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Why become a Councillor?
There are many reasons why people decide to become a local councillor. The National Census of Local Authority Councillors in England 2013 found that:
- 90% of respondents wanted ‘to serve the community’
- 58.7% of respondents wanted ‘to change things’
- 54.4% of respondents cited their ‘political beliefs'
Overall, the Census found that the proportions of councillors identifying reasons for wanting to become a councillor were similar across all types of authority, although a slightly higher proportion of those in metropolitan districts identified ‘political beliefs’.
To reflect the diversity of our community, Haringey Council is very keen to attract people from a broad range of backgrounds to stand as candidates.
- How much time is involved in being a Councillor?
- Will I get paid for duties as a Councillor?
- What support will I receive if I am elected?
- Will I get time off work?
- Further information
Being a councillor is not a full-time role. It is for you to decide the level of commitment you are able to give to being a councillor. It also depends on your role within the council and the number of duties you decide to take on.
Some of the issues you need to consider are:
- How your role as a councillor will impact on any family and personal relationships - you will need their support and understanding as you may be spending a lot of your spare time on council business.
- The people you represent will look to you for help in dealing with their problems. You are likely to receive a lot of post, emails and a great many telephone calls, and not every caller will telephone at what you might think is a reasonable hour!
- Most councillors hold at least 1 drop in surgery each month, some hold 2 or even 3 surgeries each month. You may spend some of your time visiting constituents at their homes, or at the council offices, and you may also have to meet with officers of the council to help you with any issues.
- There are usually 5 Full Council meetings each year, which you will be expected to attend.
- There are formal meetings with other council colleagues that start from around 7pm and could last up to four hours. Nearly all committee meetings are held in the evenings from 7pm. Your meetings/commitments may not be evenly spread out over the cycle so some weeks you may be out more evenings than others.
- The average length of a committee meeting is approximately 3 hours but this could vary.
- Many councillors represent the council on one or more outside bodies. Background reading and attendance at meetings of these bodies would increase your time commitment.
- For most of the meetings you attend there will be papers that you will need to read beforehand. These papers can be quite detailed and take time to read and understand.
- If you are elected as a chair, spokesperson or member of the Cabinet, the role can be very demanding as you will take responsibility for some of the council’s expenditure each year.
- If you are a member of a political party there will be additional calls on your time to attend political group meetings. Political groups require their members to attend group meetings in advance of council meetings and possibly training events/seminars organised by the political party.
There is no salary for being a councillor. However, you will be paid an allowance to reimburse you for time and expenses incurred whilst on council business. For more information about the Members’ Allowance Scheme please see Part 6 of the Council Constitution.
- Democratic Services provide full-time dedicated support to meet the needs of councillors including a comprehensive induction programme for newly elected councillors.
- You will be offered a laptop computer for use at home for council business with email and Internet access and a mobile phone.
- You will have access to fully equipped members’ rooms and meeting rooms based at the council offices. All rooms have facilities for both formal and informal use, telephones, computers and printers.
If you are working, by law your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor. The amount of time off will depend on your responsibilities and the effect of your absence on your employer's business. You should discuss this with your employer before making the commitment.