West Sussex County Council

West 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 giving children the best start in life, ensuring local residents feel safe and secure in their communities, a stronger local economy or helping ensure people can remain independent in later life Whatever needs changing in your local area, you could be the person to change it by becoming a county councillor.

West 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 West Sussex, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action are the most important tasks that any councillor undertakes.

About West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council covers a large geographical area which is broken down into 70 electoral divisions. 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 West 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.

West Sussex County Council covers a large geographical area, which is broken down into 70 electoral divisions. County councillors are elected to serve West Sussex and to specifically represent one of these electoral divisions on the council – making a total of 70 councillors.

Find out about the current political make-up of the council.

How do I become a councillor in West 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.

In order to stand at the elections you must first get a set of nomination papers from the relevant District or Brough Council for the area you would wish to represent. Please refer to the useful contacts section for contact details. These nomination packs will only be available nearer the election date. 

Hear from our councillors

Be a Councillor – Cllr Sujan Wickremaratchi

Be a Councillor – Cllr Kirsty Lord

(Please note these films were made in 2019)

Is there a job description for West Sussex councillors?

Yes, there is a job description for members:

As a democratically elected local representative, members of the County Council hold a unique position and the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.

As one of the 70 members of the County Council, councillors are not only responsible for representing around 9,000 residents in your division, but also the 800,000+ people who live in West Sussex, local businesses and those who work in or visit the county who also use some of the County Councils’ services. Members are expected to carry out their duties in the public interest, equally and without discrimination.

To fulfil their strategic role members are expected to:

  1. Participate in the effective and responsible management of the County Council by contributing or scrutinising its budget, strategies and policies, its commissioning activity and the services it delivers.
  2. Act as the County Council’s representative on such outside bodies or organisations which they are appointed by the County Council.
  3. Dedicate adequate time to fulfil their role as a member and attend all meetings they are a member of or have been appointed to whenever possible.
  4. Lead by example in setting high standards of conduct in public life as defined by the Nolan Principles.
  5. Participate in induction training and ongoing training and development to maintain skills and knowledge.
  6. Develop and maintain a working knowledge of the Council’s services, management arrangements, functions/duties and constraints and to develop good working relationships with relevant officers of the authority.
  7. To act as a Corporate Parent for children in the care of the County Council.

A councillor’s primary role is to represent the residents within their electoral division. Members provide a bridge between the community and the County Council by being an advocate for their local residents and signposting them to the right people at the council. Therefore, members need to keep themselves informed about the issues that affect their community.

In their local role, members are expected to:

Provide community leadership  

  • Be accessible locally, offer clear ways for the community to get in touch, have good personal networks and are visible to interact with the local voluntary and community sector. 
  • Communicate with residents utilising local opportunities for surgeries, attending community events/meetings, social media and newsletters.
  • Keep up to date about local and county matters that may affect their residents.
  • Work with local community groups who are interested in supporting/developing improved local services.
  • Understand how the council operates and are able to explain this to their residents including the strategic role of the county council.
  • Explain how council policy may affect a community and how a community can influence future policy.

Make things happen

  • Be knowledgeable about the council and its services and who does what or be willing to find out.
  • Manage expectations, offer alternatives and explain what cannot be done.
  • Help, where possible, to solve problems for local residents.
  • Work collaboratively within the council and the community.
  • Campaign if appropriate.

Be involved in the community 

  • Maintain partnership links with members from the other tiers of local government to promote efficiencies and a ‘One Council’ approach to local service delivery.
  • Help, where possible, to solve local issues in liaison with staff, partners and other local organisations.
  • Visit local community organisations, understand the role they play in the community, help with local issues and support their sustainability.
  • Represent local community life, the local needs of the most vulnerable and the need to work in partnership and foster strong relationships with local community leaders.
  • Work with officers to ensure appropriate local solutions are supported to improve the resilience of communities.
  • Sit on other local bodies as required/appropriate.

Listen to residents:

  • Be aware of local issues and concerns.
  • Listen well and act decisively when all the evidence is available.
  • Be friendly and approachable.
  • Hold surgeries or have other mechanisms for being available to people.

