Encouraging people with disabilities to become councillors

The LGA is pleased to announce the launch of a new programme to encourage more disabled people to become Councillors. This supplements our wider Be a Councillor programme working with councils, councillors and political parties to support more people from all walks of life to become Councillors.

This new programme will also include the opportunity for a number of disabled people interested in becoming councillors to have tailored mentoring and support. If you would like to know more about this programme please contact virginia.ponton@local.gov.uk

Other useful information

  1. Access guidance for disabled people who wish to become councillors
    Make a difference. Be a councillor. A guide for disabled people (PDF, 12 pages 419KB)
    If you would like a hard copy, a copy in Braille, larger print or audio please do get in touch. 
  2. Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund 
    The Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund was set up as part of the Government's Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Strategy. It aims to provide additional support to tackle particular obstacles faced by disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials. It includes an online training package and paid internships offered to disabled candidates on the Speaker's Parliamentary Placement Scheme. 
    Making it easier for disabled people to stand for election - gov.uk website.

Stand for what you believe in. Be a councillor.

"Councillors need to reflect the communities they serve, empathise with local residents and communicate effectively with them. Only by ensuring there is a good range of councillors can we hope to do this. It is vital that political parties have a good stream of new, capable people coming through the ranks, to ensure that those who hold seats do not become complacent."

Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, Labour, Liverpool.

The ‘Be a councillor' campaign

Local government is only as vibrant, effective and relevant as the people elected to run it. We are encouraging councils, regional organisations and local parties to support the 'Be a councillor' campaign by running a local version tailored to your particular area.

In these challenging times, we need to have the best quality councillors for our local communities. To do that, we have to go out and actively find new talent. Running up to the May 2013 local elections, the 'Be a councillor' campaign aims to celebrate the important work councillors do and encourage new candidates to come forward.

Increasing the pool of talent from which councillors are elected is a key challenge for local government. We need councillors who are capable, vibrant, energetic and engaged, with a commitment to local people and a passion for change. Ensuring that councils better represent their electorate is not simply a case of encouraging more diversity in terms of age, gender or ethnicity, although that does play a part in making councils more relevant. The most important thing is raising the quality of all councillors. We need different kinds of people willing to stand for election so that parties get a choice of quality candidates.

It's all about finding people who are ordinary enough to be representative, but extraordinary enough to be representatives. It's about thinking more creatively about how to widen the talent pool. Ultimately, it's the electorate that decides who becomes a councillor, but we can all help to raise the quality of the candidates they choose from.

In this video (3 minutes, 13 seconds) Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell talks about the 'Be a Councillor' campaign. 

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Are you a councillor or recruiter?

The number of Britons who are members of the three main political parties is estimated to be fewer than 500,000. From this small proportion of the population is drawn most of the elected politicians who exercise democratic power.

We risk ignoring the greater potential of our communities if we confine our councillor candidate recruitment to local party members, activists, safe pairs of hands and ‘friends'. We need councils that truly represent the local population.

The talent-spotter's recruitment guide provides a toolkit for a more planned approach:

The X Factor: a talent-spotter's recruitment guide for local government elections (PDF, 15 pages, 352KB)

We are always keen to hear from places or local parties interested in exploring new ways to ‘talent spot' the leaders of tomorrow.

Additional material

We also have a national 'Be a councillor' website. If you decide to run your own campaign we can add details and case studies.

'Be a councillor' website

We have also produced a step-by-step guide to becoming a councillor, with useful contact names and numbers:

'Be a councillor' brochure (PDF, 12 pages, 1.4 MB large file)

Access guidance for disabled people who wish to become councillors

Make a difference. Be a councillor. A guide for disabled people (PDF, 12 pages 419KB)

Further information

For more information or if you would like to get involved in the programme:
Email: virginia.ponton@local.gov.uk