Standing as a Councillor
So you are interested in being a Town Councillor or a Central Bedfordshire Councillor!
Standing as a Councillor
Town Councils are the democratic bodies with the closest links to their communities. Town Councils are the first tier of Local Government. In addition to providing some services themselves, Town Councils can make a vital contribution toward the priorities contained within the community strategies, which are prepared by the District Council.
Ampthill Town Council:
- Acts as a representative of all parts of the community
- Works in partnership with the Unitary Councils, as well as other public service agencies
- Delivers local services to the communities
- Works closely with voluntary groups in the community
- Gives leadership in working towards a town plan
- Acts a an information point for local services
Examples of the types of services which Ampthill Town Council provides are:-
- Car parks
- Footpaths and bridleways
- Street lighting
- Town halls
The Town Council makes decisions at meetings, which are open to the public and press. As a matter of good practice the Council sets aside a period of 15 minutes at the start of each meeting so members of the public can have an opportunity to address the council. At present Full Town Council Meetings take place once a month on the third Wednesday of the month, with the Finance/General Purposes and Parks Committees taking place on the alternate first Wednesdays of each month. Planning meetings generally take place also on Wednesday nights, usually at the end of each month or when there are sufficient planning applications to consider. All these meetings begin at 7.30pm. The duration of such meetings depends upon the amount of business that has to be dealt with at each meeting.
The Next Elections
Elections for all Town and Parish Councils in Central Bedfordshire are due to be held in May 2015 when Councillors will be elected to serve for the next four years.
The notes below are designed to help any person who may be interested in becoming a candidate for election as a Town Councillor.
Qualifications for Candidates
To stand as a candidate for election to a Town or Parish Council you must: -
- Be 18 years of age on the day you are nominated as a candidate and
- Be included on the register of electors for the Town or Parish, or
- Have owned or occupied land or premises within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or
- Have worked within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or
- Have lived within the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated, or
- Have lived within three miles of the Town or Parish for a year prior to being nominated.
The first stage of the election process is the publication of the Notice of Election, The Notice of Election invites any person who wishes to stand as a candidate to submit nomination papers to the Returning Officer at Priory House, Chicksands. Nomination papers for those interested in standing for election will be available from the beginning of March from either the Returning Officer or the Clerk to the Town Council.
Persons wishing to stand as candidates must submit their completed nomination papers by no later than noon on the return date. It is advised that candidates deliver the nomination papers to the Returning Officer in person, so that they may be checked at the time of delivery. If this is not practicable then it is recommended that the nomination papers be sent well in advance so that if there is a problem the Returning Officer's staff will have an opportunity to return the papers for amendment with sufficient time for the candidate to re-submit the papers by the required deadline.
The Election Process
This can seem quite bewildering, so the Returning Officer issues guidance notes for candidates with each set of nomination papers. The notes are designed to help those who have no previous experience of being a candidate as well as those who have.
The guidance notes cover election expenses. This is the money spent by the candidate in providing any leaflets or other material to introduce themselves to the electors. This money may not be reclaimed, the candidate or their supporters must meet such costs themselves and there is a limit as to the maximum amount that may be spent. This figure is a basic £600 plus 5p for every elector on the register of electors at the date on which the notice of election is given. The register may be for the whole of Ampthill.
Every candidate must make a return and declaration of the amount of their election expenses. Invoices and receipts must accompany the return, so it is a good idea to keep records of any expenditure during the election campaign. Not all candidates at Town and Parish elections incur election expenses, in which case a nil return and declaration should be made.
Whilst the guidance notes are comprehensive there may be need for additional help or advice. The Electoral Services Manager at Central Bedfordshire Council will be arranging the elections and can be contacted for further help or information.
Elections and Electoral Registration at Central Bedfordshire Council can be reached on 0300 300 8008 or visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
What Happens After the Election?
All candidates who are elected are required to sign various documents before they take up their duties.
The first document is a Declaration of Acceptance of Office. In signing this declaration the councillor agrees to be bound by a National Code of Conduct. In addition each newly elected town councillor must also make a declaration of interests, these include employment or business interests, property ownership and other matters which may be seen to have a bearing on the way in which a member of a town or parish council would vote. The declaration is retained by the parish clerk and is open to inspection by any local elector.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How long would my term of office be?
- Your period of office will be four years.
How much time will I have to commit?
- This is very much up to the individual and is dependant on other commitments.
When are meetings held?
- At present Full Town Council Meetings take place once a month on the third Wednesday of the month, with the Finance/General Purposes and Parks Committees taking place on the alternate first Wednesdays of each month. Planning meetings generally take place also on Wednesday nights, as and when there are sufficient planning applications to consider. All these meetings begin at 7.30pm. The duration of such meetings depends upon the amount of business that has to be dealt with at each meeting.
Will I get paid?
- Councillors are not paid. Councillors Volunteer their time. All Councillors may claim for certain expenses including mileage allowance.
Will I get support and training?
- New Councillors receive induction training via courses put on by Beds Association of Town & Parish Council and/or Central Bedfordshire Council.
Do I need to represent a political party?
- Although most candidates do represent a political party, it is not a requirement and you can stand as an independent candidate. If you are thinking about standing as an Independent candidate a good source of information is the Politically Independent Candidate website at www.picx.co.uk.
Do you have to pay a fee to stand for the Town Council?
How many people have to nominate me to stand for the Town Council?
