What do Parish Councillors Do?
Parish councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as a ward or – mainly in smaller councils – the parish, town, community or neighbourhood council area as a whole. They are elected by people who live in the area.
If the parish council is divided into wards an election is held in each ward, the same way elections are held in district or borough wards. If the council doesn't have wards there is just a single parish council election. This is the case for Hunsbury Meadows Parish Council.
Most parish council elections are on the same cycle as the principal authorities, with elections in 2020, 2025, then 2029 and every four years thereafter.
Councillors have three main areas of work:
- Decision-making: through attending meetings and committees with other elected members, councillors decide which activities to support, where money should be spent, what services should be delivered and what policies should be implemented
- Monitoring: councillors make sure that their decisions lead to efficient and effective services by keeping an eye on how well things are working
- Getting involved locally: as local representatives, councillors have responsibilities towards their constituents and local organisations. This often depends on what the councillor wants to achieve and how much time is available
The day-to-day work of a parish councillor may include:
- going to meetings of local organisations such as tenants' associations
- going to meetings of bodies that affect the wider community, such as the police, the Highways Authority, schools and colleges
- taking up issues on behalf of members of the public, such as making representations to the principal authorities
- running a surgery for residents to bring up issues
- meeting with individual residents in their own homes
Why should I become a councillor?
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. Councillors are community leaders and represent the aspirations of the public that they serve. Parish, town, community and neighbourhood councillors are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. By standing for your parish council you could make a real difference to your local neighbourhood.
How much time will I need to spend?
It is possible to spend a lot of time on council work - but most people have jobs, families and hobbies that also demand a lot of time. However, as with most things, the more you put in, the more you (and your community) will get out.
Generally speaking, the larger your community the larger your workload will be. The times of the meetings vary, as do the venues. Parish councils normally meet in the evening. It is important to establish the pattern of meetings and venues to make sure they can accommodate your domestic and/or business arrangements. Most councils meet once a month and many also have committees, in which case you would probably be invited to sit on a committee. These usually meet in between the meetings of the full parish council.
Quite often councillors say that their duties occupy them for about three hours a week. Obviously, there are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a local councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work.