Frequently asked questions about being a councillor
Who can become a councillor?
You can become a councillor if you:
- Are 18 or over on the day of nomination
- Have property in or work connections within Tendring
- Are a UK, Commonwealth EU or Irish Republic citizen
- Have not been declared bankrupt
- You are on the electoral roll in the council area
Are there any other restrictions to becoming a councillor?
A person will be disqualified from holding office as a district councillor if they:
- Hold a paid office or employment made or confirmed by the council.
- Have been declared bankrupt in the past five years and have not repaid their debts.
- Have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to not less than three months imprisonment (including any suspended sentence) within the past five years.
Persons can also be disqualified from holding office by order of the court, if they have incurred illegal expenditure (when acting as a councillor) of over £2,000 and been found guilty of corrupt or illegal practices under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983.
How do I become a councillor?
A nomination pack is available approximately 7 weeks before an election. This will include a nomination paper which you will need to complete and a copy of the relevant register for the Ward or Parish in which you wish to stand
If you are thinking of standing as a candidate for a particular political party, then your first step should be to get in touch with that party's local organisation.
These are listed in the business & services section of the BT Phone Book under "Conservative Associations", "Labour Party", "Liberal Democrats", "Liberal Party", "Green Party", etc.
Many parties also have a national website, through which you can get information about their organisations in your area.
The groups currently represented on the Tendring District Council are (in alphabetical order):
- Conservative Party
- Labour & Co-operative Party
- Liberal Democrats
- Tendring First
What should I do if I want to stand for election as an independent candidate?
If you plan to stand for the council as an independent, contact Electoral Services (Tel. 01255 686586or email: email@example.com) who will be pleased to give you more information. .
What does a councillor do?
You will need to attend meetings which may be held during the day or in the evening. Many councillors represent the council on one or more outside bodies. For most of the meetings you attend there will be papers which you will need to read beforehand.
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 and many telephone calls.
If you are thinking of becoming a councillor and would like to know what committee and council meetings are like, you are welcome to come and see. The calendar of meetings is published in May.
View the calendar of meetings
How much of my time will it all take up?
According to the commitments you take on, this can vary from a few hours each week to several hours each day.
What expenses can I claim?
Information about expenses can be found on the page about Members' allowances (document on top right hand side).
Basic Allowance recognises the time commitments of councillors, including such inevitable calls on their time as meetings with officers and constituents and attendance at political group meetings. It is also intended to cover incidental costs such as the use of their homes, telephone and peripherals such as paper and printer cartridge
Certain "approved duties" are eligible for travel and/or subsistence allowances, when necessary.
- Attendance at meetings of the full Council, the Cabinet, committees and sub-committees or formally constituted panels or working parties
- Attendance by councillors at site or similar meetings, approved in advance
- Attendance at meetings of approved external bodies
- Attendance at authorised conferences and / or seminars will attract payment of travel and subsistence within the agreed scale of payments
Special Responsibility Allowances will be payable to those councillors who hold positions within the Cabinet or are Chairmen of Scrutiny Committees, Audit Committee, Human Resources Committee, Development Control Committee or Licensing Committee or are Vice-Chairman of Development Control Committee. The Scheme includes payment to the Leaders of Opposition Groups,
What training will be available for me?
There will be a programme of induction and training sessions for new councillors after the elections which is compulsory. As well as this initial training, there is on-going development training to support councillors to be effective in their roles. Councillors also receive an IT induction course and ongoing support.
There is also an area of the Council’s intranet dedicated to Councillor Development
What equipment does the council provide?
The Cabinet decided to provide all Members with a laptop computer and printer, together with appropriate training, to enable them to carry out their Council duties effectively.
Mobile phones for use on Council business will be offered to all Cabinet Members. Cabinet Members pay for any personal use of their mobile phone.
Phones with answering machine facilities are available to all Councillors except for Cabinet Members or those with SRA’s. Councillors pay for all phone calls.
The Members’ Room in the Town Hall is available for all Councillors during office hours and contains a PC, printer, fax, photocopier and phone for Councillors’ District Council business use.
Official Council stationery including paper and business cards are available from the Members’ Officers in the Town Hall.
What administrative or secretarial support does the council provide?
Secretarial support is provided through the Members’ Officers, Carolyne Chandler and Sarah Creelman.
The Members’ Officers are available to assist Councillors with any queries they may have e.g. directing them to the correct department/officer for advice on a query from a constituent.
How do I get my letters?
Letters for Councillors that are sent to council offices are forwarded to Westleigh House to be sent to the Councillor with the next distribution. There is currently at least one distribution to Councillors each week.
What if I am on holiday?
To avoid any obvious build-up of post at a Councillor’s home that might suggest they are away, Councillors are asked to notify a Members’ Officer when they will be on holiday and arrangements will be made to hold their post at Westleigh House until they return.
Where Councillors wish their post to be dealt with in their absence rather than wait for their return, they are asked to notify a Members’ Officer that they will be away and give them the name of the Councillor to whom their post should be sent until their return.
How are letters that I send to the council dealt with?
All correspondence received from Councillors on behalf of themselves or their constituents will be logged by the recipient using the Council’s database.
Councillors should retain any original documents and send copies only. A photocopier, computer and printer are available in the Members’ Room at the Town Hall.
Councillors should address correspondence directly to the relevant Head of Service. If Councillors cannot identify a relevant Head of Service, they should send correspondence to the Members’ Officers for forwarding. The Member’s Officers will inform the Councillor which Head of Service has responsibility for the matter.
If the query does not relate to matters within the Council’s control, the correspondence will be returned to the Councillor with a note to this effect, for sending to the appropriate body.
Where correspondence addressed to the Members’ Officers relates to matters within the Council’s control, it will be passed to the relevant Head of Service, who will reply directly to the Councillor. The Councillor should reply to their constituent as appropriate.
As correspondence from Councillors should be responded to within five working days, no other acknowledgements will be sent.
Where Councillors have queries concerning a response or the progress of a particular matter, these should be addressed directly to the relevant Head of Service.
What about letters I want to send?
Headed Council paper is available for all Councillors from the Members’ Officers.
All Councillors are responsible for paying the postage on all their outgoing correspondence.
How do I contact the Members’ Officers
The Members’ Officers are situated in the Town Hall.
They are :
- Carolyne Chandler (Tel: 01255 686580) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
- Sarah Creelman (Tel: 01255 686580) Thursday and Friday