Headlines: March 8th, 2007



A group of MPs and peers have begun an inquiry into the future role of local councillors, which they hope will contribute to the current debate about the work of frontline members and the recruitment of councillors. The group will be staging face-to-face sessions with elected members and others as well as taking written evidence.

The inquiry is being carried out by a panel from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government who will be advised by the Local Government Information Unit. The panel is being led by Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Devonport, who also chairs the All-Party group. She is joined by fellow MPs Clive Betts, Andrew Gwynne Chris Mole and Paul Rowen – all former councillors themselves – and by Lord Best, Lord Hanningfield and Baroness Scott.

They have asked for written evidence to be submitted before March 30th but are also planning to hold three roundtable discussions to tap into the opinions of councillors, researchers, think tanks and the media.

The inquiry has set itself four key questions to answer. It will look at what powers ward councillors need to be effective and to make a difference in the areas they present and what changes need to be made to give them those powers. Secondly it will consider what changes might need to be made to the activities that councillors carry out, again to maximise their effectiveness but also in response to social changes such as new forms of communication or local representation. The panel will also ask what support councils could and should provide to members and finally the Parliamentarians will consider ways to address public attitudes to make the councillor’s role more attractive and to encourage people to stand for election or remain as councillors.

The LGiU, which will be working with Connect Public Affairs as it advises the Inquiry, has a track record of promoting the role of councillors. Written submissions should be sent by e-mail to appg@lgiu.org.uk