How to become a parish councillor

You should consider becoming a parish or town councillor if:

  • you want to do more for your community
  • you want to spend your time productively
  • you can think, listen and act locally.

Effort required

It is possible to spend a lot of time on council work, but most people have jobs, families and hobbies that also demand a lot of time. However, the more you put in the more you and your community will get out.

Generally speaking, the larger your council’s number of electors the larger your workload will be. The times of the meetings vary, as do the venues. Parish and town councils normally meet during the evening. It is important to establish the pattern of meetings and venues to make sure they can accommodate your domestic and/or business arrangements. Most councils meet once a month and many also have committees. If this is the case you would probably be invited to sit on a committee. These usually meet in between the meetings of the full parish council.

Being a councillor should cost you little. There is usually cover for subsistence and travel allowances if your duties take you out of your local council’s area. These allowances will be determined by the council and will be within a maximum laid down by the Government.

Election timetable

Ordinary elections usually coincide with the election year of the district council and must be held on the same day. The interval between elections is four years and therefore your term of office would normally be four years.

Timetable for elections

Event Date*
Publication of notice of election Not later than the 6th day before the day of an election, (DE)
Last date for nominations Not later than 4pm on the 19th day before DE
Publication of list of candidates Not later than 4pm on the 18th day before DE
Last date for withdrawal Not later than 4pm on the 19th day before DE
Polling Between the hours of 7am and 10pm on DE

* In calculating the timetable the following days are disregarded:- Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday, bank holidays and a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning.

Eligibility and requirements

Initially, you will have little knowledge of council work but this, together with experience and confidence, will follow.

As a new councillor, you will bring to the council fresh enthusiasm and new ideas, care for your community and a willingness to learn. You should want to take the council and parish forward.

A candidate for a parish or town council is qualified if, when nominated:

  • he or she is a British citizen, a citizen of any member state of the European Union or an eligible Commonwealth citizen
  • is 18 years of age
  • is either in the list of electors for that parish or town or has during the whole of the preceding twelve months:
  1. occupied land as owner or tenant in it
  2. had a principal place of work there
  3. resided in or within three miles of it.

Next steps

If you are considering becoming a candidate for election you are very strongly recommended to contact the returning officer at the district council to obtain information on what you need to do to be nominated. All of the district councils produce leaflets on election procedures. It is imperative that these are followed or you may find you have disqualified yourself from candidacy.