21 June 2012
Cllr Marianne Overton is Leader of the LGA's Independent Group, an LGA Vice-Chairman, and a member of Lincolnshire County and North Kesteven District Councils.
An army may march on its stomach, but councils often succeed or fail on the quality of their councillors' work.
If our democracy is to succeed, we need elected representatives who care about their communities and are prepared to work to fulfil the needs and aspirations of local people.
Many people contribute greatly to their communities, but some are also elected to help ensure that the shared resources held in local government are also effective in bringing the improvements that people want. Making good use of wider skills and understanding leads to better decisions.
To do that, members of the public, councils and councillors have to go out and find new talent: people who are ordinary enough to be representative, but extraordinary enough to be representatives.
The LGA's ‘Be a councillor' campaign encourages councillors to take the role of ‘talent spotter'. The Councillor Census shows that over a quarter of councillors say that they became a councillor because they had been asked.
Recruitment of useful teams, some of whom get elected, means building up a reputation that you are doing a worthwhile job where someone could have a useful role to play. This is about engaging widely with all sectors of the community to encourage people to come forward, so that no-one is left unrepresented and valuable skills can be gained. Having a genuinely welcoming approach through web, media and direct communication is an approach that makes a difference.
Lastly, how about councillors giving a helping hand through the maze in preparation for elections and as a councillor? Who is encouraging and supporting people to become useful councillors? Is it you?
31 July 2012