Becoming a District Councillor
Information to help you know what being a District Councillor at Mendip is all about.
Mendip District Council holds elections every four years. The next election will be held in May 2019.
Here is the copy of the Member Role Description and Person Specification
If you're thinking of standing for election, you may also find this booklet useful
Standing as a Candidate
For all information about how to stand in the May 2019 Election, please visit our dedicated web page: Standing As A Candidate
To help answer any questions you have, we have put together a candidate's FAQ:
How much time is involved in being a District Councillor?
The amount of time spent on council duties depends entirely on how involved you become with council work. The majority of Councillors will attend public meetings once or twice a month but those who take on a more active role such as Scrutiny, Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet Member will spend more time on council duties. Most public meetings are held in the evenings, allowing Councillors with full time jobs to participate. In addition to public meetings, Councillors will be expected to spend time in their local communities. Also, there will be opportunities to represent the council on Strategic Partnerships, Working Parties, Sub-Committees and other groups (such as the Car Parks Working Group) all of which takes time.
What support would I get?
Council employees are there to advise on policy and decision making and to implement the council's decisions. You will receive support from staff and training to help you work effectively as a Councillor.
Will it cost me anything to stand for election?
The cost incurred by a candidate at an election is at the personal expense of the candidate or political party (if they are representing one). The council cannot, and does not, refund the costs incurred.
Do I need to have a political preference?
You do not need to be a member of a political party or have a political preference to stand as a Councillor. People who do not belong to a political party stand as an independent candidate. If you decide to stand as a representative for a political party you must have their support. They will give you help and advice during your campaign and when you become a Councillor.
How much background knowledge do I need?
A good general knowledge of the Council and its services is preferable but training is given on the procedural side of decision making. Trained officers who deal with these topics on a day to day basis are there to advise you on the best course of action.
Will I get paid for being a District Councillor?
An allowance is paid each month, the current scheme of allowances can be found on page 9 of the Becoming a District Councillor booklet.
What qualifications do I need?
No formal qualifications are needed, although there are some restrictions. See page 7 of the Becoming a District Councillor booklet.
Will I be able to gain qualifications whilst I am a Councillor?
Apart from the experience you will gain, you may be able to undertake special training courses provided by organisations such as SW Councils.
How often do I have to attend meetings?
Meetings of the Committees and Boards are held regularly, you are not expected to sit on them all. All of the meetings take place in the Mendip District, with the majority being held at the council offices in Shepton Mallet. Further details of Committees and Meetings
Can I get time off work?
Some employers are happy to grant time off to carry out your District Council role. In fact, under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees have a right to take time off (unpaid) for duties as a member of a local authority. You should discuss this with your employer before you commit to becoming a Councillor.
Will becoming a Councillor affect the benefits I receive?
Maybe, you are advised to contact our Benefits Manager to seek guidance.
What if I have caring responsibilities?
The Council is keen not to preclude those who have caring responsibilities from becoming Councillors. Councillors with children or other dependents are entitled to claim a carer's allowance. Child care costs are reimbursed, subject to a maximum hourly rate equivalent to the current minimum wage. However, in the case of specialist care being required by a Registered Carer, then arrangements can be made to reimburse the amount fully, subject to receipts.