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Become a Councillor

The role of a councillor

A councillor is someone who people elect to represent them in local government. Each councillor represents the people who live in a 'ward', (a geographic area within the district, borough or city).

Some wards - depending on size - may have more than one councillor representing them.

Across Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, we currently have 66 district councillors. They represent our residents across 48 wards.

Councillors have many different responsibilities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Represent the interests of their ward, and of individual 'constituents' (the people who live within their ward)
  • Develop strategies and policies for the area
  • Take part in public consultations and campaigning
  • Respond to enquiries and representations from their constituents
  • Attend, and participate in, Council meetings
  • Represent the Council at external meetings

Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council each have their own Constitution. These constitutions provide the framework within which the Councils conduct business, and make decisions.

Our Corporate Plan sets out our vision, as well as our six strategic priorities.

How many hours does a councillor work?

Time commitments for a councillor can vary, from five hours a week to 20 or more. Hours will vary depending on a councillor's role within the Council and their local community. Councillors who sit on committees, or the Cabinet, will be expected to dedicate more time to their role.

All our councillors receive a financial allowance for their time and work. If a councillor carries out extra responsibilities, they may also be entitled to a 'Special Responsibility Allowance'. Councillors with childcare or caring responsibilities are also able to claim extra allowance, to cover for these costs.

Some councillors may also be in employment elsewhere. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employer should permit the councillor the right to time off to carry out public duties.

Read more information about our Members' Allowances Scheme

Does a councillor need any special qualifications or experience?

No formal qualifications are needed to become a councillor. Previous experience is also not necessary.

However, to 'stand for office' (put yourself forward as a candidate in an election), there are legal criteria that has to be met. Candidates must be:

  • aged 18 or over
  • a UK, EU or Commonwealth citizen
  • registered to vote on the the current register with their local council, or
    • have either worked or lived in the council's area for one year, or
    • have been an owner or tenant of any land or premises in the council's area for one year

You cannot stand for office if you:

  • work for your local council, or hold a politically restricted post
  • are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
  • have served a minimum of three months prison sentence during the five years before the election day
  • have been disqualified under legislation relating to corrupt or illegal practices

How do I become a councillor?

If you would like to become a councillor, you will first need to stand for office.

You will need to fill out nomination papers from the Electoral Commission and deliver them to us:

Download nomination papers

You need to make an appointment with us to deliver your nomination papers. Please email elections@baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk to arrange a suitable date and time. If you try to deliver your papers without having made an appointment, there may not be anyone available to receive them.

Papers must be hand-delivered. However, you do not have to deliver them yourself - for example, one trusted person may deliver the papers on behalf of several candidates.

Read further guidance for candidates (from the Electoral Commission)

'Become a Councillor' event

In September 2022, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils hosted a 'Become a Councillor' event at Endeavour House. The event was open to the public and free to attend.

It provided attendees information about councillors - including how to stand in an election, and their roles and responsibilities.

The event was recorded:

 There were also a number of resources provided at the event:

Further support

If you would like more information about becoming a councillor, the Local Government Association have published some guidance:

Become a Councillor

Our Elections team are also happy to advise you where possible. Please email elections@baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk