Council Questions are a quick and easy way to raise key issues with your local council in a public meeting.
You can use council questions to hold the administration to account, draw attention to an issue, demonstrate action and also celebrate successes.
Each month ALDC wants to share some good template council questions to give you inspiration. We would also like to share your best questions too. Please email email@example.com if you would like us to share one of your council questions.
Below are some questions that you could raise at your December Full Council Meeting:
The Government recently released last year’s statistics for fly-tipping actions taken by all principal authorities in England.
This gives you statistics for the number of fly-tipping incidents recorded in your authority, the number of enforcement actions taken and the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued.
You can use this data to show the difference between the number of fly-tipping incidents and the relative action your council is taking. Some example questions for an opposition group could be:
“How much has fly-tipping removal cost [COUNCIL NAME] in the past year. How many Fixed Penalty Notices has [COUNCIL NAME] issued for fly-tipping in this time and what revenue has been generated by payment of FPNs?”
“Why were [XXXX] fly-tipping offences recorded in [AREA NAME] last year – but only [XXX] enforcement actions taken and [X] FPNs issued. How does this act as a deterrent to would-be fly-tippers?”
If you are in administration, and your council performs relatively well compared to others in the league table, this could be a good council question to draw attention to that success.
“Can the Portfolio Holder explain how we became one of the top performing authorities for prosecuting fly-tipping – with the [XXth] highest number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued of any Council in Britain.”
It is estimated between 5 and 10% of public council-owned buildings constructed between the 1950s and 1990’s may contain Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). The Regulator for Social Housing has said that RAAC may be present in some local authority housing built during this period too.
Many councils are listed buildings that contain RAAC, or are in need of inspection for RAAC on their website. Buildings in which RAAC is found then need special maintenance arrangements. There are a lot of responsibilities for local councils in this area:
Some Council Questions you could raise to ensure your council are on top of this issue include:
“What actions has the Council taken to survey its building estate for the presence of RAAC.”
“How many public buildings in [AREA NAME] built between 1950 and 1990 have been inspected for RAAC – and how many of these have had RAAC identified in them.”
“Will the Council commit to publishing a list of council owned buildings and structures that may contain RAAC for which surveys are required, alongside information on if they have been inspected yet for RAAC and what their maintenance arrangements are if RAAC concrete has been found.”
“Will the Portfolio Holder update on what work has been done to survey local authority housing built between the 1950s and 1990s for the presence of RAAC.”
Dog Breeding Licenses
Licensing of dog breeders is a little publicised council power. But councils do have extensive powers to oversee and regulate safe and responsible dog breeding within their areas. It is estimated that up to 80% of dog sales come from unlicensed breeders and even puppy farms.
ALDC has produced a campaign pack on this issue and the Lib Dems have launched a national campaign condemning the Conservative Government for abandoning a key election pledge. You can find it here.
There are also some good council questions you can ask to ensure your licensing section is fulfilling its duties:
“How many licensed dog breeders are there with the [COUNCIL NAME]. Have they all received an inspection within the past year to allow them to continue breeding in a licensed way as required by the Animal Welfare Regulations Act 2018.”
“How many reports did [COUNCIL NAME] receive in the past year concerning unlicensed and unsafe dog breeding and selling practices. How were these reports dealt with and how many enforcement / police actions were taken against unlicensed dog breeders in this time.”
Small Business Saturday 2023
Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday 2 December 2023. ALDC has a campaign pack that includes a Council Motion and Literature Materials for both before and after the event that you can find here.
Small Business Saturday provides a good opportunity to ask questions about what your Council is doing to promote the event and support small businesses during the busiest shopping period of the year.
“What did [COUNCIL NAME] do to promote Small Business Saturday on 2 December 2023. How are we showing leadership to encourage residents to shop local in the run up to Christmas and beyond.”
“The Office of National Statistics reports that shoplifting has increased by 22% nationwide in the past year [INSERT NATIONAL FIGURE IF AVAILABLE]. What action is the Council taking to support businesses – and in particular small business owners who may not have access to the funds to pay for security measures – from the shop-lifting epidemic.”
“What additional measures are being put in place in the run up to Christmas to protect local businesses from shop-lifting during a period when incidents are likely to increase.”
Veterans Access to Benefits
The Royal British Legion has released statistics for each Local Authority in England, Wales and Scotland that includes how each council treats military compensation when means tested local benefits.
These statistics can also form the basis of some council questions such as;
“How many armed forces veterans in [AREA NAME] have been denied their full entitlement of [INSERT LOCAL BENEFIT] because they are in receipt of military compensation.”
“Does the Portfolio Holder agree that military compensation is essential to support veterans and their families who have suffered a lasting impact due to military service, and that it is not a benefit, but rather compensation to help veterans live a normal life. If so why does [COUNCIL NAME] continue to penalise armed forces veterans in receipt of military compensation when allocating [INSERT LOCAL BENEFIT]?