BECOMING A COUNCILLOR – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

					     BECOMING A COUNCILLOR – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


This document is intended for guidance purposes only and is not a full
statement of the legal requirements relating to standing for election. If you are
in any doubt about your eligibility to stand for election, or about the law
relating to local authority elections, you should seek your own legal or other
advice.

1.     Who can stand to be a councillor in Waltham Forest?

       Almost everyone. You do not need any formal qualifications or
       experience, although you do have to meet some eligibility criteria.

       You must:

             be at least 18 years old
             be a citizen of the UK, the EU or the Commonwealth
             be registered to vote in local government elections in Waltham
              Forest, or have lived or occupied land or premises within
              Waltham Forest for at least the previous year, or have worked
              (as your principal or only place of work) in Waltham Forest for
              the previous year

       However, you cannot stand for election in Waltham Forest if you:

             are an employee of the London Borough of Waltham Forest (or
              hold any paid office or employment where appointments are
              made or confirmed by Waltham Forest Council)
             hold a politically restricted post at another local authority or
              within the civil service
             are the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or an interim
              order
             have received a prison sentence of three months or more in the
              five years prior to the election
             have been found guilty by an election court of a corrupt practice
              during the previous five years

       All candidates in the election must, by law, appoint an election agent,
       although you can be your own election agent if you wish. One of the
       reasons for this is that electoral law can be complex and the penalties
       for failing to comply with the law can be significant. The Council’s
       Deputy Returning Officer, Peter Bailey 020 8496 4204, may, in some
       circumstances, be able to provide guidance on what you can and
       cannot do while you are a candidate for election, but you are strongly
       advised to obtain your own legal or specialist advice
2.   Conduct and Registering Interests

     If you are elected you will be required to sign a Declaration of
     Acceptance of Office, which commits councillors to observing the
     Members’ Code of Conduct. It is therefore essential that you read and
     feel able to abide by the Code of Conduct before agreeing to be
     nominated for election. A copy of the Code is included in this pack.

     Shortly after the election, councillors will be required to register certain
     financial and other interests. This information will be held in a register
     that will be available for public inspection. When attending Council
     meetings, councillors are also required to declare any interests they
     have in matters on the agenda for that meeting. Full guidance and
     training on the Code of Conduct and other legal requirements will be
     provided to councillors after the election.

3.   Do I have to be a member of a political party to stand for
     election?

     No. Although most people stand for election as a member of a political
     party, this is by no means compulsory. If you do not wish to stand for
     election as a member of a political party, you will be shown on the
     ballot paper as an “independent”.

4.   How do I get nominated?

     You need to be nominated by eight registered electors from the ward
     where you wish to stand. You also have to sign a “Consent to
     Nomination” form, confirming your eligibility to stand as a candidate.

     If you want to stand as a candidate for a political party, you will also
     need to submit a certificate issued by the registered nominating officer
     of the political party concerned, authorising your candidacy.

5.   Do I have to pay a deposit?

     No. No deposit is payable in London Borough Council elections.

6.   How long are councillors elected for?

     Councillors are elected for a period of four years – unless they are
     elected at a by-election, in which case their term of office will be for a
     shorter period i.e. until the next round of full elections to take place (ie
     in May 2010).

     There is no limit to the number of times you can stand for election.
7.    Do councillors get paid?

      Although councillors do not receive a salary, they are entitled to an
      allowance which is designed to reimburse councillors for the time and
      expenses they incur on Council business.

      Every councillor in Waltham Forest is entitled to the basic allowance
      which is currently set at £10,248 per year. Councillors who undertake
      particular roles such as chairing certain committees or being a Cabinet
      Member are eligible for an additional Special Responsibility Allowance.
      Full details of members allowances are set out in the Council’s
      Members’ Allowance Scheme, which can be viewed at the Council’s
      website at www.walthamforest.gov.uk/part10.doc

8.    How much time does being a councillor take up?

      This depends on your role within the Council and the number of
      commitments you take on. It could vary from a few hours each week to
      effectively a full time position.

      Council and committee meetings in Waltham Forest take place on
      weekday evenings, usually starting at 7.30 pm. Most councillors sit on
      at least one or two committees, as well as attending meetings of Full
      Council, so as a councillor you could have several evening meetings a
      month – in addition to any time you spend helping constituents in your
      ward. It is likely that, as a councillor, you will receive a lot of post,
      emails and telephone calls.

9.    Can I get time off work to be a councillor?

      Being a councillor is something that many people do in addition to their
      full time jobs.

      If you are working, then by law your employer must allow you a
      reasonable amount of time off to carry out your duties as a councillor.
      What counts as “reasonable” depends upon your responsibilities as a
      councillor and the effect of your absence upon your employer’s
      business. This is something you should discuss and agree with your
      employer.

      Your employer does not have to pay you for any time you take off to
      carry out Council duties.

10.   What training will I get?

      There will be a full induction programme after the election to give you
      an understanding of how the Council functions, who is responsible for
      what and the basic aspects of your new role.
      There is an ongoing Members’ Development Programme and all
      councillors are offered the opportunity to develop a personal
      development plan and attend training courses to meet their needs.
      There will also be regular briefings and seminars on important topical
      issues.

11.   What other support will I get?

      Councillors will receive a Council email address and will be supplied
      with a laptop computer and broadband internet connection for official
      use. You will also be supplied with official headed paper, filing
      equipment and stationery.

      There is a secretarial service to assist councillors with any
      correspondence and admin work arising from their Council duties. You
      will also receive help if you wish to hold regular surgeries for your
      constituents (i.e. hire of a meeting room and publicity).

12.   Who can I contact for further information?

      For enquiries regarding the election and your nomination contact:

      Electoral Services
      Room 23
      Waltham Forest Town Hall
      Forest Road
      E17 4JF

      020 8496 4432

				
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