Election process

To become a councillor you have to stand as a candidate at an election and compete with other candidates to gain the most votes from the local electorate. Candidates can stand as a party candidate or as an independent candidate.

May 2023 elections

Elections to the West Suffolk Council and to parish and town councils in West Suffolk are being held on 4 May 2023.

If you are interested in becoming a district councillor, please read: Electoral Commission - Local elections in England

If you are interested in becoming a parish councillor, please read: Electoral Commission - Parish council elections in England

Information about the election process, including the notices, nomination packs and election timetable will be published on: Current vacancies and elections

West Suffolk Council will be hosting two online briefings in February and April to run through the details of the election process. 

The first briefing covers the timetable, nominations, role of the agent, the campaign and then an overview of postal voting, polling day (including voter ID) and the verification and count. A second briefing will then be held closer to the election to cover the finer details with postal voting, polling day and the verification and count. 

The dates and times for the briefings are below:

Please email elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk if you would like to register to attend the briefings.

Legal criteria

To become a candidate you must be at least 18 years old at the date of nomination and be either:

  • a British citizen
  • an eligible Commonwealth citizen, or
  • a citizen of any member state of the European Union

You must also meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • You are, and will continue to have an entry on the electoral register.
  • You have occupied, as owner or tenant, land or other premises in the area for 12 months.
  • You have worked in the area for 12 months.
  • You have lived in the area for 12 months or in the case of a parish or town council have lived within 4.8 km of the parish or town for the previous 12 months.

Candidates may be disqualified if they work for the council or hold a politically restricted post with another local authority. All candidates may be disqualified if they are declared bankrupt or have a previous criminal conviction with a three-month or more prison sentence.


Any person wishing to stand as a candidate will need to complete the following paperwork:

  • a nomination paper, countersigned by two registered electors for area in which you are standing for election
  • a consent to nomination, confirming that you are willing to stand for election and witnessed by one other person
  • an appointment of election agent (district council only), unless you are taking this role on yourself.

If you are a candidate for a registered political party you will also need to submit:

  • a certificate of authorisation from the political party
  • a request to use the party emblem on the ballot paper.

What do I need to do to become a councillor