Become a Town Councillor
MAKE A CHANGE
BECOME A WITHAM TOWN COUNCILLOR
Witham Town Council is made up of 16 Councillors across 5 wards. Full Town Council elections take place every 4 years, the most recent being May 2023 and the next May 2027.
There are 3 ways to become a Town Councillor:
Ordinary elections are held every 4 years, and all 16 seats become subject to election. Elected Councillors serve a term of 4 years, taking office 4 days after the election. The next ordinary election will be May 2027.
If a vacancy arises between ordinary elections a by-election may be held for that one seat. The elected councillor will serve the remainder of the term and retire with other councillors at the next ordinary election.
If an insufficient number of candidates stand for an ordinary election leaving seats vacant, or a by-election is not triggered when a casual vacancy arises, the existing councillors may vote to co-opt a councillor to serve the term.
What Does a Town Councillor Do?
Town Councillors work together to set the policy direction of the Town Council. Councillors attend regular meetings of the council and its committees to make decisions on a range of matters deciding what services should be delivered, where money should be spent and what policies should be implemented.
Councillors represent the local community, both residents of their ward and the town as a whole. Councillors will be contacted by residents who have problems they need assistance with and some councillors can be appointed to serve on outside bodies.
Frequently Asked Questions
ARE COUNCILLORS PAID?
No, our councillors do not receive an allowance. The exception to this is the Town Mayor who receives an allowance to meet the expenses of that office.
We do reimburse some expenses such as mileage but we are unable (by law) to reimburse childcare costs.
WHO DECIDES IF THERE WILL BE A BY-ELECTION?
A casual vacancy arises when a councillor leaves office between ordinary elections. This could be through resignation, death, disqualification or by failing to attend meetings.
When a casual vacancy arises, the Town Clerk will publish a notice giving the electors living in the ward 14 working days the opportunity to demand an election. If 10 electors write to the Returning Officer at Braintree District Council to request an election a by-election is triggered.
If fewer than 10 request an election, the town council must instead co-opt a councillor to fill the vacancy.
If the vacancy occurs within the 6 months before an ordinary election no by-election will be held even if demanded. If a by-election is not demanded the council can choose to leave the vacancy unfilled until the election.
WHAT SUPPORT IS PROVIDED?
The Town Clerk provides an induction for all new councillors and part of her role is provide advice and support to all councillors. Experienced councillors are often happy to support new councillors ‘find their feet’.
We encourage councillors to undertake training relevant to their roles and the needs of the council.
WHERE DO THE WARDS COME INTO IT?
Witham is divided into five wards (see ward map): Witham North, Witham South, Witham West, Central Ward and Hatfield Ward. It is the electors of the ward who vote in any given election, a councillor does not have to live in the ward they stand in.
In any election, you can only stand once i.e. in one ward. If you stand for more than one you will be not be validly nominated in either. However, you are not tied to a ward, so if you stand for election in Central ward in one election, you could stand in Witham West ward at the next.
CAN I BE A MEMBER OF A POLTICAL PARTY / DO I HAVE TO BE?
Councillors can stand for election (or co-option) as candidates for a political party, to do so they must have permission from the party, usually through the local branch.
Councillors can also be independent of political parties.
WHO CAN BE A WITHAM TOWN COUNCILLOR?
Anyone aged 18 or over can stand for election (or co-option) if they meet certain qualification criteria. The first is that you are a British citizen, a citizen of either an eligible commonwealth nation or a qualifying EU citizen or EU citizen with retained rights.
The second qualification criteria is your connection to Witham; there are four different criteria you could meet and you only need to meet one of them to be able to stand.
You are on the electoral register for Witham at the time of nomination and will remain on it throughout your term of office.
Occupied Land in Witham
You have occupied land or premises in Witham as owner/tenant for the 12 months preceding nomination (and election)
Work in Witham
Your main/only place of work is in Witham or has been during the past 12 months – this includes voluntary work if it is the main/only work you undertake.
Live in Witham
You have lived in Witham (or within 3 miles of the boundary) for the 12 months preceding nomination (and election)
You are disqualified from being a Town Councillor if any of the following apply: you are an employee/paid officer of Witham Town Council, you are subject a bankruptcy restrictions order/interim order, you have been sentenced (including suspended sentences) to a term of imprisonment of three months or more within the 5 years prior to polling day or you have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 e.g. for corrupt or illegal electoral practices.
Detailed guidance on qualification and disqualification can be found on the Electoral Commission website.