1. When are the Council Elections held?
Council elections in Bath and North East Somerset are held every 4 years on the first Thursday in May.
2. What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Councillor?
To stand for election as a councillor you must on the day you are nominated be:
- Aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit
- Be a British citizen or a citizen of another Commonwealth Country, the Irish Republic or another European Union member state.
You must also meet at least one of the following 4 criteria:
- Be registered to vote in Bath and North East Somerset.
- Have owned or rented property in Bath and North East Somerset during the whole of the 12 months before the date of nomination.
- Have worked in Bath and North East Somerset during the whole of the 12 months before the date of nomination.
- Have lived in Bath and North East Somerset during the whole of the 12 months before the date of nomination.
You cannot stand for election as a councillor if you:
- Are or have been declared bankrupt or sentenced to 3 months or more in prison during the previous 5 years.
- Are or have been disqualified under specific Acts of Parliament.
- Are employed by Bath & North East Somerset Council or in a "politically restricted" post in any other council.
3. Would I Need a CRB Check?
A CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check is not required by law for a person to be elected as a councillor. However, if a councillor is appointed to a post involving substantial access to children or vulnerable adults then a CRB check is carried out to comply with advice on good practice from the national local government associations.
4. How Can I be Nominated to Stand for Election as a Councillor?
The Council publishes the Notice of Election to mark the start of the election process during March.
You may download nomination packs from the Electoral Commission (http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent) or you can obtain copies from the Returning Officer, Electoral Services, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW
You need your nomination papers signed by at least 10 registered electors of the Council Ward in which you wish to stand for election. You must give your consent in writing to be nominated. If you stand as a candidate for a political party you must submit a certificate from their nominating officer authorising this. You may act as your own election agent or nominate someone else to do so to ensure that you comply with electoral procedures.
The Electoral Commission is a national body established by Parliament to oversee elections. It is politically neutral. It publishes guidance for election candidates and agents which is essential reading, http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent.
5. Does it Cost Anything to Stand for Election and Does a Candidate need to Belong to a Political Party?
No in both cases.
6. What is the Term of Office for a Councillor?
Councillors are elected to serve for 4 years so if you are elected in May 2015 you would serve until May 2019.
7. What is the Role of a Councillor?
A councillor is elected to represent the people in his or her electoral division (known as a Ward). There are 37 Wards represented by 65 councillors. 26 Wards have 2 councillors, 10 Wards have 1 councillor and 1 Ward has 3 councillors.
As a councillor you may be asked to deal with front line casework from local people asking for your help in solving problems or making representations about significant issues in Bath and North East Somerset. This work would be generated through personal visits, telephone calls, letters and emails.
You would contribute to community leadership throughout Bath and North East Somerset by speaking to represent the interests of citizens at Council and other meetings, consulting and listening to key local stakeholders and through participating in the Council`s policy and decision-making processes. Further information on the way the formal business of the Council works can be accessed on the Council`s website at: www.bathnes.gov.uk/democracy.
You may be asked to represent the Council on another organisation e.g. a school governing body or a group that works in partnership with the Council.
8. How Much Time Would I Need to Commit to Council Work?
As a councillor the time commitment will vary a lot from a few hours each week to almost the equivalent of a full-time job depending on the role you are appointed to within the Council and the number of commitments you take on. Serving councillors have estimated that frontline work can take between 12 and 30 hours each month. There is a legal requirement to attend at least one Council meeting every six months.
If you are appointed as a Political Group Leader, or the Chair(man) of an Overview and Scrutiny Panel or a Committee you can expect to spend substantially more time on Council business. The Council Cabinet Members need to be able to commit an amount of time approaching the equivalent of a full-time job.
9. Where is a Councillor's Work Done?
As a councillor you would work mainly from home unless attending meetings on Council premises or site visits, seminars, training events etc. elsewhere. There are office facilities at the Guildhall, Bath and the Civic Centre, Keynsham, where councillors may work on computers or hold meetings with colleagues or council officers. The political groups have meeting rooms and offices for their members at the Guildhall, Bath.
10. Are Councillors Paid?
As a councillor you would receive an allowance and expenses for your work. The standard Basic Allowance payable to all councillors in 2014/15 is £7,180 per year. Special Responsibility Allowances are paid for additional roles undertaken. Carers' Allowances are available towards the cost of providing care for dependant children or adults whilst you would be attending some Council duties. An independent panel reviews the scale of allowances on a regular basis.
11. Am I Entitled to Time Off from Work for Council Duties
Employees (except for members of the armed services, merchant seamen and police officers) who are councillors have a right to take reasonable time off during working hours to attend Council and committee meetings and certain other activities approved by the Council. There is no right to be paid for any time off although some employers do as a matter of good practice grant time off with pay. If paid time off is not granted you would need to agree with your employer how to cover any time off you take for Council duties by taking holiday, using flexitime etc.
12. What Support is Available to Councillors?
Currently every councillor is offered appropriate IT equipment to use at home for Council work. IT training is provided for those who need it. The Members’ Support & Development Officer based at the Guildhall is available to assist councillors with processing letters, photocopying and other support work. Each political group currently has the support of either a full-time Political Research Assistant or a part-time Group Support Officer. After each election these arrangements are reviewed.
13. What Training is Available to Newly-Elected Councillors?
A training and induction programme is offered to all councillors after the election to familiarise them with the structure and working arrangements of the Council. Specific training is given for those involved in planning, licensing, policy and development, and cabinet roles. Skills training e.g. IT, media communications, chairing of meetings is arranged. The political groups may also arrange induction for their members.
14. Are there any Rules Governing Councillors' Conduct?
Every councillor when elected must undertake to observe the Council’s Local Code of Conduct. The Council’s Standards Committee, with councillors and independent members of the public, guides and monitors the conduct of councillors as a whole and deals with complaints about the conduct of councillors.
15. What Happens After the Election?
All councillors elected must make and sign their Declaration of Acceptance of Office as soon as possible. If elected you will be asked to attend the Council`s Annual and Ordinary Meeting.. That will decide the Council`s working arrangements including the appointment of councillors to panels and committees.
16. When are Parish and Town Council Elections held?
Elections to parish and town councils in Bath and North East Somerset , for information on the procedures contact the Electoral Services Office at the Guildhall, Bath or your local parish or town council clerk
USEFUL SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION:
Bath and North East Somerset Electoral Services Office, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW; tel. 01225 477431; email: email@example.com
Electoral Commission, 3 Bunhill Row, London. EC1Y 8YZ Tel: 020 7271 0500
Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 2 Marsham Street, London. SW1P 4DF Tel: 030 3444 0000 website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-communities-and-local-government
Further information on any of the topics covered above please contact Democratic Services email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This publication about becoming a Bath & North East Somerset Councillor can be made available in a range of community languages, large print, Braille, on tape, electronic and accessible formats from tel: 01225 477492.