Prospective councillors

Kent County Council is led by 81 democratically elected councillors, also known as members. Councillors represent people within their electoral division and develop council policy.

Councillors are elected every 4 years, and the next election will take place on 6 May 2021.

A councillor's roles and responsibilities include:

  • attending meetings to guide decisions on local services
  • community leadership and engagement
  • scrutinising cabinet and council decisions
  • advocating for local issues and concerns
  • contributing to council policies and strategies.

Read a full list of a councillor's roles and responsibilities.

Understanding local government

Local Government can come in two forms, unitary or two-tier. Kent follows a two-tier system, and is separated into one county council and 12 district, city, and borough councils. There are also a number of parish councils within Kent.

The district councils are responsible for collecting council tax, refuse collection and housing. Parish, community and town councils operate at a level below district and borough councils and provide services such as allotments, bus shelters and play areas and equipment

As a county council, we are responsible for services such as adult social care, education, highways, libraries, consumer protection, and emergency planning.

We have a constitution which outlines the functions, processes and responsibilities of all aspects of Kent County Council, including councillors and officers. This is approved by the Council.

Commitments and meetings

Councillors will have different amounts of time allocated to their duties depending on the roles and responsibilities they take on.

The Local Government Association (LGA) Councillors’ Census 2018 found that on average, councillors spent 22 hours per week on council business. Council meetings were found to be the biggest contributor to this, with members spending 8 hours per week in council meetings.

You can watch some of our council meetings live online, giving you the chance to see council decision making in action. All of our meetings are being held virtually until May 2021.

Allowances and expenses

All councillors receive a basic allowance (£15,406.25 for 2020/21) to perform their duties.

Elected members who take on special responsibilities such as being a cabinet member or a committee chair receive an additional allowance.

They can claim travelling expenses for their official duties and are also allowed to claim expenses for caring responsibilities, either for a child under 15 or a dependent adult.

Read more about councillor expenses.

Support and events

A comprehensive induction programme for new and returning elected members is planned which is being overseen by the Member Development Sub-Committee. This will include the provision of IT equipment and support.

A prospective councillor virtual event took place on 9 December 2020.

Watch the prospective councillor virtual event

The County Returning Officer presented an elections update to the Selection and Member Services Committee on 25 February 2021.

Watch the County Returning Officers update

The update begins at 05:05 and ends at 27:55.

How to become a councillor

To stand in the upcoming election, you must follow these steps.

Step 1: check your eligibility

To stand in a Kent County Council election you must be:

  • British or a citizen of the Commonwealth or European Union
  • at least 18 years old
  • registered to vote in Kent or have lived, worked or owned property in the county for at least 12 months before an election.

You cannot become a councillor if you:

  • work for Kent County Council or for another local authority in a politically restricted post
  • are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
  • have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including suspended sentences) during the five years before election day
  • have been convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice by an election court.

For further details about qualifications and disqualifications, the Electoral Commission has produced guidance and resources for candidates and agents.

Step 2: decide if you want to stand for a political party or as an independent

If you are eligible you must decide if you want to stand for a political party or as an independent. To stand:

  • for a political party, you need to contact them directly and take part in their selection process
  • as an independent, resources and advice are available via the LGA Independent Office and the independent Campaign Corner websites.

Step 3: read the Electoral Commision guide

After you have chosen who you will stand for, you can read the Electoral Commission guide on how to put yourself forward for an election.

Step 4: complete and submit your nomination papers during the nomination period

The County Returning Officer appoints 12 Deputy Returning Officers (DROs) in each of the city/borough/district councils in Kent to administer and conduct the poll in their area on behalf of Kent County Council. Your main point of contact during the election process will be your DRO via their elections office. Find contact details for your local elections office.

Nomination papers will be available from your local election office. Nomination papers can be submitted to your local elections office between 10am and 4pm on working days between Monday 22 March and Thursday 8 April. Nomination papers must contain the signatures of 2 registered electors (known as subscribers) from the division that you wish to stand in; this is a temporary change to reduce the travel and contact involved with the nomination process. Your local DRO will hold candidate and agent briefings to outline the election process.

The Electoral Commission has updated guidance and resources for candidates and agents which outlines the revised nomination process in Part 2a for independent candidates and in Part 2b for party candidates.

Step 5: build your local profile, reputation, and campaign

You will be ready to campaign to stand for election.

Under the current national lockdown, leafleting and door-knocking by party activists is not permissible. The government has announced that it will amend the regulations to enable a broader range of campaign-related activity from 8 March.

The government has uprated election expenses for councils to provide greater opportunity for candidates to campaign via digital channels. Election expenses have been increased from £740.00 plus 6p per local government elector to £806; plus 7p per local government elector in the electoral division registered to vote on the last day for publication of the notice of election in the electoral division which you are standing for.

Please note lower spending limits apply to joint candidates. The Electoral Commission has updated its guidance and resources for candidates and agents relating to election expenses in the Part 3 spending and donations guidance.

For more information about the process or if you have any other questions email elections@kent.gov.uk.