Guildford Borough 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 that Guildford is the most desirable place to live, work and visit in South East England? A centre for education, healthcare, innovative cutting-edge businesses, high quality retail and wellbeing. A county town set in a vibrant rural environment, which balances the needs of urban and rural communities alike. Known for our outstanding urban planning and design, and with infrastructure that will properly cope with our needs. Whatever needs changing in your local area, you could be the person to change it by becoming a councillor.
Decisions made by councillors affect the lives of everyone in the area in countless ways. Representing a population of over 143,000 across the Borough, understanding the issues and concerns they face and taking action are the most important tasks that any councillor undertakes.
Local councillors are the elected representatives of Guildford Borough 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 Guildford, 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.
The next borough council elections will be held on Thursday 4 May 2023.
Being a councillor in Guildford
- About Guildford Borough Council
Guildford Borough Council is made up of 48 councillors who are elected every four years. Following a recent boundary review, they will represent the 21 new wards in the borough. The number of councillors for each ward depends upon the size of the electorate.
- Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils’ Collaboration Programme
Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils are working collaboratively together. Both councils remain entirely separate, retaining their own constitutions, councillors and democratic processes. The councils currently share a single management team responsible for the operational delivery of services for both authorities. The main aim is to cut costs and help protect local services for residents.
- How do I become a councillor in Guildford?
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.
In order to stand at the elections, you must first get a set of nomination papers from Electoral Services at Guildford Borough Council, which will explain the nomination process. These packs are available nearer the election date. To find out more, please contact Guildford’s Electoral Services team: email@example.com or telephone 01483 444119.
- Does Guildford Borough Council 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 Guildford and in connection with council business. Each council sets its own rate for councillors’ allowances.
Other councillors with ‘special responsibilities’ such as being a member of the Executive or a committee chairman, receives a Special Responsibility Allowance in addition to the Basic Allowance.
Any councillor who has children or dependants who would otherwise need to be cared for whilst the councillor attends meetings may claim a Dependants Carers’ Allowance to cover any costs.
- What support will I receive from Guildford Borough Council?
Guildford Borough Council is committed to providing councillors with advice and support for all aspects of their role. After an election, all new councillors are encouraged to attend a comprehensive induction programme to enable them to meet the key people who will support them in their role and attend events to familiarise them with the work of the council, the expectations of councillors and ways in which they can carry out key tasks.
In the first few weeks, experienced councillors will be available to guide you in getting to know the workings of the borough council and your role within it. Committee Services will be your point of contact to signpost you round the council for the first couple of months. Councillors are also provided with ongoing learning and development support to broaden their knowledge, skills and confidence.
Laptops will be issued at the reception day for newly elected councillors, which will enable you to remotely and securely access the Council’s systems, email, calendar, contact information as well as Council and Committee papers.
All councillors are expected to provide at their own expense, a private ADSL broadband connection and hardware, including a printer and consumables. ICT staff can assist and advise councillors but will not be able to place orders on their behalf.
Mobile phones are issued to all councillors that sit on the Executive, Committee Chairmen, and the Leaders of the Political Groups.
- What support is available from Guildford Borough Council for disabled councillors?
All meeting rooms are accessible. An audio loop system is available in council chamber for people with a hearing impairment. Councillors are encouraged to contact Democratic Services following their election to discuss their personal needs so that reasonable adjustments can be made.
- How can I find out about training and development at Guildford Borough Council?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
- Electoral ward maps for Guildford Borough 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 team: email@example.com or telephone 01483 444126.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 political 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.
- Are subject to any relevant notification requirements, or a relevant order, in respect of a sexual offence.
- 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.
- The next local government elections in Guildford are on Thursday 4 May 2023.
- Make sure you are registered on the electoral roll with Guildford Borough Council.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hear from real councillors about what it’s like being a councillor and their tips and inspiration
- Get in touch with a councillor to find out more with an informal chat (or ask us to help)
- Watch the Be a Councillor film
- Use our Be a Councillor worksheets to see how you would handle some real situations as a councillor
- Explore, research and keep up to date about your local area, different communities, services, issues and ideas.
