The De Montfort University Local Governance Research Unit and The MJ Councillor Commission has recently published its interim findings. The commission is supported by NALC.
The commission has been travelling the country to explore with councillors (including parish and town councillors) their role, work, motivations and frustrations and what they need to be able to strengthen their office and what it can achieve.
So far, 22 roundtables discussions have been held – involving 240 councillors – and the commission has received more than 150 written submissions of evidence. Councillors have also been engaging with a Twitter chat using #CllrCommission.
The commission is aiming to provide policy makers with a better understanding of the office of councillor and the contribution councillors make to their communities, as well as seeking to further public and policy debate and understanding about local government and local democracy.
A brief flavour of the commission’s initial findings shows, among other things:
The need for councillors to engage with bodies outside the and the need to hold these to account and shape their policies and decisions is a growing strategic and day-to-day aspect of councillors’ focus.
Greater access to information from both their councils and other organisations and better access to research and administrative support would also enable councillors to have an enhanced role in policy making.
Devolution should mean just that and councillors argue central government should interfere less in local political and policy decisions.
The public, media and government just do not understand what councillors can and cannot do.
And, while councillors themselves see the need for more young people to stand for office, the demands and time constraints of the work make it unlikely younger people will be attracted to becoming councillors in any great numbers.
The commission is taking evidence until 31 December and responses to the interim report are welcomed. A final report will be produced early in 2017.