Types of roles a Councillor could expect to undertake
Being an effective councillor requires hard work. The primary role of a councillor is to represent their ward and the people who live in it, and councillors are therefore expected to take steps to keep in touch with their communities. Community leadership is at the heart of modern local government and councils are taking on new responsibilities for working in partnership with other organisations, including the voluntary and community sector, to improve services and the quality of life for citizens.
Being a councillor is also a great way to gain political experience and useful skills in public speaking, debating and problem solving.
Councillors are also expected to participate in informed and balanced decision-making as members of the full council, and while sitting on other committees and panels to which they might be appointed
All councillors are members of the full council. The full council debates and decides upon policy based on reports from the committees and agrees the main policies of the council and its budget.
A small number of senior councillors will form the Cabinet or executive board led by the leader of the council. The Cabinet is like the government of the council, usually made up of members of the political group that has most members on the council or a coalition. It takes the decisions about the day to day running of the council. Each Cabinet member usually takes responsibility for a specific area called a portfolio for example, education, the environment or social services. The Cabinet will usually meet once a fortnight.
All other councillors are active in the scrutiny of the performance of the council and other public bodies whose work affects local communities. Overview and scrutiny is vital, as it scrutinises the decisions made by the Cabinet and the effectiveness of the council’s policies and performance.
Many councillors also sit on committees which deal with planning and licensing. This means that you could be taking decisions about buildings and local development or taxis and pubs across the council area. Typically a regulatory committee will meet every 2-4 weeks.
Some councillors may also be members of other committees, such as the Governance and Audit Committee which makes sure that the financial policies and processes of the Council are in order, or the Standards Committee which makes sure that members behave appropriately, or ad hoc committees such as those formed to appoint new staff.
Other Local Bodies
Councillors are also appointed to external local bodies such as school governing bodies, public service boards, and local partnerships, either as representatives of the council or as trustees or directors. Some councillors also sit on fire and rescue authorities and, where a council includes part of a national park authority, a national park.
If you are a member of a political party you will also be expected to attend political group meetings, party training and other events.