Headlines: June 26th, 2007



A new report from MPs is calling on the Government to support a high profile national campaign to boost the recruitment of councillors. An all-party Parliamentary Group inquiry into the role of a councillor has found that one barrier stopping people becoming councillors is a lack of awareness about the role and the way local government operates.

Their report recommends that public funding should be made available to support the recruitment of councillors. At the same time the report suggests councillors themselves could do more at a local level to communicate what they do and to promote the importance of their democratic role. The group believes there is a need for action by political parties as well as the Government. “We believe that improving understanding of local government and the role of councillors is fundamental to the health of local democracy, and to attracting more people to stand for election as councillors,” the report says.

The inquiry, chaired by MP Alison Seabeck, was advised by the Local Government Information Unit and included Baroness Scott, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Best as well as the MPs Clive Betts, Andrew Gwynne, Chris Mole and Paul Rowan. Alison Seabeck said that for too long local government had hidden its light under a bushel. “The APPG inquiry has highlighted just how important, exciting and challenging the role of a local councillor can be. It is clear from the evidence that existing and future councillors need better support and training but that there is also lot of good practice out there which should be developed,” she said.

The report also recommends that councils should give councillors funding for specific training and development courses to improve the way they engage with local people and the media, and to improve their understanding of their own council’s work. The panel is also calling for the creation of national standards of remuneration for councillors to take account of different roles and tiers of local government and to make the post of councillor more appealing to a wider range of people as well as creating a sense of professionalism in the role.