Becoming a councillor
Are you interested in becoming a Town Councillor?
What matters to you in Crowborough? Is it the parks and recreation grounds, the need for more activities for young people, the town’s nature reserves, the allotments, the cemeteries – or any of the many other areas the town council manages and maintains? Whatever it is, why not get involved by becoming a town councillor?
Perhaps you are already involved in local affairs and want to take the next step. Or you may be looking for a worthwhile and rewarding way to help your local community. There are approximately 20,000 local councillors in England, each representing their local community and all with their own reason for doing so. No other role gives you a chance to make such a huge difference to quality of life for people in your local area.
Why not watch our video to find out a bit more about what it’s like to be a town councillor here in Crowborough…
What is expected of a councillor?
A councillor’s role and responsibilities include things such as:
- Representing the ward for which they are elected
- Developing and reviewing council policy
- Community leadership and engagement
Do I need any special skills or experience to be a councillor?
No! It is important that councils have councillors who not only reflect and represent the communities they serve, but also have a broad range of skills and life experience. You don’t have to be highly educated or have a profession. Skills gained through raising a family, caring for others, volunteering, or being active in faith or community groups can be just as valuable. Whilst you don’t need any special qualifications to be a councillor, having or being able to develop the following skills, knowledge and attributes will help you in the role:
- Communication skills
- Problem solving and analytical skills
- Team working
- Organisational skills
- Ability to engage with your local community
Who can be a councillor?
Almost anyone can be a local councillor, as long as you are:
- British or a citizen of the Commonwealth
- At least 18 years old
- Registered to vote in the area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election.
However, you cannot be a councillor if you:
- Work for the council you want to be a councillor for, or for another local authority in a politically restricted post
- Are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
- Have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including suspended sentences) during the five years before election day
- Have been convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice by an election court.
If you are in any doubt about whether you are eligible to stand as a councillor, you should contact the returning officer in the electoral services department at Wealden District Council for advice.
Do I have to be a member of a political party?
No. You can either stand as an independent candidate, or as a group or party political candidate. The political parties in your local area are already looking for people interested in representing them and will be pleased to hear from you. They will be able to support your election campaign and your work as a councillor. Don’t worry if you’re not already a party member as they will be able to go through all the options with you. Some parties have special training and encouragement schemes for new candidates. Some places have organised residents’ associations or community groups which put candidates up for election. Alternatively you can stand as an independent candidate. For further information on how to do this, please contact Electoral Services at Wealden District Council.
Are you considering becoming a councillor? The documents and links below are here to help you as you consider this new venture. A council can seem a daunting place if you have never been involved with one before – but it is made up of people just like you who are interested in their town and its issues and just want to make a difference. Hopefully, this is the start of your exciting journey towards being a councillor for Crowborough – why not read on to find out more…
As you start thinking about becoming a councilor, you may want to read the suggested Person Specification. This is for your guidance only – to give you an idea of the types of skills you may need if you are a councillor. The ‘Good Councillor Guide’ is produced by the National Association of Local Councils and also contains information about what you could expect if you were to be elected or co-opted to the role. Finally, ‘Understanding Local Government’ is produced by the government to help us understand the roles of different local councils. There are also links below to the government’s ‘Become a Councillor’ webpage and the ‘Be a Councillor’ webpage run by the Local Government Association – both of which contain helpful information and guidence.
If you are elected or co-opted as a member of Crowborough Town Council, you will have to adhere to the Members Code of Conduct. A copy is included here so that you can read through it in advance of standing for election or co-option. Crowborough Town Council holds all its members to the high standards listed in this document. All councillors are also legally required to fill out a Register of Members Interests Form and you can have a look through the form here, so you know what you will be expected to complete. A copy of this form must be published for members of the public to see.
As a member of Crowborough Town Council you will be expected to attend Full Council meetings. On average, the Council meets every two months but there are times when additional meetings are scheduled. The current meeting schedule will give you an idea of how many meetings are held in the year. A council year starts on 1st April, with the Annual Statutory Meeting held each May, so you will note that the meeting schedule runs from May to May annually.
You will also have the opportunity to sit on one or more of the council’s committees. Why not read through the committee Terms of Reference below to see what each of the committees deals with and which committees you may want to serve on.
Councillors can also choose to represent the council within other organisations. A list of the current representatives is included below so that you can see what organisations currently request representatives and who currently carries out that role for the council.
Finally, as a member of Crowborough Town Council you will also automatically become a trustee for the five Charity Trusts that the council manages. These are Alderbrook Recreation Ground, Goldsmiths Recreation Ground, Silver Jubilee Pleasure Ground, War Memorial and Wolfe Recreation Ground.
The council has a Vision Document which is intended to inform its decision making. You can read a copy of the current document below. There is currently a working group which is meeting regularly to update this and it will be presented to the Full Council again in due course for its consideration. Why not have a look through and see what previous councillors had included – and consider what you may want to see included if you were a councillor?
Perhaps having read some of this information, you would like to speak to one of our current councillors to hear how they find the role. You are welcome to contact any of our councillors to have a chat and you can find their contact details below. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to one of the members of staff here at the council offices to find out a bit more about the day to day running of the council and how officers (staff) work with councillors. The best person to contact is the Town Clerk (Caroline Miles) or, in her absence, the Assistant Town Clerk (Melanie Street) and you can find their details below.
For more detailed information on the council’s policies and procedures, you may wish to visit the Policies and Procedures page of our website by clicking here. You may also be interested in some of the information published as part of the Local Government Transparency Code and you can find that on our Transparency page by clicking here.
The links and documents above are just intended as an ‘introduction’ to the role of councillor and there are many more that we could have included. If you have any questions not covered by the documents above, please do contact the Council Offices on (01892) 652907 or Assistant.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to help answer your questions.
I have decided I would like to become a councillor – what do I do now?
If local elections are scheduled in the near future, the best thing to do is contact the Electoral Services team at Wealden District Council to register your interest, and they will send you a nomination pack for the forthcoming election. You can contact them on 01892 602407 or email@example.com
Alternatively, if no elections are due, why not give us a call here at the Council Offices to chat about any co-option opportunities? We can also arrange for you to speak with the Town Clerk to talk through what is involved in the role. You can contact us on 01892 65907 or firstname.lastname@example.org