What is a Town/Parish Council?

A town/parish is the tier of local government closest to its community, they are sometimes referred to as local councils.

When a local council is created it is referred to as a parish council. Councils can decide whether they should be called a parish, town, neighbourhood, or community council. They have the same powers and duties, but a town council can elect a town mayor instead of a chairman.

Who runs the Council?

Parish council elections are held every 4 years. The next election for Wotton-under-Edge is on Thursday May 6th 2021. Councillors make up the decision-making body of the parish council. Councillors can be elected in the election or co-opted to the council at other times.

Council meetings are open to the public.

Why become a Town Councillor?

Town Councillors are elected representatives who volunteer their time freely to work on behalf of local residents. Individuals may also be co-opted at the discretion of the council if there is a vacancy. By becoming a Town Councillor, you can become a voice for your community, somebody who residents will look to for help, guidance and support. You will be involved in local decision making and strategic planning for the benefit of the people you serve. Seeing your community change for the better, as a result of decisions you have helped make, is something that can give you a sense of achievement and pride.

What are the roles and responsibilities involved?

  • A Wotton-under-Edge Town Councillor is one of 13 individuals, supported by the Town Clerk and staff, who are elected to represent the voice of residents within the town. This will involve engaging with local residents to ensure that their views are heard, understood, and addressed.
  • As part of the Town Council, you will have responsibility for managing local services and amenities such as the play areas and open spaces, the Civic Centre and the Town Hall, and the allotments and burial grounds.
  • As part of the Town Council you will help to make decisions regarding the finances involved in delivering local services.
  • You will be involved in working to protect and improve the built and natural environment of Wotton-under-Edge. This may involve contributing to long term policy development or assessing and commenting on local planning applications.
  • Working where needed on short term local projects.
  • Liaising and working in partnership with other organisations, agencies, or neighbouring town and parish councils where necessary.

What skills will I need to become a Town Councillor?

A Town Council benefits from diversity and we welcome interest from people of different ages, backgrounds, experiences, and abilities. Good communication skills, problem solving, analytical thinking, and being a team player are all advantageous attributes.

How much time does being a councillor take?

As with anything, what you get out of being a Town Councillor will depend on what you are able to put in. How much time you are able to commit is largely down to the individual and what level of involvement you are hoping for. As a minimum, you would be expected to attend the monthly Town Council meetings held one evening per month. In addition, you will need to be free to attend the meetings of any Committees and working groups that you join such as Town Regeneration, Amenities, Planning and involvement in the many community organisations.

How long does a Town Councillor serve for?

Once elected, Town Councillors can sit on the Town Council for a maximum of 4 years or until the next election. If after that time, you wish to stay in post then you will need to stand for re-election. A councillor will cease to hold their position in the instance of resignation, disqualification, or death.

Do I qualify?

You can stand as a candidate to become a Parish/Town Councillor if:

  • You are over 18 or over on the day you submit your nomination paper and are a British, Commonwealth or European Union Citizen

And at least one of the following qualifications:

  • Are either a registered local government elector in the electoral area you are wanting to stand as a candidate, or
  • Have resided in the area for the whole 12 months preceding the day of nominations, or
  • Work in the electoral area you wanting to stand (and have for at least the past 12 months), or
  • Own property in the electoral area you are wanting to stand (and have for at least the past 12 months), or
  • For the whole of the previous 12 months you have lived in the Parish/Town or within 3 miles of the boundary

You are excluded if at the time of your election:

  • You are employed or hold a paid office with the Council
  • You are subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or an interim order
  • You have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 3 months or more (including a suspended sentence) without the option of a fine, during 5 years before polling day
  • You have been disqualified under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations) or under the Audit Commission Act 1998
  • You have been disqualified from standing for election following a decision of the First Tier Tribunal (formerly the Adjudication Panel for England and Wales)

Find out more information

Find out more about how to make a change and become a councillor.

Find out more information to help you make a decision about becoming a Councillor.

Find out how to obtain nomination forms and deadline dates.

Still interested?

You are welcome to come along to one of our meetings, meet the team, and see us in action. Alternatively feel free to contact any of the Town Councillors through the website contacts page and have a chat with us. To register an interest in joining the council, please contact our Town Clerk Andrea Durn – clerk@wotton-under-edge.com or Tel: 01453 843210.