How to become a councillor

Anyone wishing to become a Councillor, and who is a member of a political party, should first consider standing as a representative for their favoured party, which could be one of the three political parties currently represented on the Council, or any other one. However you should be aware that political parties are likely to select their candidates six months or more before each election. Parties tend to allocate an agent to candidates to help them through the election process and deal with associated paperwork and expenses issues. 

Alternatively you can stand as an independent candidate. If you’re thinking of doing this, you should contact the Council’s Electoral Services Team for advice. You will need to start becoming aware of issues in your local area; what your local Council is doing about these issues; and what your stance is on these issues.

Borough Elections in London are held every four years with the next election scheduled for 3 May 2018.

How much time is a Councillor expected to put into the role, and what’s involved?

Though, once elected, all Councillors work in the interests of the whole borough, they will want to (and are expected to) get to know the Ward they represent and deal with issues residents there bring to their attention. Council officers are happy to help Councillors with such matters. One thing a Councillor may wish to do once elected is set-up periodic Ward 'surgeries' where local people can come to talk to them; but some choose to make themselves available in other ways. Normally, at the very least, a Councillor will be expected to remain regularly contactable by phone and email.

The people a Councillor represents will look to them to help solve their problems, so they may expect a considerable number of letters, emails and phone calls - the latter sometimes at antisocial hours. In serving the community, Councillors are there to help residents with whatever problems they may have: these range from benefit and housing problems to planning, rubbish, parking, street cleaning, and so on - the mix of topics varies greatly with each Ward.

Most new Councillors will serve on one of the Council's scrutiny committees, which have the important job of examining local services to making sure they are effective and meet local needs. These various committees cover all the functions of the Council - planning, education, housing, adult care, children’s care, waste management, street cleaning, libraries and much more. In addition all Councillors attend full Council meetings, when all Councillors come together to discuss major strategies and policies and 'live issues' in the Council Chamber. At the very least a new Councillor will have two or three Council or committee meetings each month to attend, though for some this number could be considerably greater: these are usually held at 6.30pm at Kensington Town Hall, however some committees do meet during the day. Most meetings last two or three hours.

There will also be other local meetings a new Councillor will need to attend, such as school governing bodies or voluntary groups. For most meetings a Councillor will have agenda papers to read in the week running up to the meeting.

If, after serving on the Council some time, a Councillor becomes a Committee Chairman or Executive Member, then the time they have to put in can increase considerably as they become responsible for major decisions, budgets or service areas.

Being a Councillor is not a full-time role, but anyone thinking about standing for election should be clear from the start about the time commitment they will have to make and think about the impact this may have on their employment and on their family and personal relationships.

How much is a Councillor paid?

There is no salary for being a Councillor. However all Councillors are paid a basic allowance (around £11,000 p.a. in 2017/18) to meet travel and other costs and to reflect the time it takes to be a Councillor.

If a Councillor becomes a Member of the Executive or Committee Chairman they will also receive an additional special responsibility allowance to reflect the extra work and responsibility they have taken on. Full details of these allowance entitlements, and allowances paid to each Councillor last year, are published on the Council website.

What training and support can a Councillor expect?

The Council is very keen that every new Councillor is given the training and support they need to get quickly 'up and running'. We offer a thorough Induction Programme and each new Councillor is offered the opportunity to discuss their training and support needs with officers. All Councillors will be given access, both upon their election and for the whole of their service on the Council, to the training they need to help them become fully effective in their role.

The Council recognises that all Councillors need suitable IT in order to be fully effective, and whilst many new Councillors already have their own home (or mobile) IT hardware, the Council can support Councillors with the acquisition of suitable ICT equipment if necessary.

Does a Councillor get time off work?

If a Councillor works, his/her employer must by law allow them to take a reasonable amount of time off, during working hours, to perform their Councillor duties.

The amount of time off required will depend on the individual's responsibilities and the effect that absences from work might have on the employer's business. Someone thinking of becoming a Councillor should discuss these issues first with their employer.

For more helpful and up-to-date information about becoming a councillor, see the 'Be a Councillor' website.