To become a county councillor you would need to be elected to one of the 57 seats on the council, representing a local electoral division.
How do you stand for election?
If you wish to stand for election you must be:
- a British citizen, a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or of another European Union State
- over 18 years of age
- included on the Register of Electors for Northamptonshire, or have either lived or worked in Northamptonshire for 12 months preceding the election
You cannot stand as a councillor if:
- In the last 5 years you have been in prison or on a suspended sentence for 3 months or more
- You have been declared bankrupt
- You are an employee of Northamptonshire County Council
- You have been disqualified
The nomination process
To stand as a candidate in the election, you will need to complete a set of nomination papers. These will be available from your local district or borough council once the formal Notice of Election has been published shortly before the election. The Electoral Services office of your local district or borough council will also be able to answer any questions you may have about the nomination process. When you complete the nomination papers, you will need to show that you have been formally nominated by ten electors who are registered to vote in the electoral division in which you want to stand:
- two electors as your proposer and seconder
- eight other electors who support your nomination
You do not have to be a member of a political party to stand as a candidate.
Councillors and employment
Many people who would like to stand as a councillor are concerned about how it will affect their career. This section has been designed to answer those concerns.
What are my rights?
Your rights as an employee are protected by law. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, councillors who are employed are entitled to ‘reasonable’ time off to fulfil their role.
This covers both attendance at council meetings and any other events that you might be asked to attend on behalf of the council. The question of what is ‘reasonable’ time off is not specifically defined, but should take into account the amount of time you need to fulfil your role, balanced against whether you already take any time off for other civic duties (such as being a magistrate) or trade union activities and the impact of your absence on your employer.
Your employer is not required to give you paid time off.
What are the benefits for my employer?
Your employer can benefit through the additional skills and experience you will pick up as a councillor. These can include:
- Transferable skills such as negotiating, relationship management, leadership and decision making
- Various types of training that will help you in your job as well as your role as a councillor
- Increased knowledge of local issues
- Political awareness
Many employers recognise the benefits of employing a councillor and encourage their employees to take on such roles. Some employers allow paid special leave for employees who are councillors. How much leave you can take will need to be negotiated with your employer, and will vary depending on how involved you want to get with the council.
You will receive an allowance as a councillor which can make up for having to take time off work. Currently the basic allowance is just over £9,000 per year, and if you take on extra responsibilities (such as chairing a committee) you would be entitled to additional allowances.
Training available for councillors
Northamptonshire County Council provides training opportunities for all of its councillors. Training sessions we have run in the past have included:
- IT skills, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and email
- Media skills
- Speed reading
- Finance – understanding budgets
- Data Protection and Freedom of Information
- Specialised areas such as development and planning and employment issues