Almost anyone can become a councillor. You do not need any specific qualifications. Councillors come from all sorts of backgrounds and, if anything, life experience is the most important attribute you can bring to the role.
Belonging to a political party is not necessary. Some people stand as independent candidates, separate from political parties.
Thought about becoming a councillor but don't know what's involved?
There will be drop-in sessions for anyone interested in becoming a councillor on:
Monday 6 March 2017 at Cumbria House, 117 Botchergate, Carlisle CA1 1RD
Monday 13 March 2017 at the County Hall, Kendal LA9 4RQ.
Drop in anytime between 4pm and 7pm - no need to make an appointment. Alternatively contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The easy answer is, "almost definitely". As long as you are:
• British or a citizen of the Commonwealth or European Union
• At least 18 years old
• Registered to vote in Cumbria or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election
You can't be a councillor if you:
• Work for Cumbria County Council, or for another local authority in a political 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 5 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 email@example.com for further information.
You can choose to stand for election as an independent candidate or as a party political candidate.
The Electoral Commission website provides information about elections in England, including guidance for potential candidates.
If you want to represent a political party you will need to contact your local branch directly to discuss becoming a candidate.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires your employer to allow you a reasonable amount of time off for your work as a councillor.
You may need to discuss this and agree the details with your employer.
Many employers recognise that the skills people develop as councillors are very useful in the workplace.
Here are some other websites that may be useful to you:
• Local Government Association 'Be a Councillor' Campaign - Experiences of other councillors
• Electoral Commission - Guidance for potential candidates
• Local Government Association - Political Groups
• Local Government Association Councillors Guide 2016/2017
Councillors do not receive a salary. However, each councillor currently receives a basic annual allowance.
If you have a position of responsibility, like chairman of a committee, you may receive an additional allowance. Details of the Members Allowances Scheme can be found in the Constitution.
As a Councillor, the people you represent will look to you to have a wide-ranging knowledge of the Council, something we will help and support you in achieving, but there are also opportunities for you to develop specialisations on topics which interest you.
For example, there are many topic-based working groups and panels, such as Scrutiny Task Groups which you may be able to participate in. The Council is also asked to appoint Councillors to Outside Bodies, which can be local organisations, county wide groups or regional bodies.
An induction programme will be planned to ensure you are well prepared for your new role if you are elected. We will publish, in due course, a copy of the full induction programme as well as details of two inductions seminars that will take place in May 2017 following the elections.
You will also be given support to ensure your training and development opportunities suit your needs and develop your skills during your time as a councillor at Cumbria County Council . The Council has a dedicated Member Development Group, with Councillors setting the future direction of support and training to enable you to carry out your duties to the best of your ability.
There is also dedicated support for councillors, ranging from IT to Media Management and on key skills such as Chairing a Meeting.
Regular briefings are also provided to members on areas of importance.
The Pre-election period (sometimes known as 'Purdah') will commence on 23 March 2017 and end at close of polls on 4 May 2017. During that period specific restrictions on the use of Council resources and communications activity are in place. The basic principle is that no activity should be undertaken which could call into question the political impartiality of employees or could give rise to the criticism that public resources are being used for party political purposes.
In order to assist elected members and officers, guidance for the 2017 pre-election period has been prepared and I attach a copy for your information here. I also attach a note setting out what the pre-election period means for employees in practice.