What matters to you in your local area? Is it giving children the best start in life, ensuring local residents feel safe and secure in their communities, a stronger local economy or helping ensure people can remain independent in later life Whatever needs changing in your local area, you could be the person to change it by becoming a county councillor.
West Sussex County Council can only be as effective, relevant and vibrant as the people elected to run it. The Council needs councillors who are capable, energetic and engaged, with a commitment to local people and a passion for change.
Decisions made by councillors affect the lives of everyone in the area in countless ways. Representing the population of over half a million across West Sussex, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action are the most important tasks that any councillor undertakes.
If you think being a West Sussex County Councillor is for you, test your eligibility to stand and find out more.
County councillors are the elected representatives of West Sussex County Council. They are elected for four years unless they are elected at a by-election, in which case they must stand again at the next normal election for the seat.
Representing people in West Sussex, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action is the most important task that any councillor undertakes. Significantly, it is also often the role that local people value most.
West Sussex County Council covers a large geographical area, which, from May 2017, will be broken down into 70 electoral divisions. County councillors are elected to serve West Sussex and to specifically represent one of these electoral divisions on the council – making a total of 70 councillors. You can find out about the current political make-up of the council here.
To become a councillor you have to stand at local elections and compete with other candidates to gain the most votes from the local electorate.
You do not have to belong to or represent a political party to stand in the elections. You can stand as an Independent Candidate or choose not to have a description to your name. If you wish to represent a political party it must be one of the parties registered with the Electoral Commission.
If you choose to stand for a party you will need to go through their selection process before you can be put forward as their candidate.
If you’d like to find out more about being a councillor for a political party please visit:
If you are interested in other political parties, please view the Register of Political Parties.
In order to stand at the elections you must first a set of nomination papers from the elections officer at your local district or borough council, which will explain the nomination process. These packs are available nearer the election date.
Are there any legal requirements to becoming a councillor?
Yes. The legal requirements to stand as a councillor are as follows:
To qualify as a candidate you must be:
You must meet at least one of the following criteria:
You cannot stand for election if you:
I’m still not sure about whether I am eligible to be a councillor at the 2017 election. How can I find out?
Test your eligibility or read the Electoral Commission’s guidance.
I would like to be a candidate for a political party. Who should I contact?
For contact information about each of the political groups, please see the tab above this one named ‘How do I become a councillor in West Sussex’.
How can I stand for council without joining a political party?
You can stand for council without belonging to a political party. You might find it helpful to read the Electoral Commission’s guidance for independent candidates
Do I need to appoint an election agent?
It is advisable to appoint an election agent to act on your behalf. Your agent would, amongst other things, ensure that your forms are sent in correctly, keep a detailed record of financial expenditure for submission after the election and generally organise your campaign ensuring that it is lawful.
How do I find out which electoral division I live in?
You can find out which division you live in by clicking on the link below and using the post code search facility.
Will I get paid to be a county councillor?
Councillors are not paid a salary but they are entitled to receive a ‘basic allowance’ which is intended to recognise the time devoted to their work on behalf of the people of West Sussex and in connection with council business.
Each council sets its own rate for members’ allowances, and you can find out more information from http://www2.westsussex.gov.uk/ds/constitution/part6.pdf
How much time will it take?
How much time you spend on your duties as a councillor is largely up to you and will depend on the particular commitments you take on. The precise amount of time will depend on the roles and commitments each councillor takes on and can vary. On average councillors can spend up to twenty one hours per week, but the time spent can increase for members allocated to leading roles, such as Cabinet Member or Scrutiny Chairs.
You will be expected to attend some council committee meetings, which are mostly held during the day. As with most things in life, what you get back will depend on how much you put in. But remember, the amount of time you give to it is almost entirely up to you.
Before you consider becoming a councillor you may want to discuss it with your family and friends to make sure they understand what you are taking on. You will need their support as you’ll have to spend some of your spare time on council business.
Will I get time off work?
Yes. By law if you are working, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor. The amount of time given will depend on your responsibilities and the effect of your absence on your employer’s business.
You should discuss this with your employer before making the commitment to stand for election.
What support will I receive?
West Sussex County Council is committed to providing councillors with advice and support for all aspects of their role. After an election, all new councillors have the opportunity to attend an induction programme to enable them to meet the key people who will support them in their role and attend events to familiarise them with the work of the council, the expectations of councillors and ways in which they can carry out key tasks.
Councillors are also provided with ongoing learning and development support to broaden their knowledge, skills and confidence. In the first few weeks experienced county councillors will be available to guide you in getting to know the workings of the county council and your role within it. You will also be offered a “buddy” – your own personal officer contact to signpost you round the council for the first couple of months.
You will also be offered IT equipment which will allow you to access your email, intranet and other services whilst at home or on the go.
What support is available for councillors with special needs?
A mobile audio loop system is available. Specialist office and IT software may also be purchased for councillors with visual or hearing impairment. Councillors with special needs are encouraged to contact Member Services following their election to discuss their personal needs.
How can I find out about Member training and development?
Email MemberDevelopmentInbox@westsussex.gov.uk for further information.
Click on the link below to access maps showing the electoral divisions in West Sussex with effect from 4 May 2017.
Please note: some files are of a considerable size and may therefore take a while to download to your device. All files are in PDF format. The approximate size of each file is indicated in italics.
Council meetings are usually held during normal office hours (10.30am –4pm), but can also occur in the evening. By law your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off to perform your duties as a councillor. However, it is advisable to discuss your intention to stand for election with your employer before submitting your nomination form.
The following link takes you to the Council’s calendar of meetings, which will give you an idea of the number and frequency of meetings:
You can also watch our meetings live via the Council’s webcasting facility:
A summary publication that outlines the role of a councillor and how the council works, gives perspectives from existing councillors and provides contact details for further information.
An interactive workbook, providing a more detailed, practical understanding of the role of a county councillor.
The Electoral Commission Candidate and Agent guidance – a link to all of the current guidance for Candidates and Candidate Agents
Adviser – Leadership and Localism
0207 664 3272
Head of Democratic Services
0330 222 2532
Senior Adviser – Council & Member Support
0330 222 2524
The Electoral Commission (main office)
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Adur & Worthing Councils
Arun District Council
Chichester District Council
Crawley Borough Council
Horsham District Council
Mid Sussex District Council