East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council can only be as effective, relevant and vibrant as the people elected to run it. The council needs councillors who are capable, energetic and engaged, with a commitment to local people and a passion for change.

What matters to you in your local area? Is it providing more things for young people to do, improving services for older people, making the roads safer or ensuring that local businesses can thrive? Whatever needs changing in your local area, you could be the person to change it by becoming a county councillor.

East Sussex County Council can only be as effective, relevant and vibrant as the people elected to run it. The council needs councillors who are capable, energetic and engaged, with a commitment to local people and a passion for change.

Decisions made by councillors affect the lives of everyone in the area in countless ways. Representing the population of over half a million across East Sussex, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action are the most important tasks that any councillor undertakes.

If you think being an East Sussex county councillor is for you, read on to find out more.

Transcript of East Sussex Be a Councillor film

About East Sussex County Council

County councillors are the elected representatives of East Sussex County Council. They are elected for four years unless they are elected at a by-election, in which case they must stand again at the next normal election for the seat.

Representing people in East Sussex, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action is the most important task that any councillor undertakes. Significantly, it is also often the role that local people value most.

East Sussex County Council covers a large geographical area, which was broken down into 50 electoral divisions in May 2017. County councillors are elected to serve East Sussex and to specifically represent one of these electoral divisions on the council – making a total of 50 councillors. Find out about the current political make-up of the council.

How do I become a councillor in East Sussex?

To become a councillor you have to stand at local elections and compete with other candidates to gain the most votes from the local electorate.

You do not have to belong to or represent a political party to stand in the elections. You can stand as an Independent Candidate or choose not to have a description to your name.

If you choose to stand for a party you will need to go through their selection process before you can be put forward as their candidate. Please contact your political party as soon as you can. You can also contact the Local Government Association (LGA) political offices.

If you are interested in support for independent politics, you can get in touch with the LGA Independent Group and access the resources on their website.


A virtual pre-election event for prospective candidates or anyone interested in finding out more about standing for election as a county councillor is being held online on Tuesday 3 November from 6pm-7pm. The event will include information about the County Council, and an opportunity to ask questions of current councillors about what the role involves. Places must be reserved in advance – please register here by 30 October.

Key dates

The next East Sussex County Council election is scheduled to take place on 6 May 2021. A detailed timetable of key dates leading up to the election will be available here nearer the time.

Does East Sussex pay councillors?

Councillors are not paid a salary but they are entitled to receive a ‘basic allowance’ which is intended to recognise the time devoted to their work on behalf of the people of East Sussex and in connection with council business. Each council sets its own rate for members’ allowances. Find out more about councillors’ alllowances at East Sussex County Council.

What support will I receive from East Sussex?

East Sussex County Council is committed to providing councillors with advice and support for all aspects of their role. After an election, all new councillors are required to attend an induction programme to enable them to meet the key people who will support them in their role and attend learning and development events to familiarise them with the work of the council, the expectations of councillors and ways in which they can carry out key tasks.

Councillors are also provided with ongoing learning and development support to broaden their knowledge, skills and confidence. In the first few weeks experienced county councillors will be available to guide you in getting to know the workings of the county council and your role within it.

You will also be offered ICT equipment which will allow you to access your email, intranet and other services whilst at home or on the go. The County Council has a paperless policy for its meetings supported by appropriate technology.

What support is available from East Sussex for councillors with disabilities?

The County Hall complex is a DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) friendly campus. The council chamber and committee rooms are fitted with an audio loop system. Specialist office and ICT software may also be purchased for councillors with visual or hearing impairment. Councillors with special needs are encouraged to contact Member Services following their election to discuss their personal needs.

How can I find out about training and development at East Sussex?

Email democratic.services@eastsussex.gov.uk for further information.

Hear from East Sussex county councillors

Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe

Ruth was first elected county councillor for Lewes in 2005 and she has lived in East Sussex since 1987. She is a teacher by profession, and has also worked as an administrator at a special school, raising money for equipment and resources for the children. She is currently working as a councillor at three levels, County, District and Town.

In 1998, Ruth was a parent governor at a local Lewes primary school. A colleague from the town council asked if she’d ever considered standing in the local elections, so that sparked her interest.

Ruth decided to stand as a councillor as she wanted to make a positive difference to the local community. She enjoys being able to help people resolve issues by providing them with the information they require, making sure that their views are heard, and that the council and relevant officers are fully aware of local feeling.

Particular concerns for Ruth include traffic, parking, how residents access services, flooding and approaching local government. And if she has any spare time she enjoys reading, walking, gardening, knitting, sewing and takes an interest in environmental issues.

Cllr Godfrey Daniel

Godfrey was elected as County Councillor for Braybrooke and Castle, Hastings, in 1997. He previously worked in local government as an officer for Lambeth Borough Council where he was Head of Pupil and Student services, and then worked in East Sussex as an Education Welfare Officer. Before that, he was a teacher. He moved to Hastings in 1984 and after taking early retirement from working in local government, he decided to devote his time to improving the area where he lives.

The major concerns in his division are crime and the fear of crime, poor housing standards and the high rate of unemployment. Improving standards of education is also very important to Godfrey, along with transport and infrastructure initiatives that help to regenerate the Hastings area.

He is particularly proud to have helped with the campaign to improve the town centre library and its expansion, and very much supported the Bexhill/Hastings link road which was completed in 2015.

Outside of politics Godfrey is president of Hastings Welsh Society and has a great passion for music and supports various musical societies.

