Becoming a councillor

Role of a councillor and how to become one.

Role of a Councillor

Councillors are elected by local people to plan, run, monitor and develop council business. This includes taking part in partnerships with others to do this. Councillors work to improve the quality of life for people in the Borough.

Councillors usually represent a political party. However, they may be independent. All councillors represent all the residents of the Borough.

The role of councillor can be very varied and it is up to each individual councillor how they work. However, the three main areas of responsibility are:


Many councillors see their first and foremost role as representing their ward and the people who live there. To do this they deal with constituent enquiries, campaign on local issues, take into account local views when considering policy proposals and in decision-making and ensure local people are informed about decisions that affect them.

Community leader

Councillors exercise community leadership by participating in the activities of any outside body to which they are appointed and reporting back to the council.

Policy maker

All councillors are involved in decision making. This can be as a member of the council, the Executive or a committee.

How to become a Councillor

To qualify to stand as a Councillor in Surrey Heath, you must be, on the day you are nominated as a candidate:

  • 18 years of age or over
  • a Commonwealth citizen (which includes a British subject) or a citizen of the European Union (includes Irish Republic)
  • either a local elector, or you live or work or own a property in the area

You can be disqualified from holding the office of Councillor if you:

  • have a conviction for corruption or illegal practices
  • have been convicted within the last five years of an offence with a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for not less than 3 months without the option of a fine
  • you are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order (note: being bankrupt is not a disqualification)

Standing for election

In order to stand for elections, a candidate must submit a nomination paper signed by ten electors for the electoral ward together with consent to nomination, by the statutory deadline. Additional requirements apply if you wish to stand on behalf of a registered political party.

Nomination papers and candidates' packs including details of qualifications and the electoral process are available from Electoral Services approximately two months before an election.


Most employers are prepared, within reason, to grant some time off for Council work. You should discuss this with your employer before making the commitment.
However, the majority of Council meetings are held in the evening to minimise difficulties for those in full-time employment.


The Council provides a comprehensive induction programme for newly elected Councillors and other development opportunities throughout the year. Councillors are entitled to receive a basic allowance to help meet their expenses. There are special responsibility allowances payable depending on the roles and responsibilities of each Member. You will also be provided with suitable information technology equipment and appropriate training and support.