What matters to you in your local area?
Is it the state of our local park, the need for more activities for young people, improving services for older people, making the roads safer, better transport or ensuring that local businesses can thrive?
Whatever needs changing in our neighbourhood, you could be just the person to change it by becoming a local councillor. No other role gives you a chance to make such a huge difference to quality of life for people in your community.
Why should I become a Councillor?
There are many reasons why people decide to become a Parish councillor. They include:
- wanting to make a difference and be involved in shaping the future of the local community
- being concerned about your local area and wanting to ensure that the community gets the right services
- wanting to represent the views of local people and ensure that community interests are taken into account
- contributing your business or professional skills
- concerns about one particular issue
Local Government Association research tells us that people are most concerned about issues such as crime, facilities, transport and the environment. Your local council can make a difference on all these issues and many more, and so can you as a Parish councillor.
Could I be a Councillor?
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 the area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election
You can’t be a councillor if you:
- 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 the electoral services department at your local council for advice. (change to contact Jo brook?)
Anyone who is committed and enthusiastic about their local community and environment would make a good councillor. This includes people of all ages, religions and beliefs, from all backgrounds and ethnicities, male or female, disabled people and from the LGBT communities.
If you live or work in Cottenham, and care about the area and issues facing local people, then YOU could make a good local councillor.
Do I need any special skills or experience to be a councillor?
Groups made up of diverse individuals tend to make better informed decisions. It is important that councils have councillors who not only reflect and represent the communities they serve, but also have a broad range of skills and life experience. You don’t have to be highly educated or have a profession. Skills gained through raising a family, caring for a sick or disabled relative, volunteering or being active in faith or community groups can be just as valuable.
While you don’t need any special qualifications to be a councillor, having or being able to develop the following skills, knowledge and attributes will help you in the role.
- Communication skills: These include listening and interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, the ability to consider alternative points of view and to negotiate, mediate and resolve conflict.
- Problem solving and analytical skills: This includes being able to get to the bottom of an issue and to think of different ways to resolve it, including considering the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
- Team working: Being able to work with others in meetings and on committees and being able to complete any tasks that you agree to do on time.
- Organisational skills: Being able to plan and manage your time, keep appointments and meet deadlines.
- Ability to engage with your local community: You may have to make yourself available through meetings, the media, the internet, public forums, debates and on the telephone.
You may have gained skills and knowledge through your professional, personal or community experience. These could include:
- knowledge of the needs of specific
groups such as children and young people, older people or people with health
- an understanding of financial management and reporting processes
- legal and regulatory systems or procedures
- housing, regeneration or environmental issues
- any other skills that relate to the work or facilities provided by the council.
Don’t worry if you don’t yet feel that you have the skills or confidence to be a councillor. We will provide support, information and training for new councillors.
I don’t think I have the time
How much time you spend on your duties as a councillor is largely up to you and will depend on the particular commitments you take on.
Your role within the council will determine how much time you spend on council duties. We hold a Full Council meeting on the first Tuesday of every month and everyone is expected to attend (we know that’s not always possible!) Joining a committee, for example, will increase your workload. You will be expected to attend some committee meetings, which are held in the evenings so that councillors can attend after work. Currently our Planning Committee meetings twice a month, Highways and Finance 4 times per year and Facilities every other month.
As with most things in life, what you get back will depend on how much you put in. But remember, the amount of time you give to it is almost entirely up to you.
Find out more at:
https://beacouncillor.co.uk/ (this is aimed at District/County level but the information is still relevant to the lowest tier of local government).
Contact Jo at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07503 328401 for a chat.