Five ways to work with new local councillors at the grassroots

Hungry for better grassroots PR for your business or cause?

Then watch out after May 4, when local government elections could see a raft of new members elected to councils around the UK.

New councillors are energetic and zealous and want to make a real difference, quickly.  So seize the moment to size them up. 

If you have a cause to push or a business to support, and you need councillors to represent you, or influence officers or give you inside information, first, establish if your cause might chime with their vision for their community.

Councillors’ sympathies can usually be deduced from their public pronouncements, by attending public meetings or their ‘surgeries’ or from corresponding with them. 

Of course your councillor is supposed to fulfil promises made by their party’s manifesto, something that’s can be hard to achieve at a time of spending restraints.

Supposing your council is conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – to evaluate the likely socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts of a proposed project or development.

If you are lobbying for improved cycling facilities and awareness, then offer to brief the relevant councillors on the health benefits of active transport as part of the EIA.  Along with other elected officials like MPs, they need to listen to local views. 

Meanwhile, write to your local transport planning professionals and ask what strategies are in place for safe cycling routes, and how much funding is set aside for promotion.

Councillors are human and respond well to skilful communications.  Our 5 tips are:

  1. Respect their busy schedules.  Give them clear, concise information – just as you would brief your MP.
  2. Establish yourself as a reliable source of information
  3. In meetings with them, have an agenda and take notes or minutes
  4. Make your case in terms they understand (such as air quality)
  5. Be positive and professional (always well briefed) and politely persistent