Becoming a councillor is a rewarding form of public service that puts people in a position where they can make a difference to the quality of someone's daily life. However, being a councillor is also a lot of hard work. Every day, councillors have to balance the needs and interests of their residents, voters, political parties and the council.

All these groups will make legitimate demands on the councillor's time on top of their personal responsibilities to family, workplace and friends. It is therefore important that councillors understand their role so that they can perform responsibly and effectively for the council and maintain the quality of their personal lives.

The councillor's role takes in:

  • ward representation 
  • decision making
  • policy and strategy review and development
  • overview and scrutiny
  • regulatory duties
  • community leadership and networking

Ward representation

The primary role of a councillor is to represent the ward and the citizens who live in it. Members of political parties may find that their party offers guidance on doing this.

Decision making

Councillors have a central part to play in making decisions that impact on their ward and across the whole council. They will be involved in decision-making through:

  • council
  • regulatory committees such as planning or licensing
  • local voluntary organisation management

Policy and strategy review and development

Councillors influence and determine the development and review of the council's policy and strategy. They can contribute to the policy process through their: 

  • role with the overview and scrutiny function 
  • involvement in advisory groups 
  • interaction with Executive members 
  • role as a representative on local community groups 
  • case work
  • membership of a political group

Overview and scrutiny

Councillors have always been required to scrutinise the council. Overview and scrutiny is a natural extension of representation. The overview and scrutiny process has recently become more clearly defined and distinct and the role of councillors now includes:

  • providing a check on the activities of the Executive through call-in powers
  • monitoring and reviewing policy formulation and implementation
  • policy development
  • quality review

Regulatory duties

Local authorities are not just service providers, they also act as regulators. This involves councillors in quasi-judicial roles on special committees appointed directly by the council, such as planning and licensing committees.

How the council works

Councils are large organisations that employ hundreds of staff. To help them function effectively, councils have clearly set out rules and procedures, which they adhere to.

The Council's Constitution provides the framework within which the council conducts its business and makes decisions. It describes who is responsible for making decisions and how those decisions are taken.

We hope that this makes things clear, but if you have any questions please feel free to contact us by telephoning (01926) 456114 or by email to