- Attend council meetings and local events to find out more about local government and your community.
- 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.
- Contact the Electoral Services team at Guildford Borough Council to get the necessary paperwork, find out the deadlines, and see what help they can give to submit your papers.
- You will need to get the signature of ten 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.
- 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.
- Key dates
Council meetings are usually held in the evening starting at 7pm but can occasionally occur during the day.
In the run up to the election, we will update this page with key dates for new councillors to be aware of.
- Useful contacts
Be a Councillor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guildford Borough Council
Democratic Services and Elections Manager
Tel: 01483 444102
Political Group office contacts
2 Pond Cottages
Tel: 01483 300330
Guildford Liberal Democrats
The Old Mission Hall,
53A Woking Road, Guildford
Tel: 01483 610581 (landline)
Facebook: Guildford Liberal Democrats
Guildford Greenbelt Group
Guildford, GU3 1DE
Tel: 07785 392952
9b Martyr Road
Tel: 01483 511272
Guildford Green Party
15 Hall Close,
Godalming, GU7 3PW
Tel: 07972 701241
Residents 4 Guildford and Villages
The Peace Party – Non-Violence, Justice, Environment
Mr John Morris
39 Sheepfold Road,
Tel: 07720 965577
- Common questions about being a councillor
Hear from Guildford Borough councillors
Councillor Paul Spooner
- View Councillor Spooner's video transcript
Councillor Spooner: I am Councillor Paul Spooner, and I am responsible for the ward of Ash South and Tongham in the west of the borough. I know so much about local government now that I didn’t know.
When I became a parish and then a borough councillor. Primarily I was asked by the Parish Chairman of Ash Parish Council. I think that he got fed up of me asking the Parish questions and said, well stand then Paul.
And after several discussions, I did indeed. Well, it really depends on what tier.
We have parish councillors; we have borough councillors and of course we have county councillors. Also depends on where you sit within the Council, so if you are the leader of the Council or on the Executive, then you are running effectively the Council across the borough and therefore your workload is high.
It was, to say, the least controversial, but my highlight is adopting the local plan and bringing the local plan part one through the Council in April 2019. I think most surprising is the, on the plus side, is the very positive feeling and feedback you get when you help local residents, particularly within your ward.
On the negative side, surprised by the abuse that comes our way but it is primarily abuse at Executive level or to the leader. Very few back benchers fortunately have that. I certainly would recommend that any new councillors coming in investigated, studied for themselves, rather than just relying on the group leader or the leader of the leading party in the Council.
I think it’s very important to take time and understand any new policies.
Councillor Maddy Redpath
- View Councillor Redpath's video transcript
Councillor Maddy Redpath: Hi I’m Cllr Maddy Redpath and I represent Holy Trinity Ward.
So I became a Cllr because I’ve lived in Guildford my whole life and I really wanted to give back to the community that raised me.
I also wanted to see more people in Guildford Borough Council who are of my demographic, young and female and represented my views.
Being a Cllr the key skills you need are the ability to listen and understand what the issues are.
I’ve found that the only skills you need are your own life skills and some knowledge about Guildford.
Something that really surprised me about becoming a Cllr was how quickly you pick everything up.
Meetings aren’t as complicated as they seem to be, and you can really get to grips with who the officers are quite quickly.
The biggest achievements I’ve felt since being elected is introducing Car Free Day, this wasn’t a solo effort it was a huge group effort, but I think introducing that has really brought new life to the town centre.
It's shown people what pedestrianisation can be achieved in the town centre and encouraged people to walk and cycle instead of drive.
One thing that’s really important when becoming a Cllr is to ring fence time for yourself, your friends and your family so that you still have a social life and you can still go out and enjoy yourself.
Councillor Masuk Miah
- View Councillor Miah's video transcript
Councillor Masuk Miah: Hi, I’m Councillor Masuk Miah, elected representative for Stoughton ward.
