Common Questions about Being a Councillor
Below we've tried to answer some of the most common questions about the job, if you have a question that is not answered below please contact the elections office on 01343 563334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- How long is the term of office?
- How much of my time will being a councillor take up?
- Where will I be attending meetings?
- Is there training for Councillors?
- Will I have my own office at Council Headquarters?
- What is the salary and what expenses can I claim?
- As a Councillor, what support will I get?
- What about computers and communications?
- What about insurance?
The term of office is the length of time a councillor serves before another election. The next term runs for five years (2017-2022) a thereafter the term will revert to a four year term. This is due to the Scottish Parliamentary Elections and the Local Government Elections being decoupled in 2007 no longer being held on the same day or year.
If you are elected at a by-election, you serve until the next scheduled Council elections.
According to the commitments you take on, this can vary from a few hours each week to several hours each day.
Committee meetings are held during the day and last up to 3 hours, you will possibly have to attend meetings in the evening with local community groups and may be required to travel to meetings outside Moray.
In preparation for meetings you will have to read council documents and reports and you will also have to deal with correspondence from the residents in your ward. It can be a challenge to balance this with having a job, a family and outside interests.
You will of course need to attend meetings at Council Headquarters in Elgin. Most of these are held during the working day and so, if you are working in other employment, you will need an understanding employer. In addition, many Councillors represent the Council on one or more outside bodies such as Trusts, Boards and Forums which may have monthly, quarterly, or annual meetings.
There will be a programme of induction and training sessions for new Councillors after elections. Meanwhile, if you'd like to know what committee and council meetings are like, you would be welcome to attend, as most meetings are open to the public. To find out when we have our meetings look at our calendar of Committee Diary Dates. Committee Meetings are also webcast and broadcast over the internet and the public can watch meetings from their computer. Webcasts are archived for 12 months following the meeting and are available to view online.
No, however rooms are set aside within headquarters for the use of Councillors and you will be entitled to share this. You will also have the use of the facilities in the Members' Lounge.
Councillors receive a basic salary of £16,893. You will also be able to claim expenses for correspondence; telephone calls, travel and subsistence, attendance at seminars and conferences and meetings of outside bodies. Some Councillors also receive an added payment in recognition of particular duties they undertake such as being a chairperson of a committee or being Council Leader or Convenor.
All Councillors, including the Leader and Convener of the Council share a pooled service known as Members Support. Members’ Support will provide administrative support and also make the arrangements for any conferences or other events that you may attend on behalf of the Council.
To help you carry out your duties; you will be able to call on information and advice from the senior officers and staff of the Council. Committee Services and Member Services departments in Headquarters may well be the officers you see most often.
Committee Services provide service to the meetings of the Council and its committees; e.g. convening meetings and writing the minutes; and are generally responsible for keeping the democratic system running. The team is there to help you with queries about committee related matters,declarations of interests etc. The team can also help you with the drafting of any motions, amendments and questions you may wish to put at meetings.
The Council provides its members with a phone, personal computer and printer linked to the Internet and email. Councillors will be offered training in using this system and technical support from the Council's staff. Councillors are also supplied with other essential office equipment to allow them to establish an office base at home.
As the Council's business is streamlined the majority of communications is being done via computers and electronic communications. To keep themselves abreast of developments, Councillors need to be able to take advantage of these systems.
The Council covers fully Councillors' legal liability in respect of any claims that may be made against them as a result of carrying out their duties. We also provide a personal accident policy.