Make your mark
On 1 April 2019, Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will be replaced by a single new district council called West Suffolk Council.
Elections will be held on 2 May for West Suffolk Council and all parishes in West Suffolk.
While the new West Suffolk Council will entirely replace Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, it will continue to deliver the same top quality services while finding improved ways of supporting communities, businesses and the local economy.
Our make your mark campaign is part of a national drive to encourage people to take part in local democracy.
The Notice of Election will be published on Friday 22 March 2019. Please see the timetable for other key dates.
Nomination papers must be delivered to the Returning Officer, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 3YU between Monday 25 March and, no later than, 4pm on Wednesday 3 April 2019.
It is advised that you contact the elections team on 01284 757323 to book an appointment for the informal check and delivery of your nomination paper/s.
The role of a councillor
One of the main roles of a councillor is to represent their ward or division and the people who live in it. Councillors provide an important bridge between the community and the council. As democratically-elected representatives, councillors have the potential to make a real difference in their community, for the benefit of all.
A guide on the work of local councillors can be found on the website of the Local Government Association.
Do I have the time?
The office of councillor is not a full-time role and it is down to individual councillors to decide how much time they commit to the role and how many duties they undertake. Many councillors have full-time jobs in addition to being a councillor.
The Local Government Association carried out a census of local councillors and found that their average time commitment for council business was around 25 hours per week. The full report can be found on the website of the Local Government Association
How much will I be paid?
There is no salary for being a councillor, however, all county and district/borough councillors are paid a basic allowance, while performing their duties, to cover things like travel costs and to reflect the time it takes to be a councillor.
If a councillor becomes a member of the executive or a chair of a committee, they will receive an additional special responsibility allowance to reflect the additional responsibility and work that they have taken on.
You do not need any formal educational qualifications to become a councillor. There are, however, certain legal requirements you must meet to be able to stand for election.
To be able to stand as a candidate at a local government election in England and Wales you must:
- be at least 18 years old;
- be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union; and
- meet at least one of the following four qualifications:
- You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the local authority area in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
- You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
- Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the local authority area.
- You have lived in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
Apart from meeting the qualifications for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified. There are certain people who are disqualified from being elected to a local authority in England and Wales.
You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:
- You are employed by the local authority or hold a paid office under the authority (including joint boards or committees). Note that you may be ‘employed by the local authority’ if, for example, you work at certain schools, fire services, police or health services. This list is not exhaustive.
- You hold a politically restricted post.
- You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
- You are the Mayor for a combined authority area that the local authority is a part of. The only exception to this is where the combined authority mayoral election and the election of councillors falls on the same day. In that case, you may stand at both contests. However, if you are elected at both, a vacancy in the office of councillor will automatically arise.
- You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.
- You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations). The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years. The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.
A person may also be disqualified from election if they have been disqualified from standing for election to a local authority following a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (formerly the Adjudication Panel for England) or the Adjudication Panel for Wales.
What should I do if I am interested?
The Be a councillor website provides general information about becoming a councillor and how you can make a difference in your community.
If you are interested in becoming a borough or district council, the Electoral Commission has produced a useful guide.
If you are interested in becoming a parish councillor, the Electoral Commission has produced a useful guide.