Councils for PR

Guide

Councils for PR Guide

The goal is to get progressive UK councils (city, county, district, parish) to pass a motion stating that they support PR for Parliamentary General Elections.

Read Model motion here.

Councils are a structure of local government and can make decisions and statements about local issues.  A motion is a request made by a councillor for an issue to be discussed at a Council Meeting and for a decision to be made.  A local council passing a motion in support of PR for Parliamentary General Elections is a powerful symbol that the local community supports PR.  It is a useful tool for mobilising others (such as MPs) to take action, and that this is an issue that local people feel strongly about.
Here are the steps to achieve this. Remember, local authorities differ massively; treat the following as a guide, not a set of instructions.

Council process and political structures

This is a very useful guide on Council process and political structures.

Do you live in an area with a progressive council?

Check which of the local councils that represent you are run by some combination of progressives – Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party. Do this by searching your city/county/district/parish name and the word ‘council’ and ‘wikipedia’. This should give you information on the make up of your councils.

Picking a Council to prioritise if you have a choice

If you have, for example, a county and district council that are both run by progressives, then we suggest starting with a council that is more dominated by the smaller parties (Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party) that already support PR.

Network locally with other PR supporters

Maybe you already know a load of local councillors or PR supporters. If so, great. If not, then you need to do some networking. Do you know anyone that knows local progressive councillors? This is the best place to start. Ideally these councillors already support PR.

Alternatively, you can network with the groups that support PR to find others to work with who may know local councillors. Places to start are the Compass local groups list, Get PR Done facebook group, MVM Grassroots, local Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party branches.

If you are quite committed to a political party but not a member then it might help if you become a member of that party.

Contact councillors to find one that supports PR

For this to succeed, you will need a good relationship with at least one councillor.

Do you know the councillors that represent you? If not, check who they are here. Are they from progressive parties, if so reach out to them and ask their position on PR

You could also broaden your search and search for the progressive councillors for the council you are focusing on (city, county, district, parish). Suggest starting with the smaller parties that apply to your area – Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party. You can normally find their email addresses on the council website.

If you are in a smaller political party then maybe you can network in your local party to find a councillor that way.

Persuade Councillors to take your motion to be discussed at a Council meeting

Once you have found one or a few councilors that support PR, then ideally meet with them (in person or zoom) to discuss how to get a PR motion passed at the council. They will know how the council works and who might support it and how likely it is to get the motion passed.

Ask your councillor contacts how many other councillors are likely to support the motion.  Are they able to speak to others to sound them out? Do they need you/others involved in the campaign to do this for them?  What is the political makeup of the council?

See some useful tips half way down this webpage.

Another option to get publicity and local support for your council passing a motion supporting PR is to set up a petition. This could be on the council’s website, where if you get enough signatures, then the petition must be debated by the council. An example is Bristol Council, check your council website for information. Another option is you could also run a petition on change.org, 38 degrees or a similar website. Once you have enough local support, you could use that to get councillor support.

The Council meeting and submitting the motion

The motion must be put forward (“moved”) by a councillor, then seconded. These actions are usually accompanied by short speech. To pass, the motion will need to be approved by a majority of councillors, so cross-party support may be important.

Find out the likely timetable for the motion. Motions can usually be proposed at any full council meeting.  It’s a public meeting, so you can and should attend! They normally need to be proposed in writing several days before the meeting (roughly between five and seven days before; it varies from council to council). Your councillor contact should be aware of these rules, and may be able to advise which meeting is the best one to plan for.  If there are a lot of motions proposed for a particular meeting, yours may not get debated.

This explains how council meetings are run.

Inform Councils for PR facebook group of your activity

Do this to let us know which council you are trying to get the PR motion passed at, so we can share it.

Need for publicity after motion passed

One of the main purposes of this campaign is to spread the pro-PR message far and wide.

Assuming the local media (press, TV, radio) covers the fact that your local council has passed the motion, it was be VERY IMPORTANT that the local organiser locates that coverage and sends a copy to the main CFPR email address. Please send in an accessible format.

If the motion passes but there is no ensuing media coverage, send in an email nevertheless.

We will then make major effort to spread this local news across the UK via social media at a minimum.

Resources for getting press coverage:

Ten ways to get coverage in your local media

Press release template

Press release guide 1

Press release guide 2

How to Send a Press Release Email to Journalists