Becoming a councillor

Could you become one of 36 district councillors or one of 590 town/parish councillors who take a lead in providing services to the local community?


At the most local level electors are represented by district and town/parish councillors.

District councillors represent wards which are normally made up of a number of parishes.

Town/parish councillors will either represent a whole parish or, where a parish is divided into section (wards), will represent the electors of that particular area of the parish.

Some larger parishes have been granted the right to use the description of ‘town’ and are represented by town councils and town councillors. In West Lindsey there are three town councils namely Caistor Town Council, Gainsborough Town Council and the Market Rasen Town Council.

Councillors are elected to serve for a four-year term of office. Of course, councillors may resign, become disqualified or die during their term of office, and in such circumstances a by-election may be held.

To be a local councillor you must be at least 18 years of age and a British, Commonwealth or European citizen.  You also need to be a local elector or have lived, worked or owned a property in the area for at least a year.

Guidance for Councillors on Openness and Transparency on Personal Interests

All Councillors are required to complete a Register of Interests form.  A guidance to openness and transparency is available on the following GOV.UK link:

Why would I want to be a councillor?

People stand for election for many reasons

  • To speak on  behalf of the local community and help local people
  • To pursue their political beliefs
  • To contribute business or professional skills
  • To shape the future of the local community

Do I need a deposit?

A deposit is not needed for local government elections.

Do I have to belong to a political party?

No, although the majority of people become Councillors as a result of joining a political party at a District Council level.  However, some people stand for election as independents (candidates who do not belong to any political party).

How do I stand for election?

If you are considering standing as a candidate of a particular political party then you will need to be a member of that party’s local organisation or you can stand as an independent candidate. For further information visit the following website:

Do I need an Election Agent?

At parish council elections is a very rare for Election Agents to be appointed. At elections for the district council you can take on this role yourself but it is helpful to have an agent. If you are a candidate for a political party it may be that one person takes on the role of agent for several candidates. It is the agents responsibility to ensure that forms are sent in at the correct times and to ensure that a clear and accurate record of financial expenditure is submitted after the election.

Expenses of a Candidate - who pays?

If you decide to become a candidate and subsequently spend money on your campaign, it is important to note that you will have to pay for your own publicity material and items used during the campaign. However, if you are a political party candidate you may find that financial help is available.

Furthermore, although expenses of candidates are not reimbursed by the local authority, you must keep all receipts as these form part of the statement of election expenses which has to be submitted after the election. The expenditure return is required to ensure that the money spent during the election campaign does not exceed the set limit of £600 plus an additional 5p for every entry in the ward/parish register of electors.

Councillors play a vital role in shaping and directing the effectiveness of local services for the benefit of local people. Councillors work with the police, health and other public bodies and with the private sector in order to achieve these aims.

The position of the councillor is vital in the local community as the voice of the community and the champion of the users of local services playing a vital role in the overall effectiveness of local government.

If you are interested to become a district and/or town/parish councillor please contact the Electoral Registration Section for further details of current vacancies or a copy of the nomination guidance notes.

How do I become a councillor?

When there is to be a poll, Notices of Election are displayed. This notice gives details of the electoral area; date and time of the election; the number of councillors to be elected and the date and time for sending in nomination papers.

Contact Electoral Services for a nomination pack. This will provide you with all the forms and information necessary to become a candidate, however, the timetable is short so you need to act quickly.

After the close of nominations if there are more candidates than vacancies, a poll will be held for electors to vote. However, if the number of candidates and vacancies are the same, there will be no poll and the candidates are elected unopposed.

How long do Councillors serve on the Council?

Councillors serve for a 4-year term.

If a councillor fails to attend a meeting for six months, without good reason and prior notice, they are disqualified from being a councillor. If a councillor becomes bankrupt or is put in prison without the option of a fine, they are disqualified.

The councillor is also expected to resign if they no longer either live or work in the district or own or rent any land or property in the district. If a member resigns for any reason, a by-election to fill that vacancy is normally held within two months of the resignation.