Be A Councillor, West Sussex County Council

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.

Find out about West Sussex County Council

WSCC covers a large geographical area which is broken down into 70 electoral divisions. 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.
https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/about-the-council/how-the-council-works/council-structure/

Hear from West Sussex County councillors

If you have trouble accessing the quiz, please email elearning@local.gov.uk

TAKE THE QUIZ

TAKE THE QUIZ

If you have trouble accessing the quiz, please email elearning@local.gov.uk

TAKE THE QUIZ

TAKE THE QUIZ

How do I become a councillor in West Sussex?

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:

http://www.local.gov.uk/political-groups

If you are interested in other political parties, please view the Register of Political Parties.

www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/PEF-online-registers

What next?

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.

FAQs

Before the Election:

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:

  • Over 18 years of age on the day of nomination;
  • A United Kingdom, Commonwealth or EU citizen;

 

You must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be registered as a voter in the council area;
  • Have lived in the council area for the past 12 months (though not specifically in the electoral division you wish to stand);
  • Have occupied as owner or tenant of premises or land in the council area for the past 12 months;
  • Had your main place of work in the council area for the past 12 months.

 

You cannot stand for election if you:

  • are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order;
  • have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more, during the past five years;
  • work for the county council or hold a politically restricted job at another council.
  • have been disqualified under legislation relating to corrupt or illegal practices

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

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/141785/Part-2a-Standing-as-an-independent-candidate-LGEW.pdf

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?

Here is a link to a map showing the electoral divisions throughout West Sussex. If you are note sure from this which division you live in, use this link to insert your postcode and find your nearest councillor, clicking on their name will reveal which division that currently represent.

After the Election:

What is the Local Role of County Councillors?

In becoming a member of the County Council you take on an important community leadership role, which will need to be balanced with your contribution to the strategic role of being involved the development of countywide policies and service delivery (see below).

The people you represent will look to you for help in dealing with their problems, even if these do not involve the work of the Council. You are likely to receive a lot of post/emails and many telephone calls. Not every caller will telephone at what you might think is a reasonable hour!

As a local member, residents expect you to:

  • Respond to their queries and investigate their concerns (casework)
  • Communicate council decisions that affect them
  • Be familiar with the division and be aware of any problems
  • Know and work with representatives of local organisations (e.g. town/parish councils, community groups), interest groups and businesses
  • Represent their views at County Council meetings
  • Lead local campaigns on their behalf

Each member approaches the role differently – there is no set way of doing things. The time you have available to fulfil the role will play a big part in this. Some members set aside time when they are available to meet their residents (sometimes known as holding a surgery), others do so by attending meetings and events in the local community. There is also a need to manage the queries and concerns that local residents raise through you – but Council staff can provide you with support in managing your local role.

What is the Strategic Role of County Councillors?

As one of 70 elected members of the County Council, you would not only responsible for representing around 9,000 residents in your division, but also the 836,250[1] people who live in West Sussex. The County Council provides or secures a range of public services for residents that can be considered to be ‘strategic’ in scope. These include: the provision of adults’ and children’s social care, planning and supporting school provision, managing the road network and waste disposal and running the Fire and Rescue Service. This means County Councillors are called upon to consider the interests of residents and communities beyond their immediate area.

[1] ONS estimate in 2015

How much time does being a County Councillor take up?

Being a councillor is hard work. Every day you will be expected to balance the needs of your local area, your residents and voters, community groups, local businesses, your political party (if you belong to one) and the work of the Council. All will make legitimate demands on your time – on top of your personal commitments to family, friends and workplace.

You will need to attend meetings, the majority of which are held during the working day in Chichester and so, if you are working, you will need an understanding employer. For most of the meetings you attend there will be papers which you will need to read beforehand.

Depending on whether you take on any additional roles within the Council (e.g. chairing a committee), the time you spend on Council business can vary from a few hours each week to several hours a day. On average you can expect to spend around 21 hours a week fulfilling the role, and you will also need to take account of travel time to meetings in Chichester and elsewhere.

What meetings are County Councillors expected to attend?

All members are expected to attend:

  • County Council meetings – there are between 5 and 6 of these a year (sometimes known as “Full Council” meetings), which all members should attend. These all take place in Chichester starting at 10.30am and lasting the best part of the day (usually finishing between 3pm – 4.30pm in the afternoon).
  • County Local Committees (CLCs) – All members have a place on their CLC. There are eleven CLCs which meet in the evening three times (usually around 7pm) a year in the local area to consider local issues and consider requests for grant funding.

