Becoming a councillor
Could you be a local councillor?
- Do you have a desire to help and become involved in your community?
- Do you believe in helping others to help themselves?
- Do you like a different challenge every day?
- Have you ever shouted at the TV and thought you could do better?
- Are you prepared to stand up and be counted?
- Are you self motivated?
- Are you prepared to take part in learning and development opportunities?
- Do you have time to spare to meet this significant commitment?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it might be time for you to stand as a local councillor.
We need good quality councillors at all levels, who are ready and willing to engage with the community and make tough decisions. This could be by standing as a unitary, town or parish councillor, campaigning on local issues, volunteering or attending meetings.
Types of councillors and services they are responsible for
- fire and public safety
- social care
- waste management
- trading standards
- rubbish collection
- Council Tax collections
- planning applications
- public clocks
- bus shelters
- community centres
- play areas and play equipment
- grants to help local organisations
- consultation on neighbourhood planning
Frequently asked questions about being a Wiltshire Unitary Councillor
After being formally nominated, those standing for election as a Wiltshire Councillor will be sent further information about the council, the role of a Wiltshire Councillor and what to expect on election night and beyond. On election night, elected candidates will be sent a more detailed welcome pack providing full details of Wiltshire Council's welcome and induction process. This will run from 10 to 29 May 2021, so it is important that candidates are available for this period. Training will include:
- Preparation for the first Annual Council meeting (currently scheduled for 18 May 2021)
- Key sessions on the council's services and how the council works
- Statutory based committee training
- Key councillor skills
Your role will be to keep in touch with your local residents (approximately 4,200), represent their views and communicate matters to them. You will liaise with community groups and town and parish councils. Councillors collectively form the Full Council which determines the budget and main policies of the council. Wiltshire Councillors also act as Corporate Parents for children and young people in the care of the Local Authority.
As a councillor you will be expected to adhere to a Code of Conduct and uphold high standards of conduct in public office.
Wiltshire Council is responsible for more than 300 services, from adult social care, to looked-after children, highways maintenance and planning. It is key that our services reflect the needs of Wiltshire residents. Local councillors are a critical link between the public and the council and shape the development of our policies and practices. If you care about your local area, and have time to give, we'd like you to stand.
No, you are able to stand as an independent member. If you wish to stand for a political party, you will need to contact the local party branch.
You do not need any specific qualifications to become a councillor. Life experience is probably the best thing you can bring to the role. Listening and communication skills are important, and so is the ability to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds. A desire to learn, ask questions and exchange ideas will help you to contribute positively to debate and policy development.
Nationally, councillors spend on average 27 hours a week on council business, however this includes councillors that have existing full-time commitments and so may spend fewer hours on their council role, and others that can do much more.
You may spend your time as a councillor:
- managing case work by email, letter or meetings
- being out and about in the community
- attending council and committee meetings, including outside bodies and town and parish councils
- preparing for meetings or carrying out research
- Training and development
- attending meetings of your political group (if applicable).
The role depends on the matters of importance to your local division and how much time you can give. All councillors will, as a minimum, be expected to attend necessary training for their role and attend meetings of Full Council (approximately 4 times per year) and meetings of your Area Board (approximately 6 times per year). The term of office for a councillor is four years.
Find out more about how to stand for election see Electoral Commission: Local elections in England - Guidance and resources that you need if you are a candidate or agent at a local government election in England.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires your employer to allow you a reasonable amount of time off, however there is no requirement this is paid. We recommend you discuss this and agree the details with your employer.
There is a scheme of allowances that councillors receive to ensure they are not out of pocket. These are reviewed on a regular basis and include a basic allowance, special responsibility allowances, travel and subsistence and carer allowances. The current basic allowance for all councillors is £13,833 per year.
Much of your work can be undertaken from home, such as replying to emails or meeting with council officers online. Council, Cabinet and committee meetings of the council all take place at set times, mainly in the day time. Preparing for meetings or carrying out casework can be done at weekends or evenings if you choose. Area Board meetings are held in the evening. You will have access to council offices to access a desk, internet and printing services.
Yes, and a carers allowance is available if you incur expenditure to engage another carer for a dependent in order to carry out an approved councillor duty, such as attend a meeting. The allowance is currently set at the National Minimum Wage. Further details are available by contacting Democratic Services at email@example.com.
You will be provided with a Wiltshire Council laptop and email address to support your role, and access to Microsoft Teams to join meetings virtually. You can use your personal mobile or home phone to keep in touch with the public in your division if you choose. Most councillors will have these details online for the public to contact them on.
Wiltshire is a large county and so a car may help you in your role. However, reasonable public transport costs you incur in your role are reimbursed.
During the coronavirus pandemic, most meetings are taking place online at their usual times.. Ordinarily, meetings take place in the day time at the main council hubs (Trowbridge, Chippenham or Salisbury), however area boards (community meetings of local councillors and the public in your local area) take place in the evening in community locations. You may also want to attend the meetings of parish councils in your division which are in the evening.
The number of meetings you attend will depend on how many committees you would like to be part of, or if you become appointed to a Special Responsibility, such as a Cabinet Member or Committee Chairman.
In your first two weeks as a councillor you will be invited to a welcome day and further training events to cover essential training. The training will be available online and subsequent training will depend on the particular committee work you become involved with. IT training on specific systems is provided, however general IT literacy is beneficial.
You will be provided with an officer buddy who will signpost you to the council information you need. If you stand on behalf of a political party, other councillors from within the party may be assigned to assist you with other matters.
You will be asked to declare your 'interests' upon election and these will be published on the council's website. The Register of Interest will cover matters such as any work you (and your spouse/civil partner) undertake for profit or gain, sponsorships, contract, licenses, land or tenancies in the area of authority, this information is published. Councillors addresses, and phone numbers are typically published online so the public can contact you, however this is not a requirement.
The council is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and will provide the necessary support to meet particular needs where appropriate (reasonable adjustments). Please discuss any requirements you may have at an early stage with the Democratic Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org we can make arrangements to support you.
Standing as a councillor and promoting your campaign
Find out more about standing as a councillor and promoting your campaign on the Local Government Association website.
Democracy and governance at Wiltshire Council
More information about the council's governance arrangements can be found on our council, democracy and elections pages.