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.
Members’ Financial Support Scheme
Members can apply for an annual, flat rate, allowance based on the City Corporation’s rate for inner-London Weighting. The allowance is optional and is easy to claim and will only create a potential tax liability for those Members who do elect to receive the payment. This new scheme is intended to recompense Members for the duties they undertake on behalf of the City Corporation, while also enabling those who chose not to claim from the scheme to maintain their status as volunteers.
Entitlement to receive payment is not automatic and will only arise once an application is submitted and approved.. Claims under this scheme are capped at £7,500 payable per annum, quarterly, in arrears, as claims are submitted and approved.
Further, more detailed information about the new scheme can be found in the Members' Financial Support Policy PDF below.
In addition to the allowance
- The City Corporation will meet the cost of travel expenses for Members travelling from the Guildhall to a business venue at which they are conducting their City Corporation business, in accordance with the City Corporation’s Business Travel Policy (available on request)
- Overnight accommodation at the Guildhall Complex is provided to Members free of charge when attending certain early morning or late evening meetings or events, or at a subsidised rate otherwise
- Members will have access to IT support and any necessary equipment from the City Corporation’s internal IT team.
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 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 Greg Moore, 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.
Attending meetings of the Court of Common Council or any of the Committees open to the public and reading the various reports about the business before them is another way of finding out more.
Although the City Corporation's work goes beyond that of a straight forward local authority, the Local Government Association has a very good section on its website on how to become a councillor.
To discuss this further email Electoral Services or call 0800 587 5537.