Becoming a Councillor
Councillors are elected to represented a number of local residents in an area called an Electoral Ward. They are the voice of the local community and represent local views and interests.
Gosport Borough Council is currently made of up of 28 Councillors that represent 14 Electoral Wards.
This webpage provides you with information to help you if you're considering standing for election. Gosport Borough Council elections are held every two years when one-half of the Council retires.
Why become a Councillor?
Councillors are at the heart of the local decision making process. It is their job to make sure that the Council Taxpayers money is spent wisely. Residents rely on Councillors to represent their interests and ensure that they are getting the best possible service at a value for money price.
There are many areas where Councillors can get involved and have a real impact on services to the public. Policy is decided both at the national and local level and Councillors have the opportunity to scrutinise and comment on both types of policy.
What is the role of a Councillor?
The role of a Councillor is varied and demanding. As a Councillor you would represent the views of local people with a special emphasis on those in your own Ward. Your role will also depend on whether you are in the majority party or in the opposition.
Councillors are a key component in setting policy, scrutinising service delivery and sitting on Boards such as Regulatory (Planning) or Housing. At an equally important level is the carrying out of ward work and resolving problems for the electorate.
Being a Councillor is a commitment and will require an investment by you to improving the local area for residents, visitors and businesses alike. It is both challenging and very rewarding.
How long is your term of office?
All Councillors are elected for a term of 4 years. Councillors elected in a by-election would serve the remaining term applicable to the Councillor they are replacing. The Council is elected by halves, meaning one-half of the Council is elected every 2 years.
How much time would I need to invest in being a Councillor?
It is possible to spend a lot of time on Council work. It can be a challenge to balance this with having a job, a family and hobbies. Most of the meetings you would attend as a Councillor are in the evening. Meetings are open for the public to attend unless an item is deemed to be exempt, and in such circumstances a resolution will have to be passed to exclude the public.
You will receive many e-mails and letters plus phone calls from residents, businesses and council officers. You will also need to read reports and other Board/Committee documents in preparation for meetings.
The full Council meets approximately 5 times a year and can last for an hour or more.
What experience do I need to become a Councillor?
The main requirement for being a Councillor is that you care about the local community and want to further improve the Borough of Gosport for future generations.
You are expected to dedicate some of your time to Council work and be willing to learn about the services and workings of the Council. Your knowledge and confidence will grow quickly as you make a valued contribution to the democratic process in the Borough.
What training and support would I receive as a Councillor?
To help you carry out your duties, you will be provided with an initial information pack relating to the Council. Officers of the Council both centrally and in the service areas will be able to provide you with professional support and information to help you understand and tackle local issues.
Democratic Services located on the first floor of the Town Hall will provide you with advice, guidance and administrative support in relation to meetings of the full Council, Boards and Sub-Boards . Officers in the team are also responsible for introducing you to related training and development. The Chief Executive and Head of Personnel under the Members Information Pack on the Members portal have put together a booklet on 'Training Opportunities for Members'.
On becoming a Councillor you will be provided with a lap-top computer for your use. You will be using e-mail, the internet and Microsoft packages. Full IT training will be given and tailored to suit your needs.
Do I get paid to be a Councillor
Councillors receive a basic allowance to reimburse time and expenses incurred while on Council business. The allowance is reviewed annually.
A Councillor will also qualify for a special responsibility allowance when taking on an extra role such as the Chairman of a Board. These allowances vary according to the role.
You can also be reimbursed for any travel expenses incurred whilst attending Council meetings outside of the Borough.
The electoral process
Elections are usually held on the first Thursday in May and the process begins towards the end of March when a Notice of Election is published. This includes the nomination timetable and who to contact for advice if you wish to stand for election.
After the nomination period, the Council will publish the names, addresses and descriptions (if any) of the candidates. Just before the election there is a Notice of Poll which contains details of the date of the Election, details of the candidates and where to vote.
Can I represent a political party?
If you wish to stand as a political representative, you will need to contact and join the local political party. You are advised to do this as soon as possible in case the party has already started its selection process. The political party will be able to advise you on their Councillor selection criteria.
If you do not wish to represent a political party, you may stand as an Independent candidate. If you wish to stand as an Independent, please contact the Electoral Services Office on 023 9254 5227 or email@example.com for further information.
Qualifying to become a Councillor
To stand for election, you need to fulfill the following criteria on the day of election:
- you are over 18 years of age;
- you are a Commonwealth Citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or a citizen of another Member State of the European Community;
- you are registered as a local government elector in the Borough of Gosport OR you have lived or worked in Gosport for the whole of the 12 months preceding the date of nomination OR you have owned property in Gosport for the whole of the 12 months preceding the date of nomination.
You would be unable to stand for election for the following reasons:
- you are bankrupt;
- you have a criminal conviction which has a minimum penalty of three months in prison within the 5 years preceding the election;
- you have been found guilty of a corrupt or illegal practice within 5 years preceding the election;
- you work for Gosport Borough Council or hold a politically restricted post with any local authority
Electoral Services can provide detailed information on the nomination process. You may also want to contact The Electoral Commission via their website www.electoralcommission.org.uk The Electoral Commission produces guidance for candidates nearer election time.
The information above is produced by the Returning Officer, Town Hall, High Street, Gosport, Hampshire, PO12 1EB. It is produced to do nothing more than assist you and is for information only. No guarantee as to the accuracy of the information is given. This information relates to Borough elections but the majority of the procedural matters relating to elections can be applied to County elections subject to minor amendments relating for example to electoral areas, for instance Divisions rather than Wards. You will wish to seek advice about this. The make up of Gosport Borough Council and not Hampshire County Council should be noted.