Whether you are in opposition or administration, council motions are a great way to both push for change on an issue as well as demonstrating to your constituents the work you are doing as a councillor.
However you should not simply do a motion and expect everyone to know what you are doing. This is why it should be integrated into your local campaigning, so your constituents know the work you are doing and the important changes you are fighting for.
Finding your motion
First of all you need to find a topic to base your motion on, and also make sure it is competent for your council. Fortunately there are a few tried and tested ways of doing so:
- Casework can often be an inspiration – there might be certain issues that come up time and time again, and if so, this might indicate that you should be campaigning on them.
- Canvassing and Knock & Drop surveys – speaking to residents and finding out what they care about is a key part of campaigning. We would recommend using our Summer Survey templates that can be found here which will help you immensely. This is also a demonstratable way of showing you are listening.
- Using ALDC template motions can help too – often national issues can be localised, and the good news is that ALDC regularly posts template motion that have been used elsewhere. Keep an eye out for new template motions here and for our campaign packs here.
How to use your motion in your campaigns
Once your motion has been debated and decided on in your Council, it is then time for you to make use of it in your campaigning.
First of all you need to think about what you have achieved. For instance, if your motion has been passed, what impact will it have? What will the headline be? Perhaps something like ‘Lib Dems secure big win’ etc.
Or was the motion voted down by opposition Parties. That might mean that you are instead attacking them – something like ‘Out of touch Tories vote against community’.
The message you deploy is important and ultimately we need to demonstrate that Liberal Democrats are working hard for the community (and conversely, the opposition are not).
You will also need to work out the medium that you will use for getting your message out. The following methods work well:
- Media – make sure you get a press release out as soon as the council papers and publicly available, and another one after the motion has been debated. If you can get it onto local press or radio stations that will help raise awareness.
- Leaflets – when preparing a motion I always think ‘will this make an exciting Focus article?’ Make sure you do motions that will be interesting and ensure you report back on how it has gone.
- Direct Mail and Emails – you can use these mediums for anyone who might be interested – whether it is street letters, emails to your email list or writing back to constituents who have raised the issue with you, this can be really helpful.
You can also take it to the next level – petitions on the back of your motion are a great way of keeping public engagement on the issue high. You might also have future updates on the consequences of the motion, so it is worth keeping it going.
Motions can be a great way of show your hard work to constituents, and also responding to the issues they raise with you. As long as you can find motions that will be of interest, you can then use it in your local campaigning and integrate it with your key messaging.