Reality check

You are one councillor and you’re probably used to working on your own in your ward. There is only so much that you can do as one person. This section focuses on the reality of being a councillor and articluates some of the challenges you are likely to face in making localism a reality.

The research flags up lots of ideas about the way systems, structures and processes could change to encourage more authentic participation from communites – we’ll be adding this to the blog in the future. However, it’s worth acknowledging that you are likely to be carrying out your role within contexts (council, political and community) that are less than perfect and that you are likely to have concerns about your confidence to take on new roles and do things differently.

Council challenges

  • relations with officers
  • cabinet and scrutiny structure
  • reduced scrutiny and accountability
  • silo working at departmental level
  • reluctance to engage with constituents directly about issues and resolving conflicts
  • procurement processes

Political challenges

  • elections
  • political organisation; party hierarchy and toeing the party line
  • lack of opportunity for proper debate and dialogue

Community challenges

  • intimidating groups who pursue their own agendas – they intimidate both you and residents!
  • groups at war with each other
  • unaccountable groups or organisations
  • unorganised or disorganised community groups
  • no coherent community infrastructure

How can you create dialogue with those who are critical?
How can you support other people to have dialogue?

Personal challenges

  • confidence
  • skills
  • awareness and knowledge

What do you feel confident about?
What do you need support to do?

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