Additonally it might be worth reading this report, Ward councillors and community leadership: a future perspective, published in 2007 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which looked into the role of ward councillors and suggested the following attributes were necessary:
- Political representative: the ability to connect with all parts of the community and represent everyone fairly, and to balance local concerns with the political demands of the group manifesto.
- Community advocate: be a skilled advocate for people from different backgrounds, cultures, and values; have the confidence to speak freely and challenge the executive.
- Community leader: exercise community development skills – support local projects and initiatives, and educate people about local participation; be a good communicator – explain what political decisions and structures mean to constituents and community organisations; be sensitive to difference and issues of diversity and equality; have knowledge and skills to engage people in a variety of ways (not just meetings); be a conflict broker.
- Service transformer: understand the complex business of local government and services provided both by the council and others; have the confidence and ability to hold service providers to account; be able to work in partnership with a range of agencies and interests; ability to understand local problems and use this knowledge locally and strategically in local action planning; setting and monitoring service standards.
- Place shaper: being a local figurehead/role-model that people feel they can turn to; be able to shape the very local environment – ability to identify priorities, work with officers and service providers to address public realm problems, manage delegated locality budgets.
- Knowledge champion: be the primary source of local intelligence flowing between the community and the council; have the skills to collect and analyse local information and use it to benefit the community.
It would certainly be novel for local communities to feel they had this kind of representation within local government - whether at Parish, District or County Council level.
Whilst we still live in a rural community, this report, strengenthing the role of local councillors, from the Commission for Rural Communities would also make good reading for anyone considering putting themselves forward for the May elections.