Immediately after the election – guidance for councillors

Once the votes have been counted, it is time for the decision-making to begin. Whether you find yourself with a change in political leadership, change of control, no overall control or a minority administration we hope the advice below will be able to help and provide some practical tips and guidance.

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  • Straight after the election you will have many things to consider. Take some time with your chief executive to understand any timelines and expectations for e.g. preparation for the AGM, governance requirements, understanding roles and responsibilities, and so on.
  • Ask the LGA for some peer support: ask for some support from your political group office. They will be able to talk things through with you and connect you with a peer who has been in a similar situation.
  • Think about the key positions: the cabinet places or committee chairs and the chairs of other committees such as overview and scrutiny. Listen to the other parties’ requests and talk to your own senior councillors and administration partners if necessary, about how to distribute any opportunities.
  • Keep your councillors briefed: you may want to bring councillors from your own group together, as their opinions will be important in the final decision. Some councillors will want to begin preparing for possible cabinet or executive roles.

No overall control / Minority administration

  • Consider all the options: if you find yourself in a situation with no overall control then you might need to take some time to consider what your options are - these can include forming a minority administration, a formal coalition with another par ty or parties, informal agreements on an issue basis or other arrangements.
  • Be secure in your own position: canvass support for your role as group leader. When a council changes political leadership, it can be an uncertain time for all the parties. Ensuring you have the backing of your councillors will mean you are negotiating from a strong position.
  • Do not assume the most likely scenario is inevitable: again, expect the unexpected. Even if you are one of the smaller political groups in the council, you could end up being par t of the administration.
  • Get to know the priorities of the other parties: you need to know where you agree, where you can agree to disagree, and where you disagree strongly.
  • Talk to the other parties: work out who you can work with. Have meetings and/or talk to other group leaders. You may choose to involve other senior councillors from your political group in some of these meetings. Put your common themes, ideas and ambitions on the table and work from there. If you do not want to work with anyone else, tell the other groups.
  • Ask your chief executive for advice and information: during the discussion stage, your chief executive will become as involved as you want them to be. They, and other officers, can help with practical measures such as arranging meeting rooms, providing information, and facilitating discussions, and of course can offer impartial and confidential advice.
  • Do not feel rushed into a decision: do not close down your options too early or make speedy decisions that you may regret later. Take your time over the important decisions if that feels right but bear in mind that officers and councillors will be keen to get on with council business as soon as possible. 
  • Work out the detail: as you move towards an agreement, begin to work out the details, for example what the governance arrangements will be, how the groups in the administration will share information and make decisions, how often you will meet and so on.