NALC wants to encourage more people to stand and vote in local council elections. All local councils are made up of a number of councillors who meet regularly to make decisions on the work and direction of the council. As elected bodies, local councils are responsible to the people they represent - the local community. There are over 80,000 councillors in England; they are elected to represent their residents on the local council. Sometimes not enough people come forward to stand for election, in this case, a councillor can be elected unopposed or co-opted on to the council. To find out when your local council is due to hold its next election you can contact the council directly. The local authority that administers the election will also be able to provide this information. Depending on where you live this will be the district, unitary, metropolitan or London borough council.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Local councils are at the heart of the communities they serve. Residents can see the difference that local councils can make in a very clear way.
Through an extensive range of powers local councils provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including: allotments, bus shelters, car parks, open spaces, transport schemes, safety and crime reduction, events, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, street cleaning, older persons and youth projects.
As the most local level of democracy for the communities they serve it is vital that local councils do all that they can to encourage contested elections. It should not need saying, but democratically elected and accountable political representation is not an optional extra for any level of government, it is essential. Councils should be doing all they can to encourage people to know more about the work of councils and councillors so that they can make an informed decision about whether to stand.
Of course, there may be times when it simply is not possible to find enough people to come forward, but people should be encouraged. Not only do our local communities deserve the right to vote for those who represent them, but also it affects how the all local councils are perceived if we wish to be taken seriously as a tier of government. There is a pressing need for the makeup of councillors to better reflect the communities they serve. The only way this will improve is if we all raise the profile of the role and talk to local people and encourage them to stand. If you would like more information on this to get in touch with NALC or your county association.
SUPPORTING LOCAL COUNCILS
Local Councils have access to support and advice from NALC or your county association. This includes legal topic notes and briefings that can be viewed in the members' area, as well as advice and training from your local county association.