Political Awareness for officers in a local authority

To understand the political dynamics of local government, to explore the governance arrangements which underpin the operation of a council and to consider how to operate effectively as an officer at the political interface.

Any officer who is in a position requiring interface with elected members, or who is planning to move into such a role. Particularly useful for officers who have joined local government from other sectors.

Political Awareness/Dynamics

  • The role of elected councillors in local government
  • The role of officers (including statutory officers)
  • The central importance of the relationship between members and officers in an effective council
  • How the relationship works with new/complex structures e.g. LA companies, Trusts, JVs, shared services
  • Relevant good practice, codes and protocols
  • Danger areas and how to avoid/mitigate these including
    • Different governance arrangements (cabinet, elected mayor, committee structure)
    • Different political configurations (majority, balanced, coalition)
    • Shared services, joint arrangements and combined authorities
    • Change of political control
    • Working privately with the political groups
    • Dealing with scrutiny
    • Pre-election season
    • Political publicity
    • Conflicts and complaints – breakdown of the relationship
  • Protocols and guidance
  • Top tips for operating successfully in a political environment

Governance framework
This part of the session will focus on the differences between a local authority and other organisations, and how to operate effectively at senior level in a legal role. We will address the challenges posed by:

  • Public engagement and accountability, including consultation, complaint and challenge
  • Transparency and openness – how can you operate commercially in the context of freedom of information
  • Legal requirements e.g. equalities and human rights
  • Making decisions which are robust against judicial review

Personal Skills
The session will explore the skills needed as a senior officer in local government operating at the political interface – being technically excellent is not enough! We will address:

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Empathy – acknowledging different views and political mandates
  • Neutrality
  • Developing relationships
  • Confidence and assertiveness

I found this course to be excellent and superbly presented. The speaker’s knowledge was fantastic. I will leave the course today having a much better understanding than I did before

Lawyer, Unitary Council

That all delegates:

  • Fully understand the inter-dependent roles of members and officers
  • Are confident in the codes, protocols and legal requirements which apply to the relationship
  • Come away with an awareness of areas of risk and practical ideas for operating effectively
  • Appreciate the differences between a local authority as a public body and other large organisations
  • Understand the skills needed to survive and thrive in the local government setting
  • Feel better equipped to carry out their senior roles successfully

Discuss your training options today