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Friday, 1 February 2013

Ever thought of becoming a Councillor?

I was asked to write a short piece for Ealing Council about elected councillors. Could you be one? You need an interest in your local community and a passion to get involved.

Becoming a councillor is an extension of what some people are already doing. For example, if they are already active in community work, a political party, trade union or school governing body. For others, it is a chance to ‘give something back’ to their community, because you have the opportunity to help shape local services and improve people’s lives.

Councillors represent the residents in their ward, as well as helping to set council policy, scrutinising its services and sitting on committees that make decisions on issues ranging from planning applications to licensing. In Ealing, a lot of councillors also hold down full-time jobs. The amount of time you spend on
your work will vary depending on the area you represent and any special duties you may take on. Councillors receive an allowance to recompense them for time and money spent on council business.

First of all, you have to have lived or worked in Ealing for at least a year and be aged 18 or over. You do not need any formal qualifications and, if elected, you will be given training and support. Candidates have to be a British citizen or from a member country of either the European Union or the Commonwealth.

Myself in the Town Hall office

Why did you choose to be a councillor?
I was annoyed that writing complaint letters to organisations often leads nowhere. I wanted to ensure that fewer mistakes happened; and that, if problems existed, then, by being proactive, I could
help to solve them and help residents and businesses with their issues.

What about the work-life balance?
Being a councillor can take up a lot of hours but most meetings are in the evening and do not require you to miss time from your day job. The diary for council meetings is agreed once a year so it is relatively easy to schedule in your work or family life around being a councillor.

What are the worst and best bits?
The best thing is getting a ‘thank you’ from residents who you have helped. At a recent meeting I chaired in Chiswick, a lady who used a disability scooter thanked the three councillors for getting a number of dropped kerbs installed. Sometimes fixing a small issue can mean so much to many residents.

What tips would you give to others who are interested?
You do not have to be aligned to a political party, but you could speak to the different parties in Ealing to see which ones are more suited to your political and community views. You could even follow politicians using Twitter! My twitter handle is @CllrGaryMalcolm

What do your friends and family think?
Some of my friends are, sadly, not interested in politics. But when I tell them that their council tax bills
and street sweeping are all done by their local council they realise that politics is important.

If you are interested in being a councillor of finding out more then please feel free to tweet or email me at

Visit Ealing Council's website to get more information at >

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