Council Motions are a very useful tool for a councillor – and they can be used both if you are in administration or in opposition. It is particularly useful for opposition councillors who might otherwise struggle to influence Council policy.
If you put forward a motion, you will want your constituents to know what you have done. The only way they will know is if you tell them. Part of this might be through the media, but the most effective way of getting this message across is through your Focus newsletters.
Writing the motion
When writing a motion for Council, I will always think about a few things first:
- Is it of interest for local residents and will it make an interesting Focus article? There is a place for procedural type motions, but this is unlikely to enthral residents who are unlikely to care. If preparing a motion that you will put in a Focus, make sure it is interesting and will tap into people’s emotions.
- Is it topical? Often if it is about an issue that people are currently thinking about, such as perhaps the Cost of Living Crisis right now, it will make a better Focus article.
- Is it something that people are telling you that is important? Think about your casework, your answers in surveys or previous Focus grumble sheets. Use this feedback for your Motions.
- Is it local or national in scope? Local issues matter to people but so do national. A motion that is more national in scope can help localise these issues too which can make a great Focus article, but it can even be on a ward-level issue.
- Does it let you differentiate yourself from opposition parties?
Reporting back on the Motion
After the Council meeting, you will want to think about the Focus article you will write about to report back on what you did. It is important you use the Focus to get your side of this story out:
- Was your motion successfully passed? If so then you can have a really positive story, with a headline along the lines of “Success as Lib Dems secure xxxx” or something along those lines. It can help create a really positive buzz about what you are doing?
- Was your motion rejected by opposition parties? If so you may want to think about an attack story on them rejecting your sensible proposal. The headline could be “Outrage as Tories reject xxxx” for instance. You can show yourself as the councillor who is working hard for the area but the opposition being out of touch.
- Make sure your story is engaging – have a strong headline, an attention grabbing first paragraph and a good quote from yourself. Avoid jargon or council speak, even if there is a bit of that in your motion. You want to make it easy to read and understand for everyone.
- Longer term consequences? It might be that your motion achieves something and this bears fruit over a longer term. There is no reason why you can’t use this in future stories so that you keep getting credit for this.
Motions are extremely useful for helping to both enact change but also generate great Focus content. Make sure that your motion will be interesting but also make sure your Focus is too. Ultimately if you don’t tell your constituents that you have done this, they will not know.