The Role of a Councillor

Councillors play an important role. You will decide what is in the public interest amidst a range of conflicting issues and views. The main parts of a Councillor’s role are:

  • Decision making – you’ll attend council meetings and committees, deciding which activities to support, where council funds should be spent, what services should be delivered and which policies should be put in place
  • Monitoring – you’ll track how effective and efficient services are running and will raise any issues with officers and other Councillors.
  • Getting involved locally - As local representatives, you will get involved in your local community, supporting events and initiatives that will benefit your constituents

Responsibilities include:

  • Raising issues on behalf of members of the public
  • Running surgeries -  giving residents the chance to raise issues in private, and in confidence
  • Meeting with individual residents in their own homes
  • Going to meetings held by local organisations
  • Attending meetings of outside bodies affecting the wider community

Conducting yourself as a Councillor

As Councillors, you are leaders of our communities and are therefore expected to show: selflessness, honesty, integrity, leadership, accountability, openness, stewardship and respect for others.

These principles will help you in your wide-ranging and demanding roles.

Becoming a Councillor

    Criteria for candidates

    To qualify to stand for election as a Councillor you must be 18 or older when nominated and either:

    • A British citizen
    • A qualifying citizen of a Commonwealth  country
    • A citizen of the Republic of Ireland
    • A citizen of another member state of the European Union

    Additionally, you must fulfil at least one of the following:

    • You must be registered to vote in elections in Warrington
    • You must have occupied, as an owner or a tenant, any land or premises in the Warrington borough, during the whole of the 12 months before the day that you are nominated
    • Your main or only place of work during the last 12 months has to have been inside the Warrington borough
    • You must have lived in the borough of Warrington for 12 months
    Restrictions on becoming a Councillor

    You are unable to stand as a Councillor if:

    • You are employed by the council, hold a paid office under the council or hold a politically restricted post
    • You have been declared bankrupt in the last five years
    • You have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to more than three months imprisonment within the past five years
    • You have incurred illegal expenditure (when acting as a Councillor) of over £2,000 and have been found guilty of corrupt or illegal practices under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983

    When are the next local elections held?

    Local elections are currently held in Warrington on an all-out basis every four years, with all 58 Council seats up for re-election. The next election scheduled to take place is on Thursday 7 May 2020. When standing for election you will need to consider whether you wish to stand as an Independent candidate, or as a candidate for a registered political party.

    To stand as a candidate you need to:

    • Complete a nomination paper. Get your nomination papers from the electoral commission website, by emailing the Electoral Services Team or calling 01925 442184
    • Get ten signatures from people who are registered to vote in the ward where you want to stand, including a proposer and seconder.
    • Sign the candidates consent to nomination and complete the registration of political parties’ certification if applicable. This should then be returned to the Returning Officer by the close of nominations which is no later than 4pm on the nineteenth day before the date of the election.

    A briefing for prospective candidates will be held on Monday 16 March 2020 in the Gateway, Sankey Street, Warrington at 6.00pm

    Party Candidates

    If you are interested in standing as a candidate for a political party and are not already a member of that party, you will need to contact them separately.

    Independent Candidates

    If you are standing as an independent candidate, the Local Government Association (LGA) independent group can offer support and general advice.

    Election Agents

    Each candidate must appoint an election agent, although you can choose to act as your own agent. Amongst other things, your agent sees that the election campaign is conducted in line with the law, deals with expenses and generally organises the campaign’s activities.

    Polling Day (Election Day)

    Candidates are entitled to attend the opening of postal votes, polling stations (on polling day) and the counting of the votes (known as the count).

    Candidates can also appoint polling agents and counting agents who may work on their behalf on polling day and or at the count. Postal voting agents can also be appointed to attend the opening of postal votes.

    Support for Councillors

    Officers provide councillors with a range of support to help carry out duties. You will be provided with office equipment like a mobile phone, computer, iPad and stationery. Supporting officers are based in the West Annex of the Town Hall. During your term of office you will form effective relationships with these officers through your attendance at meetings and with day-to-day support and activities provided by them.

    Induction

    Induction sessions are planned for all councillors to help you understand how the council is structured and what your new duties will be. It will also offer the chance for you to meet key senior officers, who can help, support and advise you in your role as an elected representative. Returning councillors are also welcome to attend the induction to refresh their knowledge.

    Training and development opportunities

    During your first few weeks as a councillor you will be invited to attend an informal interview with a senior officer to review skills, experience, personal goals and to agree areas for development. Throughout your term of office, you will be invited to take part in development opportunities tailored to your needs.

    The councillor development forum, a cross party group of members, meet regularly to ensure the best support and development opportunities are provided for councillors.

    What to expect in your early days

    If successful, you are elected for a four year term. You will be asked to accept the office of councillor and the chief executive will witness this process. Once this has been done, you will start your duties. You will be expected to attend some or all of the following as part of your role as councillor:

    • council meetings
    • neighbourhood meetings
    • scrutiny/policy meetings
    • meetings of any external bodies that you have been asked to serve on eg voluntary organisations or public bodies

    We also recommend you read the LGA's councillor’s guide.

    Councillors' allowances

    Councillors don’t get paid as your work is voluntary. However, you do receive an allowance, which is reviewed annually. For councillors who work, employers are required to provide reasonable time off but there is currently no obligation for them to pay for that time off.

    The basic allowance

    Each year all councillors receive a basic allowance of £8321.41 per annum (June 2019). The basic allowance recognises the time devoted to council business and is designed to cover general expenses.

    Further allowances are available for councillors who need to pay for childcare and for councillors deemed responsible for arranging full time adult care for others.

    Special responsibility allowance

    Some councillors also receive a special responsibility allowance for undertaking additional duties, eg chairs of committees.