Monday, 25 March 2013

Become A County Councillor


A campaign has been launched to encourage people who want to represent their community to stand in the County Council elections in May.

All 69 seats of the Council are up for election on Thursday 2 May - and anyone wishing to stand must submit their nomination by Friday 5 April.

Candidates must be aged 18 or over and be British or a citizen of a member country of the European Union or Commonwealth. They do not have to be a member of a political party.

They must either be registered with their local council to vote, or have either lived or worked in the County Council's area for the whole of the last 12 months, or have been the owner or tenant in the Council's area for at least one year.

Councillors will be expected to encourage community participation in decision-making and represent the views of their local community. They also deal with individual cases and act as an advocate for residents in resolving concerns.

When elected, a Councillor will make decisions which will affect everyone living or working in Cambridgeshire, such as setting the Council's annual budget and agreeing its major policies.

The time Councillors spend on their duties varies considerably, but national research suggests they spend an average of 22 hours a week on Council business. Most of this time will be spent on issues affecting the community they serve, but Councillors will also be expected at attend Council meetings. Most of these are held during the day at Shire Hall in Cambridge.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to allow staff a reasonable amount of time off for their work as a Councillor. An agreement of the definition of 'reasonable' is reached between the individual and the employer.

Councillors do not receive a salary, but are entitled to an allowance. All Cambridgeshire County Councillors receive a basic annual allowance of £7,610, which is paid in monthly instalments. Councillors can also claim expenses to cover childcare and travel while on Council business. Those holding a position of special responsibility - such as a member of the Council's Cabinet - receive an additional allowance.

A comprehensive induction programme will be available to all newly-elected Councillors, as well as ongoing support and advice from officers to help them make informed decisions.

Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate must complete a set of nomination papers. These will be available from city or district councils from Friday 22 March and must be submitted by noon on Friday 5 April.

Each candidate is required to be formally nominated by 10 electors who are registered to vote in the electoral division in which they want to stand - one proposer, one seconder and eight further electors.

The elections will be held on Thursday 2 May and the votes will be counted the following day. District and City Councils administer the election on behalf of the County Council.

County Council Returning Officer Wilma Wilkie said: "A County Councillor has an important and influential role to play in the community. It is a rewarding and fulfilling role - a real chance to shape the community, influence decisions and improve life for local residents. Becoming a Councillor also helps to develop leadership skills and gain professional experience, and I would encourage anyone who has the time and commitment to stand in our elections on May 2."

Anyone interested in becoming a County Councillor can find out more by contacting County Returning Officer Wilma Wilkie on 01223 699183 or by e-mail at Wilma.wilkie@cambridgeshire.gov.uk