- You will require the signatures of 2 other registered electors on your nomination papers.
For more information about Ampthill Town Council please see the attached background information or visit www.ampthilltowncouncil.org.uk
The Council (formerly Ampthill Urban District Council) has been a Successor Town Council since April 1974, pursuant to the Local Government Act 1972. It is geographically situated in Central Bedfordshire with a population of approximately 7000.
The Council's Administrative Staff comprises of the Town Clerk who is head of the paid service, a Deputy Town Clerk, an Administrative Assistant and a part-time Office Administrator. There is also a Parks Team comprising four full-time employees; a part-time General Assistant and four other part-time staff (Caretakers, cleaners, etc.)
The Parks Team comprises of a Park Development Manager a nominated Deputy and two Park Keepers.
The Council has 12 members and meets in the Council Chamber, 66 Dunstable Street, Ampthill..
Business of the Council is conducted via a full Council meeting once per month (excluding August) and through the following regular Committees:-
- Finance, Policy and General Purposes
- Planning and Development
- Parks and Open Spaces
- and others arranged as necessary from time to time.
Most meetings are held in the evenings (normally Wednesdays).
Land and Property
Ampthill Town Council owns the following land and property:
- Ampthill Park (approx 180 acres of parkland and woodland)
- Cooper's Hill (approx 30 acres of open heathland), managed on the Council's behalf by The Wildlife Trust
- Ampthill Town Cemetery, Gas House Lane (approx 2 acres)
- The Alameda (an avenue of lime trees leading to the War Memorial)
- Sweetbriar (an avenue of beech trees)
- Verne Drive (public open space)
- Kings Arms Path Garden
- Allotments - (Everitt's Field & Grange Farm, a total of 115 plots)
- Car Parks - The Sands (Woburn Street), Town Centre Car Park (off Church St/Bedford St - leased to Waitrose)
- Public Halls - Nottingham Rooms (Woburn Street), Parkside Hall* (Woburn Street). (* The Council are the Official Custodian and provide administrative and accounting services to Parkside)
- Bus Shelters - Bedford Street (2), Dunstable Street (1), Flitwick Road (1)
- Street Lighting - 169 light columns and floodlights
- Other Major Property - Town Clock, Town Pump, Ampthill Alameda War Memorial, Alameda Gates, Katherine's Cross, Duke of Bedford War Memorial, Children's Play Equipment, Seats, litter bins, Tractor, Mowers and Machinery, Civic Regalia, Market equipment
- Flower Basketsand Road Verges - The Council provides hanging baskets in the Town Centre each Spring/Summer, and is carrying out a programme of planting Spring flowering bulbs in grass verges on the four main access roads to the town.
Grants and Donations
The Council award grant aid to local organisations.
So You Want To Be a Central Bedfordshire Unitary Councillor?
Ampthill Ward (Comprising Ampthill, Maulden & Clophill)
Electing 3 Councillors serving 5,269 households and 9,251 electors
Next Election: May 2015
To stand for election you must fulfil the following criteria on the day of nomination:
- 18 years or over
- UK, EU or Commonwealth citizen
- Registered to vote in the Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority area or
- Lived or worked in the area for 1 year
- Owned or tenanted land or premises in the area for 1 year
You may not stand for election if:
- You work for Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority
- You hold a politically restricted post in another authority
- You are bankrupt
- You have served a prison sentence (including suspended sentences) of 3 months or more within the last 5 years
- You have been disqualified under legislation relating to illegal or corrupt practices.
A Notice of Election will be published throughout the new unitary authority area giving details of how to apply to stand for election. Nomination papers for those interested in standing for election are available from both Ampthill Town Council and Central Beds Council. You need to be nominated by 10 electors from the Ampthill, Maulden or Clophill and completed nomination papers must be submitted to the Counting Officer at Central Beds Council at Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Beds
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many councillors will be elected to represent Ampthill, Maulden & Clophill?
- How long would my term of office be?
Your period of office will be 4 years, with fresh elections taking place in 2015, with subsequent elections then taking place every 4 years thereafter.
- How much time will I have to commit?
This is very much up to the individual and is dependant on other commitments. As a new Councillor, you would attend Council meetings, have ward surgeries, undertake casework and become a member of at least one Committee. Once established, you might take on extra commitments such as being a member of a task force, becoming a committee vice-chairman, joining the Planning Committee or becoming a Member of the Executive. A recent survey of Members time commitment showed that the average time spent was 12 hours per week. This figure included Members of the Executive who are likely to spend a much more time than new Members.
- When are meetings held?
Meetings start at various times of the day and evening and they normally last about 2-3 hours. Every Councillor is a member of at least one committee and is also expected to attend meetings of full Council.
- Will I get paid?
All Councillors receive a basic annual allowance. All Councillors may claim for certain expenses including mileage allowance.
- Will I get support and training?
New Councillors will be partnered with a mentor who will help them in all aspects of their new role.An Induction meeting will be held where new Councillors can meet with other Councillors, both new and experienced, learn about the authority and be introduced to the Chief Officers. A Training and Development scheme is available so that Councillors can receive the education and guidance they need to fulfil the role.
- Do I need to represent a political party?
Although most candidates do represent a political party, it is not a requirement and you can stand as an independent candidate. If you are thinking about standing as an Independent candidate a good source of information is the Politically Independent Candidate website at www.picx.co.uk.
Visit: Be a Councillor or more information