In addition, all members are encouraged to attend training, information and briefing sessions held approximately once per month, called Member Days.

What additional member roles are there?

Over and above representing your community, dealing with casework and attending County Council and CLC meetings, there are a number of roles you might be invited to take on, such as being a member of a committee or working group. The roles available on committees are proportionate to the political make-up of the County Council following the election. Here is a link to a list of the key committees showing their size and how often they meet. In addition to these there are a number of informal member meetings which members are encouraged to participate in virtually using the IT (videoconferencing) equipment provided.

For more of an insight into the time commitment required for the role we can put you in touch with one of our existing County Councillors or can share samples of diaries for members with specific roles.

Can I get time off from work to fulfil the role?

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.

I don’t have any experience - can I still stand?

Absolutely! You may be surprised at how much relevant experience you have to offer. For example, anyone who is a parent or carer, or provides support to elderly family or friends has experience to draw on, as well as those with a business or public sector background. A full induction and training programme is provided and mentoring with an existing member can be arranged either for those thinking of standing for election or once elected.

Please note that all members are required to have a DBS check carried out (previously known as CRB check).

What support is available to me if I am elected?

A full induction and training programme is provided (a summary of the programme offered to newly elected members following the May 2017 elections is available from Democratic Services on request).

All members are assigned an officer “buddy” to answer questions and guide them through the first few months in the role. Peer to peer support may be available for those elected to represent a political group.

All members are provided with and are expected to use a laptop so they can access their County Council emails and other IT systems like our intranet site for members called the Members’ Information Network (the Mine) and an online telephone system.

Although hard copy papers can be sent out for formal meetings the Council invites members to refer to meeting papers on-line.

Additional support is available for any member with mobility issues or disabilities including hidden disabilities such as dyslexia. Support for members’ health, wellbeing and safety is also available. This includes access to an independent support service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to deal with any personal or professional problem.

Will I get paid?

Members are entitled to receive an annual allowance payable monthly and can claim travel and other expenses including covering the cost of caring responsibilities. A link to the member allowance scheme is provided.

How can I find out more?

  • Attending one of our events (see the key dates section)
  • Watching webcasts of previous meetings
  • Attending your next County Local Committee meeting
  • Talking to one of our existing members – contact Democratic Services who can arrange this (e-mail amanda.drinkwater@westsussex.gov.uk)
  • Join a political party if you wish to represent them and would like to be considered as a candidate (see Contacts section)

Electoral division maps for West Sussex

Click on the link below to access maps showing the electoral divisions in West Sussex.

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.

View Electoral divisions map for West Sussex PDF

Key Dates

The next election will take place in May 2021. Nearer the time we will publish key dates for standing in this election.

To find out more about being a West Sussex County Councillor you are welcome to come along to one of a series of events in the run up to the election.  The first event will take place in Horsham on 23 October between 6pm-8pm.  Book a place on this event.

Events

A series of events are planned in the run up to the 2021 elections.  The first of which will take place in Horsham on 23 October between 6pm-8pm.  Book a place on this event.

Useful Resources

Be a councillor | Stand for What you believe in

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.

Be a councillor guide for disabled people

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

Useful Contacts

LGA contact

Virginia Ponton
Adviser – Leadership and Localism

07464 652 938
virginia.ponton@local.gov.uk

West Sussex County Council contacts

Helen Kenny
Head of Democratic Services

0330 222 2532
helen.kenny@westsussex.gov.uk

Charles Gauntlett
Senior Adviser – Council & Member Support

0330 222 2524
charles.gautlett@westsussex.gov.uk

Electoral commission contact

The Electoral Commission (main office)
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ

0333 1031928
pef@electoralcommission.org.uk

District Councils Electoral Officers

Adur & Worthing Councils

Teresa Bryant

01903 221014
elections@adur-worthing.gov.uk

Arun District Council

Lauren Fairs-Browning

01903 737610
elections@arun.gov.uk

Chichester District Council

Jo Timm

01243 534592
elections@chichester.gov.uk

Crawley Borough Council

Andrew Oakley

01293 438346
elections@crawley.gov.uk

Horsham District Council

Elections Team

01403 215280
elections@horsham.gov.uk

Mid Sussex District Council

Terry Stanley

01444 477222
elections@midsussex.gov.uk

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