Serving councillors say that this is a very rewarding and enjoyable thing to do, if challenging and a little frustrating at times! You can make a positive difference to your communities. You might help an individual who is struggling to access the services they need, or make sure that the council spends money on what people in the community value most. You can influence how your area looks, how people are educated and cared for and encourage everyone to get involved.

As a councillor every day is different, you’ll learn valuable skills like how to speak in public or chair a meeting, understand how public services in Wales work, meet a lot of different people and hopefully make a real difference.

Councillors, on average, commit the equivalent of three days a week to the role. This can be challenging but many councillors are able to do it. Not all council commitments are during the working day but also in the evenings and at weekends. It helps if your employer can give you time off for council duties, such as attending meetings. It’s a good idea to talk to them about this before standing. The skills you learn as a councillor and your links with the community can benefit your employer.

Some roles, such as leaders and cabinet members, are generally regarded as full time, however some members do manage to maintain their jobs elsewhere.

Councils will do all they can to accommodate you, such as varying the times of meetings so that you can attend. You can be very clear with your constituents about the times that you’d be able to meet with them, take their calls and respond to emails so that you don’t get swamped.

Councillors can claim reimbursement of costs of care for children or elderly or disabled relatives. You can currently claim up to £403 per month to pay carers so that you can undertake council business, for example travelling to and attending meetings.

Yes, the council will provide you with the access arrangements you need. Council buildings must be accessible by law for Disabled people. You will also be provided with support to cater for your specific disability. Councillors can also claim up to £403 per month to pay for caring support, this can be used by councillors for their own care support needs.

The Welsh Government is also seeking to set up an Access to Elected Office Scheme to provide support and cover some costs for Disabled people seeking to stand for election.

Many people become councillors because they want to give something back to their communities or want to represent local people. Others have been longstanding members of political parties with strong political views and values. Both are equally useful routes in to becoming a local councillor. Local politics tends to be more about what local people need rather than national party-political manifestos.

All councillors receive a basic salary. In 2020/21 it is £14,218. Councillors are also entitled to travel allowances. Those with caring responsibilities can also receive an additional care allowance of up to £403 per month. You can also claim your salary whilst taking family absence such as parental leave.

Those councillors who undertake additional responsibilities such as being a cabinet member, committee chair or leader of their political group will receive an additional payment. This is called a senior salary and is calculated based on the size of the council. More information is available here.

Some members have unfortunately experienced this; however all the local councils are working together to provide support for members who experience any abuse and also to campaign against it. There is guidance for members on how to deal with this. If online abuse is perpetrated by other members you can complain to the Public Services Ombudsman who can discipline members. If the abuse becomes harassment or threatening the police can act against the perpetrators.

More information is available here.

Councillors come from all backgrounds and abilities. This is important so that they can represent their communities. Councils need councillors with a range of experiences, employment backgrounds and qualifications. As a member you’ll need to be able to understand reports that council officers write before you take decisions, you’ll also be expected to do most of your work on a computer and have good people skills to work with everyone in the community. Most members say that an understanding of your community, a willingness to listen and learn and some common sense is all you need.

Every council will run an orientation programme for new members to show you where and who everyone is, followed by an induction programme to help you understand your role, council procedures and the practical skills you need, for example to chair a meeting or take part in a radio interview. Ongoing training will be provided according to what you need.

There are shadowing and mentoring schemes available for some groups of people. Contact these organisations to see if their schemes could help you.

Contact your local council and see how they can help. Why not watch the webcasts of council meetings to get a flavour of what is discussed or attend a meeting as a member of the public? You can also ask questions in council meetings or bring an issue to a scrutiny meeting. Local council websites will explain how you can do this. Contact the democratic services section of your council and ask if any serving councillors would be able to discuss their work with you.

You might want to consider standing as a candidate in a community or town council to gain valuable experience.

The WLGA is a membership organisation representing all the Councils in Wales. It is led by the political leaders of every council making sure that local government in Wales is able to work together and speak with one voice to, for example, the Welsh Government. The WLGA also provides advice and guidance to councils, officers and councillors in different policy areas.

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