Becoming a Labour Councillor

Sedgemoor after the 2015 elections

On May 2nd 2019 there will be elections for Local Government across the country. Labour is committed to fighting for every seat and to do that we need people to come forward and offer themselves as candidates to stand for the Councils. This page tells you everything you need to know. It relates specifically to  SEDGEMOOR DISTRICT COUNCIL but the rules are the same across the country.

In Local Government people are represented by County Councillors, District Councillors, Town Councillors and Parish Councillors. Town & Parish Councillors represent one Parish. District Councillors represent a group of Parishes called a Ward.

On May 2nd 2019 the elections will be for Town, District and Parish.

The Conservatives currently run Sedgemoor District Council with 35 seats while Labour are the main opposition with 10. This gives us the key chairs of the Scrutiny committees and membership of most committees and also a ‘shadow executive’ function.

If you would like to help us take on the Tories and  become a Labour Sedgemoor District Councillor, the frequently asked questions below may help you.

Q Who can stand for election?

A: Almost anyone can be a Councillor but you must be:

  • At least 18 on the day of nomination
  • A British subject or an Irish Republic or European Union citizen living in the United Kingdom.
  • On the Sedgemoor District’s electoral register or have lived, worked or owned property in the district for at least the last 12 months.
  • You will also need to have your nomination signed by ten people who are on the electoral register in the ward you wish to contest (while you can do this yourself, the Labour Party will of course help you)

You can’t stand for election if you:

  • Already work for Sedgemoor District Council.
  • Are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
  • Have a criminal conviction involving a prison sentence of three months or more (including a suspended sentence) in the last five years.
  • Are otherwise specifically disqualified from holding office by order of the court.
Labour are leading the fight to overthrow the Tory dictatorship of Sedgemoor District Council

Q: Do I need any qualifications to be a district councillor?

A: No. In fact, you don’t even need any previous experience.  If elected, you will be offered training to help you carry out your duties. Labour Councillors come from all walks of life, and we welcome people from all backgrounds who bring different skills and experiences to the table.

Q: What do Councillors do?

A: The main role of councillors is to represent their ward and the people living in it.  However, if you have been elected as a Labour Councillor you will also be required to attend Labour Group meetings and work within a common policy framework and respect the rules and procedures of the local party and Labour group. Councillors are the bridge between the community and the council.

Councillors need to:

  • Keep informed about the needs of their area.
  • Represent their community on Sedgemoor District Council and other bodies.
  • Be accessible to the people in their area and, ideally, available by telephone, email or in person.
  • Play a leading role in their area and keep in contact with local groups, societies and town and parish councils.
  • Keep the people in their area informed about their work.
  • Councillors also participate in the political management of the council.  All 48 councillors agree the budget and the council’s policy framework.  Additionally, councillors may be asked to serve as members of panels, committees or the Cabinet.
  • Most meetings are open to the public, and you are welcome to attend if you would like to see how Sedgemoor’s political structures work.
  • Councillors may also represent Sedgemoor on a wide range of local and regional outside organisations such community organisations, partnership boards, charities and trusts.
  • Councillors can spend several hours a week attending meetings and reading documents.

Q: How do Councillors keep in touch with their wards?

A: There are many ways that Labour councillors can keep in touch with their wards.

They include:

  • Holding surgeries
  • Issuing newsletters
  • Setting up a website
  • Campaigning on local issues
  • Working with the community to find solutions to local problems
  • Helping to win resources for their ward
  • Supporting local partnerships and organisations

Q: What’s the time commitment?

Could the Tories lose Sedgemoor?

A: Depending on a Councillor’s particular role, the time commitment can range from a few hours each week to several hours every day.

Councillors need to be committed to attend training and development as part of the induction process, attendance for newly elected Councillors is compulsory.

Councillors need to attend meetings, which are usually held at Bridgwater House. Most meetings are currently held in the daytime but some meetings are held in the evening. If you are in employment, you may need to discuss the time commitment with your employer.

Other calls on councillors’ time may involve evidence gathering for scrutiny exercises and attending seminars and briefings. Councillors also need to devote some time to induction and training.

For most of the meetings councillors attend, there are associated papers, which need to be read beforehand.

Local people look to councillors for help in dealing with their problems, whether or not these fall strictly within Sedgemoor District Council’s remit. Councillors receive a lot of post, telephone calls and emails.  Not every caller will telephone at a reasonable hour.

