MAKE A CHANGE BECOME A COUNCILLOR EVENT
Leading up to the May 2021 local elections, NALC held a free online public event on everything you need to know about local councils and what they do, the role of a councillor and how to become one. The event featured viral sensation, Jackie Weaver, a group of community heroes and Times Radio presenter, Matt Chorley.
Speakers: Cllr Emily Benner, Croxley Green Parish Council, Cllr Rachael Pearson, Denmead Parish Council, Cllr Dan Thomas, mayor of Much Wenlock Town Council and Jackie Weaver, chief officer at the Cheshire Association of Local Councils
Host: Matt Chorley, presenter for Times Radio and Saturday columnist for The Times, watch the event on YouTube https://youtu.be/fQte7s2bSps
What do Parish Councils do?
Parish councils - also called town councils, neighbourhood councils or community councils in some areas – are responsible for delivering local services.
What do Parish Councillors do?
Parish councillors make decisions about policies and services, keep an eye on how well things are working and represent local residents.
How do I become a Parish Councillor?
Kingsthorpe Parish Council has elections in 2021. On this website you can find out if you are eligible to stand for election and how you can apply.
What's in it for me and my community?
You should consider becoming a parish 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
What Parish Councils do
Your parish council has an overall responsibility for the well-being of your local neighbourhood. Their work falls into three main categories:
- representing your local community
- delivering services to meet local needs
- striving to improve quality of life in the parish
What councillors do
Councillors have three main areas of work:
- Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented
- Monitoring: councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working
- Getting involved locally: as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. This often depends on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available
The day-to-day work of a parish councillor may include:
- going to meetings of local organisations such as tenants' associations
- going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community, such as the police, the Highways Authority, schools and colleges
- taking up issues on behalf of members of the public, such as making representations to the principal authorities
- running a surgery for residents to bring up issues
- meeting with individual residents in their own homes
Why should I become a councillor?
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. Parish, town, community and neighbourhood councillors are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. By standing for your parish council you could make a real difference to your local neighbourhood.
Can I become a parish councillor?
Most people can stand for election, however there are a few rules. You have to be:
- a British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth or the European Union, and
- 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election
You cannot stand for election if you:
- are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
- have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine
- work for the council you want to become a councillor for
There are specific rules around candidacy. The full range of disqualifications for candidates is quite complex and some exceptions may apply. Full details can be found on the website of the National Association of Local Councils.
Which parish council can I stand for?
You can become a parish councillor for any parish in which you are in the list of electors or during the whole of the preceding twelve months you:
- occupied land as owner or tenant in it, or
- had a principal place of work there, or
- resided in or within three miles of it
How much time will I need to spend?
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.
Quite often councillors say that their duties occupy them for about three hours a week. Obviously, there are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a local councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work.