What do councillors do?
Councillors represent the people of Powys and are democratically accountable to residents in their ward. Their overriding duty is to the whole community of Powys, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them.
You can contact your councillor to help you if you have a local issue that you want to discuss with them, or if you're unhappy with a council service.
Councillors work together to make decisions which affect everybody who lives, works or visits Powys. They have overall responsibility for the work the council does - for its policies and how well it performs. This is an important role - they are the voice of the community and play a vital role making democracy work.
Councillors should represent the whole community, but they have a special responsibility to champion the needs of the people who live in their wards. Councillors have a duty to know what is going on in their area, and to help with any problems or questions that a constituent may have. For example this could mean helping to solve a housing problem or arranging for a new road sign.
Councillors are community leaders and work with many local bodies, e.g., health boards, police authorities and schools. This helps them develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of the organisations that serve their communities.
Above all councillors should listen to the needs of local people and take their views into account when making decisions.
Generally, County Councillors serve for five years, unless they are elected at a by-election in which case they serve until the next scheduled council elections. Of course, they can resign or be disqualified from office before the end of their term.
Do councillors get paid?
Each councillor gets a basic allowance, paid in monthly instalments. The allowance recognises the time they spend on their work, including making phone calls and going to meetings, and contributes to incidental costs like the use of their home and phone. Councillors may also claim travel expenses and, in some cases, subsistence for their attendance at approved events.
If councillors take on particular duties, they may also receive a special responsibility allowance.
For more information on councillors' allowances, see Members Allowances and Expenses
Can I contact my councillor at home and on weekends?
Yes. When someone becomes a councillor it is on the understanding that they are accessible to the public all week and can be contacted at home as well as in the council offices.
What ethical standards can I expect of my councillor?
When councillors are elected, they agree to follow a code of conduct (this link will take you to the Constitution. Please look at "Section 18 - Members Code of Conduct" in the latest version of the Constitution) This describes the high standards they should meet as they work as councillors.
How is the chairman elected?
The chairman of the council is elected at the Annual General Meeting of Council which takes place in May. The chairman serves for a year. For more information, or to get in touch with the current chairman, contact the Chairman's PA/Secretary using the contact details on this page.
How much work do councillors do?
Each councillor will need to decide how much time they're willing to give. How busy they are also depends on their role in the council and the duties that they take on. Councillors need to spend time to dealing with queries from their constituents, and are likely to receive a lot of mail, e-mail, telephone calls and personal visits. Constituents contact their councillors at all times of the day - not always at a reasonable hour!
Councillors are expected to attend all formal council meetings and committees of which they are a member. Some weeks there may be more scheduled meetings than others. If you are an elected chairperson or cabinet member the role can be very demanding as the responsibilities are greater. Many councillors also represent the council on outside organisations and at conferences and may have to travel to these meetings.
For most meetings, councillors will need to read detailed papers and background information. Councillors are also invited to attend at numerous seminars and training events.
What support do councillors get?
Council officers are employed to carry out the decisions the councillors make and help councillors by offering advice and guidance on any issue. In most cases it will be the senior officers e.g. the chief executive, directors and heads of service who are the first port of call.
The member services unit provides administrative support and acts as a liaison between councillors, officers and members of the public.
Councillors can also use a work area in the council offices which has facilities such as computers, printers, telephones and stationery.
How do I become a councillor?
To be able to stand as a candidate at a local government election in Wales you must:
- be at least 18 years old
- be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of any member state of the European Union or a qualifying foreign national and
- meet at least one of the following four qualifications:
a) You are, and will continue to be, registered as a local government elector for the local authority area in which you wish to stand from the day of your nomination onwards.
b) You have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
c) Your main or only place of work during the 12 months prior to the day of your nomination and the day of election has been in the local authority area.
d) You have lived in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and the day of election.
Apart from meeting the qualifications for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified
There are certain people who are disqualified from being a member of a local authority in Wales
- You are employed by the local authority or hold a paid office under the authority (including joint boards or committees). Note that you may be 'employed by the local authority' if, for example, you work at certain schools, fire services, police or health services. This list is not exhaustive
- You hold a politically restricted post
There are certain people who are disqualified from being elected or being a member of a local authority in Wales. You cannot be a candidate if at the time of your nomination and on polling day:
- You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
- You have had a criminal conviction during the period of five years ending with the day of poll or since being elected you have been convicted in the UK of an offence, you have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine and the ordinary period allowed for making an appeal or application in respect of the conviction has passed
- You have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices. The disqualification for an illegal practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for three years. The disqualification for a corrupt practice begins from the date a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years
- You are subject to the notification requirements of or under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the ordinary period allowed for making an appeal or application in respect of the order or notification has passed
I am employed by Powys County Council, can I stand for election?
You are disqualified from being a member of a local authority if you are a paid officer or employee of that local authority. However, you are not disqualified from standing as a candidate at an election to a local authority.
This would be the case where your appointment:
- has been made
- ·could be made
- has been confirmed by the local authority itself
- has been confirmed by any committee or sub-committee of the local authority
- has been confirmed by any joint committee or National Park authority where the local authority is represented by a person holding such an office or employment
However, the disqualification on the basis of being a paid officer or employee does not apply to the office of chairman, vice-chairman, presiding member or deputy presiding member of the local authority. Some authorities will have executive arrangements which involve a leader and cabinet executive. In those cases, the disqualification will not apply to the office of executive leader, member of the executive or assistant to the executive.
Local authorities typically have committees and subcommittees. Paid officers of a local authority employed under the direction of such committees or sub-committees are disqualified from standing to that authority. In addition, where such a committee or sub-committee has a member, or members, appointed on the nomination of another local authority, the disqualification will also apply to being elected to the other local authority.
If you are a paid officer of a local authority employed under the direction of a joint board, a National Park authority or joint committee, you will be disqualified from being elected as a member of all of the authorities that are represented on that body.
Joint boards, committees etc. can include various organisations, such as fire services and education authorities. Therefore, as a general rule, if you work in the local public sector, you should seek advice from your employer's HR department to help you establish whether the disqualification would apply to you. Sometimes employment relationships can be complex and if this is the case for you, we recommend that you seek your own legal advice.
If you are a teacher in a school maintained by the local authority you will be disqualified from being a member of the local authority.
If elected, the disqualification of working for the local authority does not apply at any time before you make a declaration of acceptance of office. You must have resigned your post before signing the declaration of acceptance of office.
Full guidance for candidates and people intending to stand as a candidate can be found on the Electoral Commission website:https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/local-elections-wales
Getting officially nominated
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.
To request a nomination package, please contact Electoral Services by email or phone. The nomination papers should be completed and returned to Electoral Services in person or by email, full details are included within the nomination package. Nomination papers received after the deadline (also known as close of nominations) cannot be accepted.
Guidance for candidates, including information regarding eligibility to stand for election, is available on the Electoral Commission's website here:https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/local-elections-wales
The election timetable for local elections in Wales can also be found on the Electoral Commission's website here: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media/8682
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.
For more detailed information please visit the Be a councillor website.
There is additional support available to you if you're disabled and considering standing for elected office.
Are all councillors members of a political party?
No, many Councillors stand as independents, although currently all but one belong to one of the four political groups which have been declared in Powys.