BE A COUNCILLOR: Why you should stand for Council


The Liberal Democrats have a strong and proud tradition in local government.

We pride ourselves on working hard “all year round, not just at election time.”

From parishes and small districts to core cities, Liberal Democrats run local authorities of all shapes and sizes in every part of the country.

If you care about the area that you live or work in and the issues facing local people, you could be a councillor.

The work of a councillor varies tremendously depending on the sort of council you are on, the nature of your ward or division, the balance of skills within your group and the sort of experience and knowledge you bring to the role.

Take a read and be inspired!

Winning at local government level can change everything for our party so get out there and have a crack.


There are two types of council candidates. Target ward candidates and paper candidates.

Target ward candidates are in wards we can win or be very competitive, they need to lead campaigns and fight hard all year to win.

Paper candidates (confusingly also called paperless candidates) are also vital. These are candidates who stand in wards we are extremely unlikely to win. They help us maintain our presence as a party and push on to future success. They do not need to run a campaign and ideally will also volunteer in target wards. For the Liberal Democrats to do well in elections we need thousands of paper candidates flying the flag for the Liberal Democrats.


All candidates must be ‘approved’ before they can put their name forward to stand for election. This process happens through your local party so get in touch with them (if you don’t know their details we might be able to help so drop an email to and let us know).

What you need to do –

Check that the law allows you to stand;
● Speak to your local party or ALDC about what is involved in standing;
Join ALDC to learn how to win or buy one of our books to help.

Most approval processes involve completing an application form and an interview. The panel should make a decision on whether a potential candidate should be approved as soon as possible after the meeting. ALDC has an approval and selection toolkit to help local parties understand the process and arrangements.  (Updated April 2020)


Vacancies and the selection process are usually advertised in members’ emails or newsletters. Selection of council candidates is done by a vote of party members in the area in which you wish to stand and normally include a hustings where members can ask questions. If you decide to stand in a competitive selection you will have to campaign for the votes amongst local members.

And once selected it’s all about getting your name out there and ensuring people are joining your campaign – knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and keeping in touch with local people.


Councillors are elected to represent their community, so they must either live or work in the area. Being an effective councillor requires both commitment and hard work.

Depending on the type of local authority, a council can be responsible for:

  • Education and lifelong learning
  • Waste collection and recycling
  • Roads and street lighting
  • Community safety and crime
  • Environment
  • Planning and regulation
  • Council Tax and spending
  • Transport

As a councillor, you will attend monthly Full Council and meetings of whichever committee(s) you’re on. A councillor’s responsibilities include:

  1. Representing the ward
  2. Developing and reviewing council policy
  3. Community leadership and engagement.

You will also need to spend time visiting constituents, dealing with letters, emails and phone calls from local residents giving them advice and helping to improve your local area.

Get in touch with ALDC

ALDC are on hand every working day, at the end of the phone, email or online, to help you be a better campaigner, candidate and councillor.

We exist to provide the resources, advice and training Liberal Democrat campaigners and councillors need. From target seat councillor to new starter we’ve got it covered.

We also have resources, which include 100s of searchable best practice templates. Our members also receive ideas and inspiration on a weekly basis to aid your campaigning on local and national issues.

Another great benefit is our members’ training, which includes discounted Kickstart attendance and free attendance at our regular webinars.

Contact us here or call 0161 302 7532 to find our more.


Alongside the candidates and diversity team at HQ we’ve produced leaflets that outline why you should stand for council and parliament!  Download the leaflets from the Local Government Association Lib Dem Group website 

We want more candidates at every level so we’re very happy to send Liberal Democrat local parties leaflets to help with a local event or give to people who would be great local councillors if only they’d stand. Just get in contact using the details above and we’ll get them out to you.

Don’t forget to tell us if you stand for election

Every year we ask candidates to tell us where they are standing for election – which council and ward.   We want to hear from people who are standing for the first time and long-standing councillors. You don’t need to be a member of ALDC to register your details.  We are here to help you win.

Please fill in your information HERE

Zöe Franklin says

Hi Manjit, great to hear that you're interested in standing as a Lib Dem candidate in the forthcoming elections in Sandwell. Your best next step is to get in touch with Sandwell Liberal Democrats via their website (, Twitter (@SandwellLibDems) or via Facebook ( to let them know you're interested and ask how you can get more involved.

Zöe Franklin says

That's fantastic that you're interested in standing for election. Can you advise by email to which local council area you live in and we can look to put you in touch with that local Lib Dem party so that you can work out next steps.

Janet Whitehouse says

Will there be copies of the 'Why you should stand as a councillor' at the East of England regional conference on Saturday?

Rebecca Jones says

Hi Janet, I'm making enquiries but I can post you some if that is easier.
Best wishes,
Rebecca Jones
Marketing and Membership, ALDC

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