Report by John Crossling
Parish Councils across the Country struggle to find new Councillors. This year is election year for the vast majority of Parish Councils in the WALC area and the County Committee felt it was right that the Association should try to help encourage people to stand as councillors locally.
We planned six events spread geographically across our area. We approached all the District and Borough Councils for their support and they freely provided venues at their council houses together with refreshments. They also promoted the events locally.
We also approached the County Council and they used their marketing team to promote the programme events though a variety of channels including social media.
WALC produced local posters and sent them to our members asking them to include them on their websites and noticeboards.
A consistent programme was devised consisting of the County Officer presenting on who could be a Councillor and the rules and expectations once you have become one. A local Clerk spoke on the internal workings of a council and the role of the Clerk. The Chair of WALC spoke on why she became a Councillor and a local councillor spoke on what they get from the role and how they balance their personal life against the demands of the position. A set of hand outs were provided including “All About Local Councils” and “It Takes All Sorts”.
Those who still wished to become a councillor – which was the vast majority were then given further handouts; the “Guidance For Candidates” off the Electoral Commission website and a full nomination pack for them to complete before the deadline to stand.
Over the six events we spoke to 41 prospective councillors who all said they learned a lot; enjoyed the session and thought it was very worthwhile. We took email addresses and were given permission to contact them after the elections to find out how many became Parish Councillors.