On behalf of the LGA, I offer you my warmest congratulations on becoming a councillor. Taking office is one of the most important civic duties anyone can perform. Elected members hold a unique position and have the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. However, you have entered local government at a time of unprecedented challenge and change and at times you will face tremendously difficult decisions as demand for services increases and funding from central government falls. This guide offers practical advice on being a councillor and sets out the range of services the LGA has to help you in your role. The LGA’s 415 member authorities, covering almost every part of England and Wales, represent over than 50 million people and spend over £90 billion a year on local services. They include county councils, district councils, metropolitan councils, English and Welsh unitary councils and London boroughs, along with fire and rescue authorities, national park authorities and town councils. The LGA is politically-led and cross-party, and works by consensus with and on behalf of councils to give local government a strong, credible voice nationally. We lobby and campaign in Westminster and Brussels on behalf of councils in England and Wales. Local government is trusted by residents over national government, and we firmly believe that councils and councillors are best placed to respond to the challenges, deliver excellent public services and lead communities to a secure future. As a councillor you will be at the forefront of these debates and I hope you find it an exciting and positive place to be.