Councillors' Q&A

Councillors are representatives of the people of Powys elected to become a member of the County Council at Local Elections.  County Councillors are elected every 4 years and are democratically accountable to residents in their electoral division.  Their overriding duty is to the whole community of Powys, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them.

You can contact your councillor to help you if you have a local issue that you want to bring to their attention or are dissatisfied with a Council Service.

What do Councillors do?

Councillors collectively take decisions which affect the lives of everybody who lives, works or visits Powys.  They have overall responsibility for the work of the County Council – its strategies and policies and how it performs.

Although it is the duty of a councillor to represent the whole community, they have a special responsibility to champion the needs of the constituents within their wards.  Councillors have a duty to know what is going on in their area, and to help with any issues and queries that a constituent may have.  For example this could mean helping to solve a housing problem or arranging for a new road sign.

Councillors are community leaders and work in partnership with many local bodies and forums, for example health boards, police authorities and schools.  In this way councillors develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of the organisations that serve their communities.

Above all councillors should listen to the needs of local people and take their views into account when making decisions.

 

Why are Councillors Important?

Councillors are important because they are the voice of the community and play a vital role in the functioning of democracy.  They are the community representatives and campaign on local issues in order to further the quality of life and development of their ward and the county as a whole.

Do Councillors get paid?

Each councillor receives a basic allowance, which is paid in monthly instalments.  The allowance recognises the time devoted by councillors to their work, including inevitable phone calls and their time at meetings etc, incidental costs such as the use of their home and telephone.  In addition councillors may claim travel expenses and, in some cases, subsistence for their attendance at approved events.

Some councillors also receive a special responsibility allowance in recognition of particular duties they undertake. 

For more information on councillors’ allowances within Powys County Council visit Members Allowances and Expenses

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Is it ok for me to contact my local councillor at home and on weekends?

Yes, when a member of the community becomes a councillor it is on the understanding that they are accessible to the public throughout all of the week and at home as well as when they are in the council offices.

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What ethical standards can I expect of my Councillor?

When councillors are elected they agree to follow a code of conduct, this ensures high standards in the way that they conduct their duties. 

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How is the Chairman of the Council elected?

The Chairman of the council is elected on a yearly basis at the Annual General Meeting of Council which takes place in May.

 

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Who is the Current Chairman of Powys County Council?

The Chairman of Council changes annually.  For more information, contact the Chairman's PA/Secretary - Tel:  01597 826369 

How busy are councillors?

It is for the individual councillor to decide the level of commitment that they are willing to give; it also depends on their role within the council and the number of duties that they take on.  Councillors need to devote time to dealing with queries from their constituents, and are likely to receive a lot a mail, e-mail, telephone calls and personal visits.  Constituents contact their councillors at all times of the day – not always at a reasonable hour!

Councillors are expected to attend all formal council meetings and committees on which they are a member.  Some weeks there may be more scheduled meetings than others.  If you are an elected chairperson or cabinet member the role can be very demanding as the responsibilities are greater.  Many councillors also represent the council on outside organisations and at conferences and may have to travel some distance to attend these meetings.

For the majority of meetings councillors will need to read detailed papers and background information.  Councillors are also invited to attend at numerous seminars and training events.

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What support do councillors receive?

Council officers are employed to carry out the decisions of councillors and are fully committed to help councillors fulfil their duties by offering advice and guidance on any issue.

In most cases it will be the senior officers e.g. the chief executive, directors and heads of service who are the first port of call.

Councillors also receive administrative support from the member services unit which is specifically dedicated to supporting the needs of councillors and acting as a liaison between councillors, officers and members of the public.

A work area situated within the council suite is also provided for use by all councillors and has facilities such as computers, printers, telephones and stationery.

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How long are councillors in office?

Generally, County Councillors serve a four year term of office, unless they are elected at a by-election whereby they serve until the next scheduled council elections.  Of course they can resign or become disqualified from office.

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How do I become a councillor?

To become a councillor you should stand for local election and win. The criteria for standing as a candidate is that you must be:

  • at least 18 years old
  • a British citizen, or a citizen of another Commonwealth country, the Republic of Ireland or another member state of the European Union.

In addition you must also meet at least one of the following qualifications during the whole of the 12 months before the day you are nominated and on polling day:

 

  • you are registered as a local government elector for the local authority area which you wish to stand
  • you own or are the tenant of any land or premises in the local authority in which you wish to stand.
  • your main or only place of work has been in the local authority area

 

You may not stand as a councillor if you:

 

  • are employed by the local authority, hold a paid office (including joint committees) or hold a political restricted post with another council
  • are bankrupt
  • have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including a suspended sentence) during the five years before election day
  • have been disqualified under Part III of the Representation of the People Act 1983 or under the Audit Commission Act 1998
  • Are currently disqualified from being a councillor by the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

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Are all councillors members of a political party?

No, many Councillors stand as an independents, although currently all bar one belong to one of the four political groups which have been declared in Powys.

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Contacting the Council

In addition to contacting your local councillor you can, of course, contact council officers.  Contact details are available by clicking on this link.