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Become a Councillor

At the most local level, electors are represented by District and Parish Councillors.

  • District Councillors represent wards, which are normally made up of a number of parishes.
  • Parish Councillors either represent a whole parish or, where a parish is divided into sections (wards), will represent the electors of a particular area of the parish.

Councillors come from all walks of life. It is important for the district that its councillors represent the population as a whole, and are drawn from as wide a group of people as possible. Therefore, different backgrounds and experiences are encouraged.

People stand for election for many reasons, such as to:

  • speak on behalf of the local community and help local people
  • pursue their political beliefs
  • contribute business or professional skills
  • shape the future of the local community.

Councillors play a vital role in shaping and directing the effectiveness of local services for the benefit of local people. Councillors work with the Police, Health and other public bodies and with the private sector in order to achieve these aims.

The position of a Councillor is vital in the local community as the voice of the community and the champion of the users of local services playing a vital role in the overall effectiveness of local government.

The role of a District Councillor

Becoming a District Councillor means that you can help people to get the services they deserve, and influence the running of the district for the benefit of everyone who lives and works here.

In addition to attending meetings of the full Council you may be asked to serve on one or more of the various committees/panels i.e. in relation to the Overview and Scrutiny function: Governance and Audit Committee, Policy Development Panel and Performance Monitoring Panel; the Regulatory function: Licensing Committee, Planning Committee and Standards; and the Cabinet function.

You will need to spend time reading reports and becoming familiar with issues the Council regularly deals with so that you can make informed decisions. You may be able to take on additional responsibilities further details of which can be found within the individual councillor role profiles, as follows:

Please note: all other role profiles in addition to the Councillor (Elected Member) profile, are special responsibility roles.

As a District Councillor, you are responsible for representing the electors of your ward. The extent to which a councillor is proactive in performing this function is entirely a matter for you as an individual, but you have a duty to represent the interests of all electors, regardless of whether or not they voted for you.

There are certain statutory responsibilities imposed on councillors. These stress, for example, that you must be scrupulous in observing the rules on expenses and allowances, and that you are legally bound to declare any pecuniary interests.

Icon for pdf View the South Holland District Councillor leaflet for more information [46.74KB].

The role of a Parish Councillor

Icon for pdf View the South Holland Parish Councillor leaflet for more information [40.98KB]. We recommend contacting your local Parish Council or Parish Clerk for further advice or information on being a Parish Councillor. 

How to become a Councillor

Some people become councillors as a result of joining a political party at a District Council level. However, many people stand for election as independents. Independents are candidates who do not belong to any political party.

In order to stand as a candidate at a local election you:

  • must be at least 18 years of age, and
  • must be a British, Irish, Commonwealth or European Citizen, and
  • also need to be a local elector or have lived, worked or owned a property in the area for at least a year.

You are not allowed to become a councillor if you:

  • are an employee of South Holland District Council 
  • are employed by another Council in a job that has been designated as politically restricted, that is to say, where the law says you have to be politically neutral
  • have, in the last 5 years, had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) of three months or more
  • have been declared bankrupt, or 
  • are disqualified from standing for election for some other reason, such as having been convicted of an election offence.

If you are considering standing as a candidate for a particular political party, you will need to be a member of that party's local organisation. If you are interested in becoming a District and/or Parish Councillor please contact the Electoral Services Team for further details by calling 01775 761161 or emailing elections@sholland.gov.uk.

For information about standing for a political party, please visit the Electoral Commission website.

Councillor length of service

District and Parish Councillors are elected to serve for a four year term of office. Of course, councillors may resign, become disqualified or die during their term of office, and in such circumstances a by-election may be held.

Election agent

At elections for the District Council, you can take on this role yourself but it is helpful to appoint an agent. If you are a candidate for a political party it may be that one person takes on the role of agent for several candidates. It is the agent's responsibility to ensure that forms are sent in at the correct times and to ensure that a clear and accurate record of financial expenditure is submitted after the election. Elections agents are not appointed at Parish Council elections.

Candidate expenses

If you decide to become a candidate and subsequently spend money on your campaign, it is important to note that you will have to pay for your own publicity material and items used during the campaign. However, if you are a political party candidate you may find that financial help is available.

Although expenses of candidates are not reimbursed by the local authority, you must keep all receipts as these form part of the statement of election expenses which has to be submitted after the election. The expenditure return is required to ensure that the money spent during the election campaign does not exceed the set limit of £600 plus an additional 5p for every entry in the ward/parish register of electors.

District Councillor allowance

All District Councillors receive a basic allowance. Those who hold a position of responsibility, such as being the Chairman of a committee, receive a special responsibility allowance. In addition, councillors can claim for travel and subsistence and carers allowances. Full details of the Councillors Allowances Scheme can be found within the Council's Constitution.

You do not need to pay a deposit to stand in local government elections.

Councillor training

You do not need any previous experience or qualifications to become a District Councillor, just a dedication to the community and a willingness to learn. There will be a programme of induction and training sessions following your election and throughout your term in office. The officers working at the Council are available to assist Councillors in any way they can, such as advice about Council procedures or problems within a ward.