The Councillor Commission

A Notwestminster 2016 workshop idea from Colin Copus

Notwestminster workshops ident

This workshop is for councillors, local government officers and anyone who has an interest in (and concern for) effective local democracy. Please come and share your experiences as part of the Councillor Commission, which is an independent review of the role and work of the councillor.

The aim of the Commission is to promote a positive debate about the changes needed to enhance councillors’ ability to govern our local communities.

Devolution, continued austerity, the need to pursue economic growth, the constant threat of structural upheaval, increasing pressures on public services, partnership working in complex networks, alongside central government’s continued political, policy and financial control of local government, all mean that the time is right to conduct a thorough exploration of how well placed councillors are to deal with the constant pressures they face.

Without a clear picture of the work of the councillor, we will continue to see under-informed policy decisions made about local government in general and the office of councillor in particular.


The terms of reference for the Commission are:
To explore and consider the roles, functions, tasks, responsibilities and powers of the councillor so as to assess their relevance and effectiveness in enabling councillors to sustain a viable system of local democracy, local leadership and local government.

It will examine the daily experiences of the councillor in their office as a politician and representative, to understand how far and to what effect councillors can shape their communities and the actions, activities and polices of private and public organisations operating within and beyond the boundaries of the council.

The commission will examine the quality of support councillors receive from their councils in conducting their activities and examine ways of strengthening and enhancing the role and status of the office of councillor.

The Commissioners are:

Colin Copus (Chair) – Professor of Local Politics, De Montfort University

Sir Merrick Cockell – Chairman, UK Municipal Bonds Agency plc and London Pensions Fund Authority

Jessica Crowe – London Borough of Sutton Executive Head of Customers, Commissioning and Governance

Heather Jameson – Editor, Municipal Journal

Jacqui Mckinley – Executive Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny

Lord Gary Porter – Chairman of the Local Government Association

Anthony Zacharzewski (Director, Democratic Society)

The work of the Commission is being supported by Clive Betts, MP, Chair of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. Although the Commission is independent of the committee it will submit its final report to the chair of the committee for consideration.

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Colin CopusColin Copus

Director of the Local Governance Research Unit
Department of Politics & Public Policy, De Montfort University

Colin Copus is a Professor of Local Politics. His academic interests are central-local relationships and the constitutional status of local government, localism, local party politics, local political leadership and the changing role of the councillor. Colin has worked closely with policy-makers and practitioners in central and local government and he was an advisor to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. He is working with the Communities and Local Government Committee on the role of the councillor. He has also served as a councillor on a London Borough council, a county and a district council and three parish councils.

Colin’s latest book is: “In Defence of Councillors”, published by Manchester University Press.

Design Challenges for Local DemocracyLocal Democracy Design Challenges

All our 2016 workshops have been created by our participants in response to our Design Challenges for Local Democracy, which were crowdsourced from our Notwestminster network. This workshop is inspired by….

Real Representation: The job of the local councillor is to represent their constituents yet their wards can include as many as 25,000 people, all different, all special.  How can councillors better reach out to people in their community so that everyone can be properly represented?

Notwestminster 2016 workshops list