How to become a councillor

Find out what you need to do to become a councillor. A councillor may represent your local community on a parish, town, or on this unitary authority.

We provide information on the process of electoral nominations for all types of elections. We also publish a list of candidates for an election.

Ward and parish elections end of term

Council and parish elections take place every four years. This is when all seats are open for election. The next parish elections are scheduled for May 2023.

Ward and parish by-elections

Vacancies can also occur mid-term for other reasons. If this happens, a by-election takes place. All elections are publicised. You do not need any formal qualifications to be a councillor. As long as you meet the legal requirements, you can stand.

To be a councillor you must be:

  • 18 or over on the day of nomination
  • a UK, Republic of Ireland, EU or qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

and meet at least one of the following four criteria:

  • be registered as an elector (and will continue to be) in the district
  • have lived in the district for the past 12 months
  • have occupied as owner or tenant any premises or land in the district for the past 12 months
  • have had your main or only place of work in the district for the past 12 months.

You cannot stand for election if:

  • you work for Cumberland Council
  • you hold a politically restricted post for another local authority
  • you are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
  • you have within five years before the election been convicted, in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man, of any offence that carries a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of not less than three months without the option of a fine
  • you have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 for corrupt or illegal practices.

Some candidates stand for a political party, but many candidates at parish council elections stand in their own right.

Each candidate for a district election must be proposed and seconded by registered electors from the electoral area they wish to stand in and have an additional eight assenters. Nomination packs contain full information of all the requirements.

Standing for election as councillor

You need to meet the age and residency requirements and the criteria set out above. Then you need to complete the nomination papers.

Nomination papers - Local Government Elections England from the Electoral Commission website.

Returning nomination papers

You must make an appointment to deliver your nomination paper.

New regulations mean the number of subscribers for these elections has been reduced. Candidates standing for a political party need to ensure that they have a certificate of authorisation to use an emblem or an official description. Your agent can help you with this.

You can obtain all of the nomination papers, appointment forms and request for register of electors by email from the elections office on the contact details below.

To find out more about being a councillor and about local councils, see the links below: