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Why become a Parish or Town Councillor?

As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. Parish, town, community and neighbourhood councillors are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. By standing for your parish council you could make a real difference to your local neighbourhood.

You should 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

Why Become a Parish Councillor

This document explains everything that you need to know about becoming a parish councillor.

Job Description Parish Councillor

This is a model document that you can use to produce your parish councillor job descriptions.

Who can be a Councillor?

Initially, you may have little knowledge of Council work but this will come along with training, support and experience.

As a new Councillor you will bring to the Council fresh enthusiasm and new ideas, a care for your community and a willingness to learn.

A candidate for a Parish or Town Council is qualified if, when nominated –

1. he or she is a British subject or Irish citizen,
2. is 18 years of age, and
3. is either in the list of electors for that Parish or Town or has during the whole of the preceding twelve months:

a. occupied land as owner or tenant in it, or
b. had a principal place of work there, or
c. resided in or within three miles of it.

Why Should I Become a Councillor

This document explains why you should become a councillor and what’s in it for your community.

Disqualifications – you cannot stand for election if you:

are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or interim order
have, within 5 years before the day of the election, been convicted in the UK of any offence and have had a prison sentence (whether suspended or not) for a period of over 3 months without the option of a fine
work for the council you want to become a councillor for.


Qualifications for holding office as a Councillor, the elections procedure and co-option for casual vacancies

Please see Legal Topic Note 8 “Elections”

What next?

If you are considering becoming a candidate for election you are very strongly recommended to contact the Returning Officer at the District or Borough Council to obtain information on what you need to do to be nominated. All of the District and Borough Councils produce guidance on Election Procedures and it is imperative that these are followed or you may find that you have disqualified yourself from candidacy.

This note has been prepared to provide guidance to Members and Officers and to have regard to the National Code of Practice published under the Local Government Act 1986. The note focuses in particular on publicity in the pre-election period. Our thanks to Hertford Town Council for sharing the guidance above on “purdah”.

Uncontested Elections

  • If insufficient nominations are received to trigger an election, the remaining candidates are declared elected.
  • If there is a quorum, the Parish Council will be able to co-opt to fill any remaining vacancies.
    The Parish Council may display a poster to advertise the remaining vacancies.
  • Co-option arises when there is a vacancy after elections through insufficient candidates. It may be seen as an appointment rather than an election but the question of qualifications and, in particular, disqualifications, is still relevant. Also co-opted members have the same status and responsibility as elected Councillors once they are appointed and then sign the declaration of acceptance of office.


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