are enacted. The Town Clerk reports to the Council as a body and is responsible for managing and directing other staff. The Town Clerk also advises the Council on law and governance, ensuring that the Town Council is managed appropriately and lawfully.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
To find out more information about the work of Thornbury Town Council take a look around this website, or contact the Town Clerk with any questions: email@example.com.
Additional information, including some councillor case studies, may be found on the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) website: https://www.nalc.gov.uk/our-work/local-elections
HOW TO APPLY:
The local election process is managed through South Gloucestershire Council and the Town Council has no direct role in this. Further information, including how to stand for election, is available on their website: https://beta.southglos.gov.uk/stand-for-election
All queries on the election process should be directed to the Electoral Services team at South Gloucestershire Council at firstname.lastname@example.org / 01454 863030.