Cllr Carolyn Lambert

Carolyn is actively committed to representing the views of local people. She has previously been elected to Seaford Town Council and Lewes District Council, and was elected to East Sussex County Council in June 2009. She has used every opportunity positively to raise issues of concern to local residents.

In her work as a councillor, Carolyn draws upon her previous experience of working at senior management level in local government. She believes that this enables her to communicate effectively with officers to ensure that Seaford residents receive the best possible advice and support.

Her family has lived in East Sussex for four generations. Her great-grandparents started a village shop in Barcombe and her grandfather was chair of Barcombe Parish Council, so perhaps being a councillor is in her genes!

Carolyn was inspired to stand as a councillor as a result of the change in government policy which enables assets (buildings or land) to be transferred to the community for their use and benefit. She believes the best thing about politics is being able to help people with their concerns or simply to get their voices heard if they are concerned about local issues. In her spare time, Carolyn is a professionally trained singer and knits socks! She has completed a PhD and has published a book about Elizabeth Gaskell.

Cllr David Elkin

David was first elected on 5th May 2005. He represents the Eastbourne Sovereign Division. He is currently Chairman of the Council and has previously been Deputy Leader. He previously worked as a mechanical engineer, before joining a national dairy firm as a milkman – ending up as an area manager. He then ran a pub for seven years.

David moved to Eastbourne in 1991 to run a hotel on the seafront. He became involved with the hotels association which brought him into contact with Eastbourne Borough Council. This started his interest in local politics and he decided to stand as a borough councillor. He wanted to be a county councillor to make a difference and help issues in his local area.In his spare time he enjoys travelling, golf and walking.

How do I find out which electoral division in East Sussex I live in?

Please search by postcode for your electoral division and current county councillor. To find out more about electoral boundaries in East Sussex visit the Boundary Commission website.


You can be a councillor as long as you are:

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

If you are in any doubt about whether you are eligible to stand as a councillor, you should contact the electoral services department at your local contact the electoral services department at your local district or borough council for advice.

You can’t be a councillor if you:

  • Work for the council you want to be a councillor for, 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.
Next steps

To become a councillor you have to put yourself forward at local elections and compete with other candidates to gain the most votes.

Below are some of the most important steps to consider.

  1. Find out when the next local government elections are in your area by checking with your local council).
  2. Make sure you are registered on the electoral roll with your local council.
  3. If you are interested in independent politics (not a political party), you can get resources and advice from the Local Government Association’s Independent Office and the Independent Campaign Corner. As an independent, you will also need to start working out your views on local issues and services.
  4. To stand for a political party, you’ll need to be a member of the party, get involved locally and go through their selection process before you can be put forward as their candidate for election. You can find out more on each party’s website. This can take up to about a year or more, so please contact your political party as soon as you can. You can also contact the Local Government Association (LGA) political offices. 
  5. Almost anyone can be a councillor but check that you are eligible in the ‘Eligibility’ section above.
  6. Hear from real councillors about what it’s like being a councillor and their tips and inspiration 
  7. Get in touch with a councillor to find out more with an informal chat (or ask us to help)
  8. Watch the Be a Councillor film
  9. Use our Be a Councillor worksheets to see how you would handle some real situations as a councillor 
  10. Explore, research and keep up to date about your local area, different communities, services, issues and ideas.
  11. Attend council meetings and local events to find out more about local government and your community.
  12. Read the guidance from the Electoral Commission about the processes and forms to fill out to put yourself forward for election. To become nominated as a candidate at a local government election in England, you need to submit a completed set of nomination papers to the place fixed by the Returning Officer by 4pm on the 19th working day before the poll.
  13. Contact the Democratic Services team at your council to get the necessary paperwork, find out the deadlines, and see what help they can give to submit your papers. Find your local council.
  14. You will need to get 10 people (in the ward where you wish to stand) to sign your nomination papers.
  15. Build your local profile, reputation and campaign. Find out more about campaigning from the Local Government Association’s Independent Office, your political party, or the Electoral Commission.
What is the time commitment involved in being a councillor?’

Council meetings are usually held during normal office hours (9am – 5pm), but can also occur in the evening. The minimum attendance of councillors is likely to be at the Full Council and any meetings of committees, working groups or outside bodies that you may be appointed to.By law your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off to perform your duties as a councillor. However, it is advisable to discuss your intention to stand for election with your employer before submitting your nomination form.

Council’s calendar of meetings
You can also watch our meetings live

Useful contacts

Be a Councillor Email: beacouncillor@local.gov.uk

East Sussex County Council contacts

Claire Lee, Head of Policy and Member Services
Tel: 07523 930526
Email: claire.lee@eastsussex.gov.uk

Andy Cottell
Democratic Services Manager
Tel: 01273 481955
Email: andy.cottell@eastsussex.gov.uk

District and Borough Councils Electoral Officers

Eastbourne Borough Council
Electoral Services
Tel: 01323 410000
Email: electoral@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk

Hastings Borough Council
Katrina Silverson
01424 451747

Lewes District Council
Electoral Services
Tel:01273 471600
Email: electoral@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk

Rother District Council
Susanne Malmgren
Tel: 01424 787825
Email: susanne.malmgren@rother.gov.uk

Wealden District Council
Heather Blanshard
Tel: 01892 602416
Email: Heather.Blanshard@wealden.gov.uk

Electoral Commission
0333 1031928

Common questions about being a councillor

Frequently asked questions about being a councillor