Q: What standards of personal conduct are expected of Councillors?

bw election
Bridgwater election history

A: The way councillors act in office, particularly over matters where they have a financial or personal interest, is governed both by law and by a code of conduct.

Councillors are required to sign a declaration stating that they undertake to observe Sedgemoor District Council’s code of conduct for councillors.  They are also required to declare certain financial and other interests that they have.

Q: Do Councillors get paid?

A: Each Councillor receives a basic allowance of £4,434, which is paid in monthly instalments.

The allowance recognises the time devoted by Councillors to their work, including inevitable calls on their time such as meetings, and incidental costs such as the use of their home and telephone.

In addition, Councillors may claim travel and, in some cases, subsistence for their attendance at approved events.

Bridgwater Town Council 2015. Labour 14 Tories 1 Lib Dem 1.

Some Councillors also receive a special responsibility allowance in recognition of particular duties they undertake. Leader of Council receives £24,387. Deputy Leader £13,302 Executive members £6,651 Chair of Planning £9,976.50 Deputy Chair of Planning £7,759.50 Committee Chairs £4,434 Deputy Chairs £2,217 Opposition Group Leaders £3,325.50 Planning Ctte member £1,108.50

Nb Town & Parish Councillors are NOT paid.

Labour Councillors are expected to pay a % of their allowance into Group funds for election campaign and training purposes

Q: How long is the term as a District Councillor?

A: Four years.You can stand for re-election at the end of the term if you wish.  You can also resign before the four years are over, but we will be seeking people who will stay the course!

Q: Can I be a District Councillor and keep my existing job?

A: Yes. Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 says that an employer is required to permit an employee reasonable time off during the employee’s working hours to perform any of the duties as a member of a local authority, which includes attending committee meetings. However, there is no statutory right for time off with pay to be granted for this purpose.  You should discuss this with your employer.

Q: Will the public be able to contact me at home or via Sedgemoor District Council?

labour 3
The Red Flag still flies proudly in Bridgwater ‘

A: Yes. The public will be able to contact you via Council and should also be able to contact you at your home address.

Q: Are computers and stationery provided for Councillors?

A: Yes. Computers   offer a fast and efficient means for Councillors to keep in touch with their community. They also help to reduce communications costs. More and more council business is being transacted electronically. To make sure that they are kept fully briefed, Councillors need to use computer systems.

Sedgemoor District Council provides Councillors with a laptop.  All Councillors receive IT induction training and ongoing support as required. Councillors are also provided with an email address that appears on Sedgemoor District Council’s website along with their contact details.

Council stationery, along with photocopying, and postage of letters on council business are provided.

Additionally, there is a Members’ Room at Bridgwater House where current publications and council documents may be viewed.

Q: What training and development is available for Councillors?

labour women
Bridgwater ‘s female candidates in 2015

A: 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. The Labour Party also provides training

Q: Where can I get nomination forms?

A: You can complete an online request form, phone or email for nomination forms. Contact details for Sedgemoor’s Electoral Services are available on their website but the local Labour Party will co-ordinate this for you. These will not however be available or eligible for submission until the election is actually called some 6 weeks before the date.

Q: What’s the difference between Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and the local Town or Parish Council?

A: In Somerset there are three levels of local government, county, district and town or parish. Somerset County Council sources and manages Somerset’s education, roads, highways, library services and social services.

Sometimes Labour MPs come to visit

Sedgemoor District Council manages services such as recycling and refuse collection, street cleaning, planning and building control, housing, community and economic regeneration, environmental health and licensing, and some parks.  It also administers benefits and the collection of council tax and business rates in Sedgemoor.

Town and Parish Councils manage the upkeep of some local parks, benches and street lighting and organises the cutting of grass and verges in the local parish boundaries.  Town and Parish Councils also act as consultees for planning applications.

 Q: How do I become a LABOUR Councillor?

Red Flag over Bridgwater

A: You need to fill in an application form which you can get from the secretary ( which you must return by 13th October. You will then be approved or rejected for a ‘panel of potential candidates’. This ‘Panel’ will be submitted to a meeting of all local wards on 27th October , which you can attend, and they can choose to interview and select who they prefer from that Panel. If selected you will then be required to work as part of the Labour Team to win that seat at the 2019 elections. The campaign will be funded by the Labour Party.

You will need to have been a member of the Labour Party for 12 months. This condition can be waived in ‘special circumstances’.