Becoming a Councillor

Councillors are the voice of the community, representing local views and interests. They are at the heart of local decision making, ensuring the Council spends taxpayers’ money wisely.

What’s involved

As a Councillor, you would represent the views of local people with a special emphasis on those in your own ward. Your role will also depend on whether you are in the majority party or in the opposition. Up to ten members of the majority party form the Cabinet, which is the principal decision-making body. Other Councillors are called backbenchers.

As well as carrying out ward work and resolving residents’ problems, you may be involved with setting policy, scrutinising service delivery and sitting on bodies such as Planning Committee.

Being a Councillor is a commitment by you to improving the local area for residents, visitors and businesses. It is both challenging and very rewarding.

Time commitment

It can be a challenge to balance Council work with having a job, family and hobbies. Most of the meetings you would attend as a Councillor are in the evening.

On average, as a backbench Councillor you may spend 5 - 20 hours a week on ward work alone. You will receive many emails and letters plus phone calls from residents, businesses and council officers. You will also need to read reports and other Committee documents in preparation for meetings.

If you are elected, your term of office will be four years. Councillors elected in by-elections serve until the next full election.

Training and support

On becoming a Councillor you will be given:

  • a reference file containing ward and Council information
  • information to help you understand and tackle local issues
  • dedicated online support
  • access to a training programme and online training resources

Pay and expenses

You will receive an allowance to reimburse time and expenses for Council business. Travel expenses outside the Borough for Council duties are also paid.

If you take on an extra role such as a Cabinet position or Committee Chair, you will receive an additional special responsibility allowance. The amount varies according to the role.

Experience and qualifying criteria

The main requirement is that you care about the local community and want to improve Richmond upon Thames for future generations. You must be willing to learn about the services and workings of the Council. Your knowledge and confidence will grow quickly.

View more information on becoming a Councillor at the Electoral Commission website.

Political party or independent?

If you wish to stand as a political representative, you must contact and join the local political party in good time ahead of the election. They will be able to advise you on their Councillor selection criteria.

If you do not wish to represent a political party, you may stand as an Independent candidate. Read the Electoral Commission's guide for Independent candidates, and contact the Electoral Services Manager on 020 8891 7196 or electoral.services@richmond.gov.uk for more information.

Contact

For queries about becoming a Councillor:

Email: democratic.services@richmond.gov.uk
Tel: 020 8891 7709

For queries about the electoral process:

Email: electoral.services@richmond.gov.uk
Tel: 020 8891 7196

Updated: 28 May 2014