I’ve been inspired by local residents and my colleagues and friends, to come forward and stand in the local election as a councillor candidate.
I never thought of it until some of my colleagues, local party people and some of the residents said, “yeah come along Masuk, you’ll be great”.
I’ve seen the changes I can bring and I’ve also, some of the mentors I have who supported me and I thought it’s time probably because my children have grown up also and maybe this is the right time to come forward and stand for my local ward and make a change.
And I saw at the same time there was a gap in the local representative that I could come forward and make a change.
Problems people face and this problem, solving the problem gives me an experience in my life also.
And I bring home and talk to my children and my family, and this is what I'm doing, I'm achieving and my family are so proud of me.
I'm so happy that I'm doing things that I've never done before.
I mean, as a resident and member of the public I've never done this.
Being a councillor I've come across meeting so many different people, different places I've been and also working with charity work
I mean I've always been a people's person, I've worked with a lot of charities and this is it, this is where I come across
and being a councillor and the charity work together combined, I can take it foward and it makes me so proud in my heart.
Have a word with your family, your friends.
Councillor Dennis Booth
- View Councillor Booth's video transcript
Councillor Booth: I’m Councillor Dennis Booth, I’m also the Mayor of Guildford and I represent Christchurch ward.
I had been on a long holiday on the other side of the world, and I came back to lots of messages, asking me and urging me to stand for election in the forthcoming election.
I hadn’t ever considered being a councillor, but I had always been involved in local issues.
Don’t ever be surprised at what the residents want you to do and most important of all, don’t make a promise you can’t keep.
You can be involved in lots, or a small number of committees, and you have to remember that the public can repeatedly view what you have said so it is important that you are a fine representative for the community.
The variety of complaints you receive from residents, some of them are very interesting, but often, you are a catalyst to enable things to get done.
Well of course it’s becoming the Mayor of Guildford, I had never envisaged being the Mayor of Guildford. and in fact I had no idea on how one became the Mayor of Guildford.
But it’s certainly been a fun and exciting time.
Councillor Deborah Seabrook
- View Councillor Seabrook's video transcript
Councillor Seabrook: Hi I'm Deborah Seabrook
I'm one of the ward councillors for Merrow, which is on the urban edge to the east of Guildford.
I was recently retired and I wanted to know if I could some how use my work experience, my life experience and the skills I had aquired along the way, to work or do something in the community.
Also one party had dominated local politics for a long time and I felt it was time there was a little bit of a shake up with some constructive opposition.
Being a councillor means working with officers and other councillors to try and acheive things for the residents.
It can be quite small things, but they're big to the individual. Like sorting out repairs to a council house.
Or, it can be something big and strategic, like what we are going to do about regenerating the town centre, or Planning.
To be honest, I was expecting to be a back bencher and not in a position of leadership. But I am now vice chair of the corporate governance and standards and I chair a task group.
Initially that seemed a bit daunting but the support I've had from councillors and officers, the training I've been given and my previous experience, has stood me in good stead.
And I do, what I really hope, is a good job. Well, there have been lots but I suppose one was the first time I realised that really, we could make a difference.
A few months after we were elected the Executive made a decision about Walnut Bridge, that quite a few councillors weren't very happy about.
And so I led a call in, which meant that the decision had to be reassessed and reconsidered.
And this was the first time such a decision had been challenged since 2012.
So, yes, it was quite something to be leading that.
It didn't actually change the decision in the end, but it did mean that the Executive realised that they had to give full reasons and accounts for their decisions.
Well, I've got two that I would like to share.
First of all, don't be put off by canvassing. I was absolutely terrified to begin with but in fact I grew to love it. You get to meet so many interesting people.
My second tip is that once you're elected, invest time in getting to know the key officers in the organisation.
It really will stand you in good stead.
You don't need a particular agenda, just meet up for a coffee.
And then building that relationship makes it so much easier when you need to ask them for help later.