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How do I become a local or district c...

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Joined 08-05-2007
Posted on Wednesday, 09 May, 2007 - 09:16 am:   

I would like to participate in local politics, but am not sure how I become a local or parish councillor? Do I have to be in a political party now, or can I associate myself with one as and when an election takes place?

Kind Regards

Joined 22-06-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 09 May, 2007 - 09:43 am:   

Hi Jonathan

Here in Lewisham we have borough councillors and a directly elected mayor who are all elected for four year terms. London boroughs have roughly the same powers as county councils (eg education, social services, waste, planning, highways) and the next elections are in 2010. There is currently no lower level of government (though there is a Bill going through Parliament that will allow London boroughs to establish parish or neighbourhood councils).

You don't need to be in a political party to stand for election - you can be an 'Independent' - but your chances of getting elected are probably enhanced if you have other people working with you and for you, and you'll probably be able to do more on the council if you are part of a group. Most political parties encompass individuals with a range of views, but who share enough views to coalesce around common policies or philosophies to make them distinctive from other parties.

The current groups on Lewisham council are Labour (26), Liberal Democrats (16), Green (6), Conservative (3), Socialist (2), one Independent and the Mayor (Labour). Councillors are individually elected to represent wards, with each ward having 3 councillors (and 54 in total). Here in Forest Hill, you have Forest Hill Ward (3 Lib Dems, including me), Sydenham Ward (3 Lab), Perry Vale ward (3 Lab) and Crofton Park ward (3 Lab).

To stand for election, you will need to get nomination papers from the council's elections department shortly after the 'notice of poll' is published (about 7 weeks before election day), find 10 people from the ward you want to stand in to second your nomination and then submit them to the council by the close of nominations (about 4 weeks before polling day). It's slightly different if you want to stand for Mayor. In both cases, there is a small amount of paperwork you'll need to complete before and after the election. Political parties will often have someone who is responsible for organising this for you.

I hope all this helps.

If you'd like to know more about the Lib Dems locally, please feel free to email me at, or check out I'll leave it to others to advertise contacts for the other parties!
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 09 May, 2007 - 11:37 am:   

Of course you do not need to become a councillor or join a political party to make a difference to the local area. There are many local groups working to improve the local area and while we do not always have the power of councillors, community groups can make a difference.

You may want to come along to the Forest Hill Society meeting on Thursday evening (details at And we are always happy to hear from people who want to become more involved and make a difference in the local area. You may even wish to stand for election to the Forest Hill Society committee at our AGM in September/October.

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