Last night, I joined Steve Hitchins and Laura Willoughby at Birmingham Council House for a training event all about encouraging local parties and council groups to recruit a new generation of councillors.
The session was called “Be a councillor” – and I hope each and every one of you reading these words has heard of it, not least because for the last month and the next one, they have been advertising on Lib Dem Voice in a beautiful Flash advert on our sidebar. The programme continues around the country, and you can find a full list of venues on ALDC’s website.
The event is targetted squarely at existing councillors and those people running local parties – something not immediately clear from the title of the training session. There is some value in attending if you yourself want to be a councillor, but the people who will gain most from this are those charged with recruiting the next group of people who will represent the Liberal Democrats on local authorities up and down the country.
It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking evening. Topics covered included the changing role of local government; the qualities needed in tomorrow’s elected members; and what local parties need to do to attract and hold onto quality people. The evening culminated in asking each of us there to write out a list of people we knew in our wards and constituencies who would make good councillors. Between us, we identified 184 people – many of whom do not yet know they are Liberal Democrats!
Perhaps the most useful thing I took away from the session is the need for local parties to be clear about just what they are asking of both existing councillors and new ones. Are your approval processes adequate? Do you have a job description saying what you expect from your councillors? And do you have a councillor contract? And on all of these things, ALDC can help.
Be a Councillor continues its UK tour (Laura Willoughby promised there would be gig tshirts soon) – the next date is April 20th in Eastbourne – but the full list of venues is here (pdf).