There’s a big opportunity to change what Swanage Town Council does and how it does it, as all 12 seats on the council are up for election in May 2024.
Nearly everyone who lives in the area is allowed to stand as a candidate, so the council is holding a drop in session for anyone who wants to find out more about becoming a Swanage town councillor.
Swanage town councillors and officials at a recent council meeting in the council chamber
All 12 seats are up for grabs on Thursday 2nd May 2024
The event for prospective town councillors is being held between 6 pm and 8 pm on Monday 20th November 2023 at Swanage Town Hall in the High Street.
Hosted by the current mayor of Swanage, councillor Tina Foster and former mayor, councillor Avril Harris, there will also be council officers present who can talk more about the role of a councillor.
Swanage town mayor Tina Foster (right) with councillor Chris Tomes at Beach Gardens
“Chance to make a real contribution”
Swanage town mayor Tina Foster said:
“I’d really urge people to come along and find out more. It can be very rewarding being a councillor – having the chance to make a real contribution to your community.
“You get to see behind the scenes and if you have a passion for a certain subject like the environment, tourism or transport, you can join the working groups that lead to council decisions and new policies.
“There’s also opportunities to learn about the council finances, where the money comes from and how it can be spent, which I’ve found genuinely interesting.
“Before becoming a Swanage town councillor I was a parish councillor in Studland, as well as the parish clerk for a while, which gave me a good understanding of how local government works.
“Someone who has previous experience of committees or working within organisations may be attracted to this sort of role, but equally a prospective councillor doesn’t have to have any particular skills, perhaps just the desire to make a difference.
“I look forward to welcoming anyone next Monday and having an informal chat.”
Swanage town councillors attend the 2023 Armistice Day service at the Swanage war memorial. Left to right: councillor Mike Bonfield, councillor Bill Trite, the mayor’s consort Leslie Parkinson, Swanage town mayor Tina Foster and depty mayor Chris Moreton
Councillor Avril Harris and former mayor Avril Harris (right) at Herston village hall community cafe
Role of a local councillor
The Local Government Association has drawn up a list of examples of what the role of a councillor can include:
- Talking to constituents by phone, email and letter, social media, home visits, drop-in sessions, street or community meetings, and local events
- Responding to queries and issues from local people, investigating concerns, helping with solutions (this is called casework)
- Keeping the community informed about local issues and events – for example through email, newsletters, blogs, social media and in person
- Reading council meeting agendas and reports, research and evidence to understand issues and participate in discussions and decisions
- Attending formal council meetings as well as meetings with local partners and organisations
- Working collaboratively with local people, voluntary and community organisations, police, health partners, and businesses to shape the future of the local area. Building strong relationships and encouraging people to get involved and share their views and ideas
- Some councillors have extra responsibilities, for example specific council projects, or positions in the cabinet, committees or regulation boards
Making a difference, councillor Debby Monkhouse (left) spearheaded the successful Save the Swanage Ambulance Car campaign
No political affiliation required
Currently there are 12 elected councillors on Swanage Town Council – two of them are Labour Party councillors and 10 are Conservative Party councillors.
However anyone wishing to stand, does not have to align themselves with a political party.
To be a Swanage town councillor you need to be:
- British or a citizen of the Commonwealth
- 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
Those who can’t stand include those who are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or anyone sentenced to prison for three months or more in the five year period before the date of the election.
- Swanage Town Council drop in event 6 pm to 8 pm on Monday 20th November 2023 at Swanage Town Hall in the High Street
- More on the Local Government Association about becoming a councillor