Ahead of the 2023 Local Elections this week, here are some essential tips for those making the jump from opposition into leadership.
1. Make it a priority to spend some time with your chief executive. You’ll need a close (but not cosy) relationship so make sure that you spend some time getting to know and understand each other.
2. Approach the role with both an open and critical mind. If you’ve spent the last four years in opposition trying to bring about a change in administration, it may feel like everything your opponents were doing was wrong. But don’t fall foul of the temptation to assume that everything, the baby and the bath water, needs to be thrown out. Don’t drop the critical mindset either. A new broom sweeps cleaner, and you’ll be able to identify things that do need to change.
3. Reacquaint yourself with your council’s constitution. You should already know it well but now that you have control of the council you should be asking whether it is fit for purpose and enables the delivery of your agenda. The last thing you want over the next four years is to be working around the constitution rather than with it. Now is the time to ensure your rules and procedures are the correct ones.
4. Get meetings in the diary with the leaders of your neighbouring authorities and, if you’re in a two-tier area, the leader(s) of the other tier of local government. You’ll achieve much more over the next four years if you’re working collaboratively with the other councils than if you’re having to work alone. Sharing resources and working together on shared goals will save money and improve effectiveness.
5. Don’t forget your group. This is the most important tip of all. It’s your group who will give the most headaches over the next four years but without their votes you won’t have four years. Keep in touch with them, include them in decision making and never take them for granted. Make sure you have an effective group whip and if you don’t already have a group whip, appoint one.
3rd May 2023