Becoming a councillor
To become a Common Councillor or an Alderman you will need to meet some specific criteria. These qualifying criteria can be downloaded for each role further down the page.
If you are eligible, contact Electoral Services and ask them to add you to their contact list for the next Ward election. They will contact you when this is due and send you a nomination form. This needs to be seconded by five voters from the Ward.
Becoming a councillor in the City (known as a Common Councillor or Member of the Court of Common Council) enables people to play a valuable part in the running of the Square Mile, contribute to civic life generally and make a difference to the quality of people's lives. Unlike councillors elsewhere, the position in the City is a purely voluntary role and it is not remunerated, although there is some help available to cover loss of earnings.
Aldermen are a team of ambassadors and stewards of the City for the long-term economic success and social well-being of the UK.
Together, the Court of Aldermen:
- Promote the relevance and credibility of the “Civic, Commercial, Corporation, Charitable, Cultural, and Community” efforts of the City in collaboration with fellow elected Members and stakeholders
- Engage locally, nationally and globally on behalf of the City identifying, accessing, convening, messaging and profiling issues that are of relevance to stakeholders; and
- Protect the integrity of the City of London Corporation and its wider institutions by providing oversight, scrutiny and guidance while serving and providing leadership in their Wards.
They also ensure continuity and coherence on behalf of the City of London, the oldest continuous democracy in the world, and work closely with Members of the Court of Common Council (of which they are also full members).
The City is divided into 25 Wards. Each has one Alderman and between two and ten councillors, depending on the size of the electorate. In total, there are 25 Aldermen and 100 Common Councillors.
Aldermen are elected for six years from their date of election, so there is no single date on which they are elected. There is, however, a local election for all 100 councillors every four years and occasional by-elections. The next local election will be in March 2021.
The work of the City Corporation is overseen by the Court of Common Council and certain key decisions are taken by that body. It meets nine times a year, the meetings beginning at 1pm preceded by an informal buffet lunch. There are two additional informal meetings of the Court each year, in February and November.
The majority of the City Corporation's work is, however, carried out through various committees which are established by the Court. The committees generally meet either late morning (typically 11.30) or at 1.45pm. A modest lunch is often provided after or before meetings – which gives a good opportunity for informal discussion.
Each councillor has an opportunity to serve on two or three Committees made up of representatives from each of the various 25 wards. These are known as Ward Committees and they have broad responsibilities, including oversight of the City Corporation's finances, planning and transportation, community and children's services, port health and environmental services and culture, heritage and libraries responsibilities. The members of each ward agree among themselves who will serve on these Committees but there are also opportunities to be elected to them.
There are also a number of committees that are elected by the Court; members need to put their names forward for election to these committees and most members seek to serve on one or more. The work of these committees is wide-ranging and includes our police authority work, policy and resources, the running of the Barbican Centre, the City's open spaces and schools and much more.
Councillors are also invited to events during the day or in the evening, such as visits to open spaces or other operational sites. Attendance at these events is voluntary, but to play a full part in the work of the Court members should expect to have an involvement that goes beyond simply attending meetings.
Councillors need to prepare for committee meetings and new members can also take advantage of a comprehensive induction programme to help them be effective as soon as possible.
At a minimum, councillors can expect to spend the equivalent of half a day on City business spread over a working week; those holding major committee chairmanships or who serve on a number of committees will find the time commitment to be more than that; for some positions considerably so.
Most councillors around the UK are representatives of political parties and stand on a party ticket, with the party handling many of the arrangements and giving the candidates support with their campaigns. There is nothing stopping political parties putting up candidates in the City but they rarely do and most members, in their role as a councillor in the City, are independent of party politics.
Candidates in the City standing as independents are unlikely to have the level of support available to candidates for election standing elsewhere, including identifying where to stand, writing a manifesto and canvassing. Aspiring candidates in the City often already have contacts and draw on those to help with their elections. A useful first step is to make your interest in standing known to existing members as vacancies can arise unexpectedly, for example where a member suddenly decides to retire. Officers are also a good point of contact to find more information and Angela Roach, Assistant Town Clerk, can help in this respect. She can put you in touch with members who can provide further guidance about the work of councillors and how to be elected.
Other options worth considering are becoming involved in a ward club (every ward has one, comprising people interested in the City and the ward), or in the work of a local residents' associations, such as Barbican Association, Golden Lane Estate and Middlesex Street Estate Residents' Association.
To discuss this further email Electoral Services or call 0800 587 5537.