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Working with your local authority

Working with your local authority

Why they are worth targeting

You should include building relationships with and seeking to influence your local authorities in your campaigning, since they are responsible for:

  • Creating policy such as on planning and transport
  • Ensuring that important Government policies are implemented at a local level
  • Overseeing public services
  • Influencing the wider policy process

Who they are and how they work

In all local authorities, councillors are the elected representatives who are responsible for making policy. Officers are the full-time paid staff responsible to councillors. They provide technical advice and guidance on behalf of a number of council departments.

Ways to influence your councillor

  • Familiarity. The better you know your local authority councillors, officers, procedures and policies, the easier it will be for you to make an impact
  • Targeting. Identifying and developing a dialogue with the right people within your local authority will lead to more effective campaigning
  • Timing. Seek meetings and make representations as early as possible in the process to nip unwelcome development proposals in the bud and to ensure that you are consulted on future developments

Checklist for working with your local authority

  • Involve councillors in campaigns
  • Arrange to meet key councillors regularly, at least annually, send them copies of important media releases and invite them to speak at public meetings
  • Whenever you meet with your local authority ennsure you bring along all the information you need to present your case

Contact information for councillors

Gather the following useful information:

  • Name, party and ward for all councillors in the district/county/unitary authorities
  • Address, telephone, fax and email details
  • Name and contact details of assistants to cabinet members and party groups
  • Dates, times and venues of surgeries

If you don't already know the contact details for your councillors and officers, try the council information desk and local libraries. Most local authorities now have a website which will contain useful information. The web address will be usually something like this :

www.nameofdistrict/county/unitaryauthority.gov.uk

Background information on councillors

It is very handy to know the following:

  • Occupational background
  • Policy and ward interests
  • Names and telephone numbers of key officers
  • Dates and venues of relevant committee meetings
  • Membership of relevant committees/boards

Local authority policy documents

If you are going to be keeping an eye on planning applications, you should consider getting copies of the following, because you will want to refer to them when assessing planning applications.

  • Neighbourhood Plans
  • The Local Plan for your area
  • Local Transport Plan
  • Environmental and nature conservation policies/statements
  • Minerals and waste policy documents
  • Village Design Statements, Sustainable Community Strategies

You can get them from local authorities or read them in your local library.