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Being a parish councillor

Have you thought about becoming a parish councillor? Parish councils are the first tier of our democratic system, are closest to the public and can make a real difference to their neighbourhood. As a councillor, you can become a voice for your community and effect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. The role is voluntary, but any expenses incurred (such as training) will be paid by the council. 

You may consider becoming a parish or town councillor if:

  • You want to do something positive for your community
  • You want to spend your time productively
  • You can think, listen and act locally

Parish councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as the parish. (Although historically linked to the church, this is now a separate system). They are elected by people who live within the parish.

Councillors have three main areas of work:

  • Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which actìvìties to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented
  • Monitoring: councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working
  • Getting involved locally: as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. This often depends on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available

The day-to-day work of a parish councillor may include:

  • Attending regular meetings of the Parish Council and any committees or working groups that the councillor volunteers for
  • Taking up issues on behalf of members of the public, such as making representations to the Unitary Council
  • Occasionally you may be asked to attend meetings of other organisations on behalf of the Parish Council, if you are happy to volunteer for this
  • You will be offered free training, which will either be held locally or online

Am I eligible to stand? Most people can. However there are a few rules. You have to be:

  • a British citizen, or a citizen ofthe Commonwealth or the European Union, and
  • 18 years or older on the day you become nominated for election

You cannot stand for election if you:

  • are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
  • have, within five years before the day of the election, been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over three months without the option of a fine
  • work for the council you want to become a councillor for

There are specific rules around candidacy. The full range of disqualifications for candidates is quite complex and some exceptions may apply. Full details can be found on the website of the National Association of Local Councils.

Below you will find links to further relevant documents.