Myself and Councillor Afzal Akram, from neighbouring Lea Bridge ward, attended a breakfast meeting with Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (pictured above left) and Dame Jane Roberts, former Leader of the London Borough of Camden (pictured above right), yesterday, to feed into the new Commission the Secretary of State has set up – being chaired by Dame Roberts – to look at ways of encouraging a more diverse range of people into becoming local councillors.
The breakfast meeting, hosted by Heather Jameson, Deputy Editor of the local government magazine ‘Municipal Journal‘, was great. Cllr Akram and I joined other young councillor colleagues from all three of the main political parties, to put our ideas and points to Ruth and Jane about how we’re finding the role and what we thought Government could do to encourage others to follow.
There were loads of other London Labour councillors there. It was lovely to catch up with rising stars Cllr Florence Nosegbe from the London Borough of Lambeth and Cllr Sonika Nirwal from the London Borough of Ealing. Cllr Heidi Alexander, Deputy Directly Elected Mayor of the London Borough of Lewisham, was there too.
As well as the councillors getting to make our points, Paul Wheeler, Director of the Political Skills Forum (pictured above) informed Ruth and Jane about the work he is doing to try and raise the profile of local councillors and to try and help councillors acquire a recognised qualification for their work.
I am really pleased that my own local authority is working with Paul to pilot a new tailor made post graduate course in ‘Political Governance and Community Leadership‘. I am hoping that the pilot will be successful and subsequently rolled out to councils across the country.
Thanks so much again to Paul and the Municipal Journal for inviting us all along.
I know that Cllr Akram (pictured above left) and I both found the meeting very useful and will now look into feeding into the commission’s work more formally.