Top 10 tips for new councillors

So you’ve been elected – congratulations! As a starter for 10 we’ve put together some top tips for new councillors:

  1. Stay on top of your email – constituents are impressed by a quick reply, and once a backlog has built up you’ll be going downhill fast.
  2. Study the winning party’s manifesto – if you’re on the winning side, you’ll be challenged on what you’re doing to deliver; if you’re not, it’s your job to do the challenging.
  3. Try to understand who runs your council – you may have a ‘strong Leader’, or an all-controlling Chief Executive, your council may be officer-led or member-led: you need to know where the power is.
  4. Make sure you’ve got a good photo on the council website, with your contact details: and don’t forget your surgeries – even if hardly anyone ever comes, the one you skip will be the one that someone especially in need of help turns up to.
  5. Find out about your council committees – which make a difference, which don’t – and work out which you want to get on to (or avoid!).
  6. Go for a coffee with your local journalist – important to build some kind of relationship if you can, before they have some reason to chase you.
  7. Make sure you know your council’s procedures in terms of recording Members Interests and declaring any entertainment or gifts you benefit from – they’re easy to keep up to date, but also easy to get caught out on if you forget.
  8. Know your council’s constitution – the rules for debates, for asking formal questions, for inviting deputations or making petitions – or better still, get someone to tell you which sections matter, out of what may be a 200 page book.
  9. Make sure you’re getting LGiU’s services – briefings, the Daily News, and C’llr magazine (see below). Ask your Member Services or email
  10. Explain your new role to your friends and relations, ask for their sympathy, and cancel the rest of your life…

How can LGiU help you, as a new councillor

What is LGiU?

‘a respected, even-handed think tank which crosses policy divides with ease’ Local Government Chronicle

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is run by councils for councils.

LGiU is an independent non-party charity with some 200 councils subscribing to its networks. 30 new councils joined as  members in 2012 including Blackpool, Calderdale, Coventry, East Riding, High Peak, Kent, Shepway, Stroud, Wiltshire, Wyre.

LGiU is an award winning think-tank and membership organisation with a mission to strengthen local democracy: to see if your council is a member, check the membership list on our website.

  • Non-members can access Reports and back numbers of C’llr magazine, all available publicly on our website – and sign up to get alerts for the LGiU Blog.
  • Member councils get access to key additional services as listed below.

Some 15,000 councillors and staff – including Leaders and Backbenchers,  Chief Executives and Policy Teams, Member Services and HR – use LGiU briefings every week and read the new LGiU Daily News. LGiU also works with associate organisations and social enterprises with links to the sector.

What does LGiU offer its members ?

‘LGiU briefings provide timely insight…focusing resources on priority areas’ Head of Policy, Birmingham City Council

LGiU membership offers you:

  • LGiU’s acclaimed Policy Briefings
  • The new Daily News, every day except Christmas
  • Learning and Development programmes for councillors
  • C’llr magazine – the magazine dedicated to elected members
  • C’llr Achievement Awards – the only national awards recognising the achievement of locally elected councillors
  • Party conference events and receptions

Any councillor or officer at a member council can access LGiU Policy Briefings and Daily News, emailed direct to your mobile or PC:

Or email for comments or assistance.

What else does LGiU offer member councils ?

As an LGiU member your council can get involved in future planning and governance. Your council will each year agree who represents you – contact LGiU for details of the current nominee.

LGiU also publishes Policy Reports and is the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group, working with Ministers, Shadows, and senior Whitehall staff. As a councillor or officer at a member council, LGiU’s policy team and associates can come to you to discuss current and past policy projects.