What is a councillor?
Councillors are local champions who represent people and make decisions about their area. They are responsible for both identifying and solving local problems.
What do Councillors do?
A councillor's job is to represent and serve people in their area. Everyone in the country has one. They are elected to local government every four years where they make decisions on local issues - from crime and education to sports facilities and transport. Their job is to improve the community. In short, they are a bit like mini-MPs - they just work on a smaller, more local level.
Are councillors paid?
Yup - anything from about £4,000 to about £10,000 a year in expenses, depending where you live. Although officials don't call it a "wage", it does help keep you going.
How much time does it take?
Being a councillor is usually part-time, making sure people are represented by people like them, not professional politicians. As long as you're organised you can balance it around work and family commitments. For some councillors it can become a full time job if they choose to take on a special role in their council.
Can I be a Councillor and have a job?
Yes. By law your employer must let you have reasonable time off during working hours to complete your duties as a councillor.
Do I have to join a political party?
No - but it is usually easier to join one. Parties are always looking for candidates, so don't worry if you're not a member, you can always sign up. To find out more about the political parties, visit these sites.
If you don't want to join a party you can also stand as an independent. This means you stand on your own rather than as part of a political group. The plus side is that you are free to say exactly what you think as an individual, whereas party members have to balance their views with the other people in their party. The downside is that it can be harder to win elections without party resources, and it can also be harder to pass through policies in council once you're elected.
Will joining a political party mean extra work?
Yes, but you get help back. If you become a party member you will need to attend meetings with other local members to decide what your party should be fighting for, as well as figuring out ways to increase your membership and win future elections. You will also have to spend time helping other councillors in your party get elected. Councillors who aren't a member of any party - "independents" - don't have party meetings but they will still have to spend time and energy running their election campaigns.
When can I become a councillor?
The next local elections will be held in 2014, and they run every four years. Spaces might come up before then if an existing councillor needs to stand down.
If you think being a councillor sounds like something for you, check out our Shadowing Scheme.