Elections for the Parish and District Councils are scheduled to take place on Thursday 2 May so existing Councillors are weighing up whether they want to stand for re-election. It is likely that a number will decide to retire so there will be openings for some new faces to get involved and become councillors.
Each councillor has their own reasons for running but the role offers the chance to make a difference to the quality of life for people in your local area. Being an effective councillor requires both commitment and hard work. Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent (if any) and the council.
Your Parish Council is relatively unusual as it one of the few at this level where members represent political parties. There are currently 10 Liberal Democrats and 5 Conservatives who between them represent the two wards. The kind of issues they deal with are not party political and generally meetings are conducted in a mature and orderly manner, somewhat different to some the politics on show in the House of Commons.
There are four District Councillors whio represent Stansted and Birchanger, two Conservative and two Liberal Democrats. Politics at the District Council level can be a bit more adversarial but a lot of work goes on behind the scenes and councillors work hard to ensure that local services are run as efficiently as possible in as what they see as the best interest of the local community.
The councillor’s role centres around community leadership and engagement, responsibilities include:
- representing the ward for which they are elected
- decision-making – developing and reviewing council policy
- scrutinising decisions taken by the council officer
If you are interested in getting involved and stand as a councillor there are 2 main routes; you can decide to stand for one of the political parties/groups or as an independent.
If you want to represent a political party then get involved with your party locally as soon as possible. They will advise on what is involved and ultimately select a candidate. There are almost 500 political parties in the UK registered with the Electoral Commission. If you can’t find one that represents your views you are free to start your own party.
If you’re thinking of standing as an independent candidate you can contact Uttlesfords electoral services department. You will need to start becoming aware of issues in your local area; what your local council is doing about these issues; and how your own opinion differs from the political parties.
Whether you’ve been selected by a party or are standing as an independent candidate, you must make sure that you are officially nominated as the election date draws nearer. This means getting 10 people to sign your nomination papers (signatories must be registered electors in the ward where you wish to stand) available from your local council’s democratic services department.
You must also give your consent in writing to your nomination. All the necessary documents must be submitted 19 working days before the day of the election.
At the last election there were only 15 nominations for the Parish Council so the election was uncontested. At District Council level most residents got a choice between Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Residents for Uttlesford candidates and in some areas Labour and the Green Party contested seats along with a few independents.
If the idea of being a Councillor appeals to you can find out more on https://beacouncillor.co.uk/. Alternatively any of the existing Councillors or officers in the Parish Council Office would be would be happy to talk to you.