Could I be a councillor?
If you care about the area that you live or work in and the issues facing local people, you could be a councillor.
Perhaps you enjoy reading the local newspaper and often have a strong opinion on the issues you read about. You may enjoy talking to friends and colleagues about what’s going on in the area. You may feel that certain sections of the community or people who live in a particular neighbourhood are getting a raw deal and need stronger representation.
Research tells us that people are most concerned about issues such as crime, schools, transport and the environment. Your local council can make a difference on all these issues and many more, and so can you as a local councillor.
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. One council estimates the time commitment as ranging from five to 20 hours a week.
Your role within the council will determine how much time you spend on council duties. Joining a planning committee, for example, will increase your workload. You will be expected to attend some council committee meetings, which are often held in the evening so that councillors can attend after work.
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.
Why should I become a councillor?
There are many reasons why people decide to become a local 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
- wanting to pursue your political beliefs
- wanting to contribute your business or professional skills
- concerns about one particular issue
- as an extension of what you are already doing through a political party, trade union, charity, voluntary group or school governing body – becoming a councillor can be the next step.
Do I need any special skills or experience?
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:
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.
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.
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 problems
- an understanding of financial management and reporting processes
- 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. All councils provide support, information and training for new councillors.
If you are interested in standing as a Parish Councillor, click here for more information.
If you would like some more information about the role of the partish councillor in Creaton, click here.