So you want to be a County Councillor?
This page has information on the following:
Representing your local area
A councillor’s primary role is to represent their division and the people who live in it. Councillors provide the bridge between the community and the council. As well as being an advocate for your local residents and signposting them to the right support, you will need to keep them informed about the issues that affect them.
In order to understand and represent local views and priorities, you need to build strong relationships and encourage local people to make their views known and engage with you and the council. Good communication and engagement is central to being an effective councillor.
Some councillors hold regular surgeries in person or online - as a chance for residents to contact you and discuss their problems or concerns.
As a local councillor, your residents will expect you to:
- respond to their queries and investigate their concerns (casework)
- communicate council decisions that affect them
- know your patch and be aware of any problems
- know and work with representatives of local organisations, interest groups and businesses
- represent their views at council meetings
- lead local campaigns on their behalf
To help you we have put together a councillor's role description which outlines the necessary skills and experience needed for the 'job'.
Community leadership is at the heart of modern local government. Councils work in partnership with local communities and organisations including the public, voluntary and private sectors - to develop a vision for their local area, working collaboratively to improve services and quality of live for citizens. Councillors have a lead role in this process.
Developing council policy
Councils need clear strategies and policies to enable them to achieve their vision for the area, make the best use of resources and deliver services that meet the needs of local communities. As a local councillor you will contribute to the development of these policies and strategies, bringing the views and priorities of your local area to the debate. How you do this will depend on the committees and forums you are appointed to. However, the council's policy framework must be signed off by full council, on which every councillor sits.
Planning and regulation
Councillors may also sit on regulatory committees, for example the planning committee, which takes non-political decisions on planning applications.
How are decisions made? Back to top
The full council
The full council meets at least six times a year. All 62 members are required to attend each meeting.
One of its functions is to agree the major policies, which govern the way services are provided or set down the council's general approach to do things.
Further information is available on the role of the council page.
The Cabinet is made up of the Leader (appointed by the County Council), Deputy Leader and currently seven other councillors who are chosen by the Leader of the County Council from the majority party, currently Conservative.
Each cabinet member has a specific portfolio of work for which he or she is responsible.
The Cabinet normally meets monthly. Its role is to lead in the preparation of the Council's policies and budget.
The Cabinet makes decisions collectively and Cabinet members can also make decisions individually. These are known as 'delegated decisions'.
You can find out more about the Cabinet on the role of the Cabinet page.
Overview and scrutiny
Overview and scrutiny gives an important role to all councillors who do not hold Cabinet posts. It is the principal democratic means of ensuring that decisions made by the council and its partners are held to account. In Staffordshire this is currently carried out by four overview and scrutiny committees:
- Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
- Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee
- Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee
- Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Please note: Cabinet and Scrutiny arrangements are determined by each new administration.
Before you officially become a county councillor you will need to sign a declaration of acceptance of office and agree to fulfil your duties and comply with the council's code of conduct.
Induction and training
We offer a comprehensive induction and training package to all members.
Our aim is to ensure that appropriate, relevant and effective development opportunities are made available to members and facilitated by Member and Democratic Services.
It is important for newly elected councillors to attend induction sessions – they are designed to help you be effective democratic representatives.
As part of your introduction to the council, there will be induction sessions for you to attend, starting with a new member 'welcome day' in mid-May 2021.
Membership of committees and panels
The proportion of seats each political group gets on each committee or panel is determined by the number of group members they may have.
Your group leader will ask you which committees and panels you might be interested in. They decide who is nominated for places on the committees.
Current committees and panels you may be invited to join include:
- Overview and Scrutiny Committees
- Audit and Standards Committee
You may want to go along to some of the meetings as a member of the public prior to your election to familiarise yourself with them. You can also watch live and archived meetings of Cabinet, County Council, Planning and some Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
There will be support and assistance on understanding the role of a committee that you become part of.
Representation on 'outside bodies'
'Outside bodies' are organisations and charities to which the council appoints representatives. There are currently well over a hundred. As a councillor you may be asked by the Leader of the Council to be a representative on one or more of these bodies.
Member grant funds have been a key part of supporting Staffordshire's communities, as a way of investing so that people can help each other in the places where they live. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, the councillors' fund was used to support support groups and community organisations across Staffordshire.
No decision has yet been made as to whether a similar scheme will operate in 2021/22.
What support can I expect?
The Member and Democratic Services Unit provide dedicated support to help councillors meet their day to day responsibilities. Following the election you will be allocated a 'buddy' who will help you through the first few months after election. You will soon get to know the officers who will support you in your various roles.
Most of the information you need to be effective in your new role as a councillor will be available online. Staffordshire's Intranet and public website contains lots of information on the council, the way it works, its services and the local area.
Council papers will be provided electronically rather than in paper form and we will offer you access to county council IT equipment.
In addition we would expect you to have a telephone number, either home or mobile, that you are willing to make available to the public.
All councillors are entitled to a basic allowance (currently £9,786.35). Those with additional roles may also receive a special responsibility allowance (SRA) which reflects the level of responsibility and expected time commitment. You can also claim travel and subsistence along with the cost of childcare or dependent care.
Further information on the current members' allowances scheme is available in the council's constitution.
Our strategic plan (2018 - 2022) sets out our ambitions and priorities for the years ahead. It outlines what we want to achieve and how we intend to do it.
The plan outlines our vision to create a connected Staffordshire where everyone has the opportunity to prosper, be healthy and happy.
As a result of this vision the plan outlines the three priority outcomes which we will keep at the heart of what we aim to achieve them. These are that the people of Staffordshire will:
- be able to access more good jobs and feel the benefits of economic growth
- be healthier and more independent
- feel safer, happier and more supported in and by their community
You may find these websites useful:
There is also a lot of useful information on our main website.
Member and Democratic Services
District and borough council contacts
Contact information for district and borough councils is on the other local authorities page.