Represent your communities

  • Represent ALL residents and members of the community ensuring that their needs as customers are met wherever possible.
  • Be aware of the performance of the County Council generally and in your division and act to address low or poor performance.
  • Make the views of the community known.

Behave ethically: County Councillors:

  • Observe the County Council’s adopted Code of Conduct.
  • Register interests as appropriate.
  • Be aware of the County Council’s Constitution.
  • Respect everyone in the community and treat people as individuals.
What does it involve?

In becoming a member of the county council you take on an important community leadership role, which will need to be balanced with your contribution to the strategic role of being involved the development of countywide policies and service delivery (see below).

The people you represent will look to you for help in dealing with their problems, even if these do not involve the work of the Council. You are likely to receive a lot of post/emails and many telephone calls. Not every caller will telephone at what you might think is a reasonable hour!

As a local member, residents expect you to: 

  • Respond to their queries and investigate their concerns (casework)
  • Communicate council decisions that affect them
  • Be familiar with the division and be aware of any problems
  • Know and work with representatives of local organisations (e.g. town/parish councils, community groups), interest groups and businesses
  • Represent their views at county council meetings
  • Lead local campaigns on their behalf

Each member approaches the role differently – there is no set way of doing things. The time you have available to fulfil the role will play a big part in this. Some members set aside time when they are available to meet their residents (sometimes known as holding a surgery), others do so by attending meetings and events in the local community. There is also a need to manage the queries and concerns that local residents raise through you – but Council staff can provide you with support in managing your local role.

As one of 70 elected members of the county council, you would not only responsible for representing around 9,000 residents in your division, but also the 800 000+ people who live in West Sussex. The county council provides or secures a range of public services for residents that can be considered to be ‘strategic’ in scope. These include: the provision of adults’ and children’s social care, planning and supporting school provision, managing the road network and waste disposal and running the Fire and Rescue Service. This means county councillors are called upon to consider the interests of residents and communities beyond their immediate area.

What meetings are West Sussex County Councillors expected to attend?

The minimum attendance of councillors is likely to be at the Full Council and your County local Committee. You may also be appointed to other committees, working groups or outside bodies.  The majority of Council meetings are held during the day but the County local Committees occur in the evening.

All members are expected to attend:

County Council meetings – there are between five to six of these a year (sometimes known as “Full Council” meetings), which all members should attend. These all take place in Chichester starting at 10.30am and lasting the best part of the day (usually finishing between 3pm – 4.30pm in the afternoon).

In addition, all members are encouraged to attend training, information and briefing sessions held approximately once per month, called Member Days.

At the current time member meetings are taking place virtually although the situation is under constant review.  It is possible that virtual member participation in meetings will continue in some capacity.

Calendar of meetings

Watch our meetings via the Council’s webcasting facility.

I don’t have any experience - can I still stand in West Sussex?

Absolutely! You may be surprised at how much relevant experience you have to offer. For example, anyone who is a parent or carer, or provides support to elderly family or friends has experience to draw on, as well as those with a business or public sector background. A full induction and training programme is provided and mentoring with an existing member can be arranged either for those thinking of standing for election or once elected.

Please note that all members are required to have a DBS check carried out (previously known as CRB check).

What additional roles are there at West Sussex?

Over and above representing your community, dealing with casework and attending county council meetings, there are a number of roles you might be invited to take on, such as being a member of a committee or working group.

The roles available on committees are proportionate to the political make-up of the County Council following the election. In addition to these there are a number of informal member meetings which members are encouraged to participate in virtually using the IT equipment provided.

For more of an insight into the time commitment required for the role we can put you in touch with one of our existing County Councillors or can share samples of diaries for members with specific roles.

Does West Sussex pay councillors?

Members are entitled to receive an annual allowance payable monthly and can claim travel and other expenses including covering the cost of caring responsibilities.

Member allowance scheme  

What support will I receive from West Sussex?

A full induction and training programme is provided (available from Democratic Services on request).

All members are assigned an officer “buddy” to answer questions and guide them through the first few months in the role. Peer to peer support may be available for those elected to represent a political group.

All members are provided with and are expected to use a laptop so they can access their county council emails and other IT systems like our intranet site for members called the Members’ Information Network (the Mine) and an online telephone system.

Although hard copy papers can be sent out for formal meetings the council invites members to refer to meeting papers on-line.

