How to become a councillor

Do you want to see a difference in your local community?

Do you think quality of life should be improved for your neighbours?

If the answers are yes and these are the kind of issues that matter to you, then you could be just the person to help make that happen by becoming a Councillor.

Schools, leisure, care services, parks, roads, environmental health, refuse collections, trading standards, and arts and culture are just some of the services delivered by Councils on a daily basis.

No other level of government gives you the chance to make such a difference to the everyday lives of people and communities. And this could be exactly what you could achieve when voters across Scotland will elect the people they want as their Councillors.

Who can be a Councillor?

Anyone can stand for election as a Councillor as long as they are:

  • 18 years of age or over;
  • British, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen (someone who does not need leave to enter or remain in the UK or has indefinite leave to remain) or a citizen of any other member state of the European Union; and
  • meet at least one of the following:
    • be registered to vote in the Council area;
    • have lived in the Council area during the whole of the last 12 months;
    • had main or only place of work in the Council area for the whole of the last 12 months; or
    • have occupied any land or premises in the Council area during the whole of the last 12 months.

Some people are not eligible to be Councillors for legal reasons or because they are disqualified under the nomination criteria. Further information can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

Do I have to be a member of a political party?

You don’t have to be affiliated to a political party to stand for election as a Councillor, although many candidates are. You can stand for election as an independent candidate or on behalf of a political party.

If you wish to stand on behalf of a political party such as Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Green Party, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats or Scottish National Party (SNP), you will need to contact the party concerned in the first instance to discuss the selection process. The party will support you through the official nomination process if you are selected to stand.

If you wish to stand as an independent candidate, you need to ensure you are officially nominated to stand for election.

How do I become nominated?

To become nominated as a candidate at a Council election, you will need to submit a completed nomination form, which needs to be signed and witnessed.

Nomination forms are available from the Council’s Election Office – call 01292 612222, email or call in to the County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr KA7 1DR during office hours. Forms are also available from the Electoral Commission.

Nomination forms can only be submitted between the date of publication of the notice of election – which is expected to be Tuesday 13 March – until 4pm on Thursday 29 March. Forms should be submitted to the Election Office, County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr KA7 1DR.

Every candidate who is nominated to stand at an election may appoint an election agent (although there is no obligation to do so), who is responsible for the proper management of your election campaign, particularly its financial management. You can be your own election agent if you wish. If you appoint another person to be your election agent, the person must agree in writing to being appointed. Details of who your election agent is must be submitted to the Election Office by 4pm on Thursday 29 March.

There is no requirement to pay a deposit at this election, unlike other types of elections.

There is a legal limit on the amount that each candidate can spend at the election. This limit is calculated at £705 plus 6p for every elector on the electoral register in the ward you are contesting.

What happens next?

Once all the nominations are confirmed, a notice of poll will be published, confirming the details of every candidate standing for election in each ward. It’s then up to you to campaign for votes in your ward. Please note that Strathclyde Police has advised that candidates must not use any photographs or images featuring police officers/employees in any election materials.

Who can I contact for further information?