What do town councillors do?
Town and parish councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as a ward or – mainly in smaller councils – the parish, community or neighbourhood council area as a whole. They are elected by people who live in the area.
If a town council is divided into wards an election is held in each ward, the same way elections are held in district or borough wards.
Most town and parish council elections are on the same cycle as the principal authorities, with elections in 2021, 2025, then 2029 and every four years thereafter.
Councillors have three main areas of work:
- Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which activities 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 town councillor may include:
- going to meetings of local organisations such as tenants' associations
- going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community, such as the police, the Highways Authority, schools and colleges
- taking up issues on behalf of members of the public, such as making representations to the principal authorities
- running a surgery for residents to bring up issues
- meeting with individual residents in their own homes
How to become a Councillor
Most people can stand for election, however there are a few rules. You have to be:
- a British citizen, or a citizen of the 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 Electoral Commission.
Now you're ready to take the next step to becoming a councillor.
A prospective candidate must deliver to the Returning Officer for the election a valid nomination paper. Nomination papers may obtained from the Returning Officer at Northampton Borough Council, or from the Electoral Commission or from the Clerk. The candidate's surname, forenames, residence and description (if required) must be entered. The nomination paper must also contain similar particulars of a proposer and a seconder and his or her number and prefix letter from the current register of electors. The Returning Officer has a copy of this register, and the clerk of the local council normally has one.
They must be electors for the area for which the candidate seeks election (i.e. the parish, community or town or the ward if it is divided into wards): they must sign it.
Ordinary elections usually coincide with the election year of the principal council and must be held on the same day.
Find out more
To find out more about the application process and whether you are eligible to stand for election contact your principal council elections office.