Dear Councillor Smith,
Last November, our party started a process to reform our structures so we better reflect and represent our local communities. Key areas identified for improvement have been increasing support for Councillors, responding to devolution and doing more to ensure our MPs, Councillors, PPC and Mayors reflect the diversity of the communities they represent.
Labour’s local government representatives play a huge part in our party, and the introduction of directly-elected mayors of Combined Authorities represent an exciting, new opportunity for us.
If elected, Labour’s new Metro Mayors will make a huge positive difference to their communities, building more housing, improving transport, education and more.
Throughout the year Councillors have played a key role in feeding back improvements which will help you better represent the Labour Party and members in your local area.
There are some areas of the Party Reform work that require further thought and reflection, but there are many important areas where there is consensus and we are delighted to say the NEC has agreed to make the changes below so that we can start the work of building a stronger Labour Party, ready to face the challenges ahead.
Changes agreed by the NEC:
- To increase transparency on how the ALC Levy is spent, the General Secretary will make an annual report to the ALC Executive on how the money has been used.
- The Labour Party will offer more training and support, especially for newly-elected councillors, to follow on from the series of webinars, regional training days and increased training events already organised at Annual Conference 2016.
- To reflect Local Authorities who have chosen to adopt a four-year “strong leader” model, Labour Groups may choose to elect a leader for a four year term with a right of recall triggered by two-thirds of the Labour Group.
- To protect Councillors from campaigns to set illegal budgets, the Rule Book will insist Labour Groups shall not back any proposal to set an illegal budget.
- Cabinets and Labour Group Executives should reflect the wider community, and gender balance of the executive should reflect the group as a whole.
- To improve accountability and to improve collaboration with existing party structures, Combined Authority Mayors and PCCs will make regular reports and feed back to CLPs, Labour Groups, affiliates and regional conferences.
- To ensure our local government selections are robust, family members will no longer be allowed to sit on assessment team interview panels for their own spouses or relatives.
- In future all Local Government assessment team interview panels will be chaired by an external chair from a different local authority area.
- Ward shortlisting meetings may choose to adopt a shortlist which comprises only the sitting councillors for the electoral area concerned who are seeking re-election.
- To keep local members in touch with the work done by local government representatives, Labour Group leaders will be entitled to Labour Party membership lists for the area they represent.
- As part of our commitment to promoting diversity and under-represented people, the Labour Party will work to phase-out all male-member wards.
- The LGA Labour leader will attend meetings of the Shadow Cabinet.
- ALC Executive representatives will have a place on regional boards.
- Councillors may count the payments they have made through the ALC Levy towards membership of the Thousand Club.
- New councillors will receive a free pass to Labour’s Local Government Conference.
- Scottish and Welsh Executive Committees will manage and administer selection of candidates for devolved institutions and local government selections in Scotland and Wales.
We are delighted to have achieved these recommendations to make our processes and procedures fairer and more transparent, increase diversity and better support Councillors. Thank you to the thousands of Councillors over the past year who contributed to the consultation and final report.
Tom Watson and Alice Perry
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and NEC Local Government Representative