Town Council Elections

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Town Councillors are elected every four years. The next full elections will be in May 2019

You should consider becoming a town councillor if:

  • You Want To Do Something Positive for Your Community
  • You Want To Spend Your Time Productively
  • You Can Think, Listen and Act Locally

The Role

Town councillors have overall responsibility for the local community.

The work falls into 3 main categories:

  • Delivering services and facilities to meet local needs
  • Striving to improve quality of life within the town
  • Representing your neighbourhood

Being a councillor is an unpaid position.

What is a Parish/Town Council?

It is made up of a number of elected and co-opted Councillors who meet regularly to make decisions on the work and direction of the council.

Councillors are elected by the public at an ordinary election, normally held on the first Thursday in May every four years. For Sawbridgetworth Town Council, the next election is in May 2019.

Sawbridgeworth Town Council provides, maintains or contributes to the following services:

  • allotments
  • bus shelters
  • car parking (contribution)
  • community centres
  • community transport schemes
  • crime reduction measures
  • farmers market
  • festivals and celebrations
  • footpaths
  • leisure facilities
  • litter bins
  • local illuminations
  • local youth projects
  • parks and open spaces
  • planning (as a consultee)
  • play grounds
  • tourism activities
  • town cemetery

it also works with larger councils in the area called ‘principal authorities’ and cooperates to ensure the effective delivery of services to the local community.

Effort Required

TIME – 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 the community the larger the workload will be. The times of the meetings vary, as do the venues. The council normally meets 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. The council meets once a month and also has committees, in which case you would probably be invited to sit on one. These usually meet in
between the meetings of the full council.

COST – Being a councillor should cost you little. There is usually cover for subsistence and travel allowances if your duties take you out of your local council’s area. These allowances will be determined by the council, and will be within a maximum laid down by the Government.

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 and Town 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.

What councillors do?

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 town councillor may include:

  • attending meetings of local organisations and groups
  • attending 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 that effect your local area
  • running a surgery for residents to bring up issues
  • communicating with individual residents

Who would you represent?

Town councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as a ward which in our case is the town council area as a whole and includes the Spellbook community. They are elected by people who live in the area.

Nomination process

A prospective candidate must obtain and return a completed nomination paper to the Returning Officer of the District Council for the election. The candidate’s surname, forenames and residence must be entered with the number and prefix letter from the current register of electors. A copy of this register can be obtained from the Returning Officer or the Clerk to the Council. The nomination paper must also be signed by and contain similar particulars of a proposer and a seconder. These must be electors for the area for which the candidate seeks election.

Election Timetable

Ordinary elections usually coincide with the election year of the District Council and must be held on the same day. The interval between elections is 4 years and therefore your term of office would normally be 4 years. The next local council election will take place in May 2019.