Additional support is available for any member with mobility issues or disabilities including hidden disabilities such as dyslexia. Support for members’ health, wellbeing and safety is also available. This includes access to an independent support service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to deal with any personal or professional problem.

Support available when becoming a West Sussex County Councillor

When you become a County Councillor, you will be an office holder with major responsibilities and great opportunities.  The County Council is committed to providing a range of support to you to enable you to fulfil the member role. This includes seeking to remove potential barriers.

Induction and Development

You will receive a comprehensive induction to help you understand your role, the range of services provided by the County Council and personal skills to help you to be effective in your role.

Mentoring is available within political groups.

The County Council has a Member Development Strategy and is committed to signing up to the ‘Member Development Charter’ which demonstrates the Council’s commitment to giving members continuing development support.  This can be through further development sessions on the services provided by the Council or considering significant changes to these services, personal skills training and the potential to attend external conferences and courses connected with the roles you hold on the Council.


West Sussex County Council is an inclusive organisation and would like its county councillors to reflect the diverse nature of the residents it represents as much as possible.  It wishes to encourage people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and experience to consider standing for election. A guide to Councillors with a disability is available on request (contact details below).

Member support

  • The Council has a range of support available to help members in a variety of circumstances and from a wide range of backgrounds: 
  • Meeting arrangements set out, with mostly daytime meetings to leave most evenings free.
  • You will receive a basic allowance to recompense you for the time and effort that you put into being a member. Additional special responsibility allowances are paid to members in senior roles. Please refer to Member Allowance scheme for up to date figures.
  • You can claim travel expenses for meetings you attend at County Hall and other meeting venues away from your local area, as well as site visits organised by the Council and parish council meetings in your area.
  • Carer’s allowance is available for care of children or other family members while you are on County Council business.
  • A laptop giving access to a wide range of council information and a secure email address for correspondence.
  • Reasonable adjustments can be made to support members with disabilities. Examples include an infrared hearing device that can be used in any meeting room, specially adapted IT, papers produced to meet accessibility standards, the ability to use a taxi if a member is not able to drive a car or use public transport.
  • Code of conduct to promote high standards of conduct
  • Social media guidance
  • Parental leave policy
  • Special leave policy


Other support can be made available.


Taking Time off from Work

It is a legal requirement that an employer should allow employees ‘reasonable time’ for volunteering for public service.  The GOV.UK website gives advice.  (good practice example employers will be listed here).

Personal Safety

The Local Government Association (LGA) has useful guides on:

  • Lone working
  • Anti-harassment and safety

Further Information

Please speak to a member of staff in Democratic Services to explore what support might help you or for further information: Contact: Charles Gauntlett, Senior Advisor on 033 022 22524.



How do I find out which electoral ward I live in?

Please search by postcode for your electoral division and current county councillor. To find out more about electoral boundaries Electoral division boundaries - West Sussex County Council.


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 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 the council on the West Sussex elections page or the contacts page below.
  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 in the ‘Eligibility’ section above that you are eligible 
  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 by a certain deadline. Please see the ‘Useful contacts’ below.
  13. Contact the Electoral Services team at the 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 the signature of two registered electors from the ward you wish to stand in. They must be of voting age, and must appear on the local government electoral register that is in force on the 25th working day before the election.
  15. Build your local profile, reputation and campaign. Find out more about campaigning from the Local Government Association’s Independents, your political party, or the Electoral Commission.

Future West Sussex Council events will be listed here.

Useful contacts

Be a Councillor Email: [email protected]

West Sussex County Council contacts

Helen Kenny
Head of Democratic Services
0330 222 2532
[email protected]

Charles Gauntlett
Senior Adviser – Council & Member Support
0330 222 2524
[email protected].uk


District Councils Elections Teams

Adur & Worthing Councils
01903 221014
[email protected]

Arun District Council
01903 737610
[email protected]

Chichester District Council
01243 534592
[email protected]

Crawley Borough Council
01293 438346
[email protected]

Horsham District Council
01403 215280
[email protected]

Mid Sussex District Council
01444 477222
[email protected]

Electoral Commission
0333 1031928
[email protected]


Common questions about being a councillor

Frequently asked questions about being a councillor