Posted by: Mike Grenville | 9 December 2009

Working With Councils

The Community Development Foundation have produced a handy little nuts and bolts explanation of how local authorities in the UK work.

Called Green Up!, it provides community groups with everything they need to work productively with their councils on environment and sustainability issues. It explains how community groups can use everything from Local Area Agreements to Sustainable Community Strategies to get their work supported. The guide also explains all the words and vocabulary commonly used by councils, so local groups can clearly understand ‘council speak’.

They suggest five ways to interact with your local council on environmental issues:

  1. National Indicators (how councils are judged by the Audit Commission);
  2. Sustainable Community Strategies (one of the core policies of a council);
  3. Local Development Frameworks (planning);
  4. Civil Contingencies Planning (emergencies);
  5. Your Own Agenda.

Anyone who is struggling to find their way around the labyrinth that is local government would be well advised to read this short (43 page) primer. Green Up can be downloaded free here:

As some of you will know the next but one in the Transition series is called “Communities, councils and a low carbon future – what we can do if governments won’t”. Cllr Alexis Rowell of Camden Council and Transition Belsize is just putting the final touches to the manuscript. The publication date is set for May 2010.

One final element that Alexis would like to include in the book is any thoughts anyone might have on standing for election.

  • Should Transitioners stand?
  • Should they stand as Transition candidates or Independents, or should they join one of the main parties?
  • What is the experience of those who have stood or who have tried to stand?
  • What’s it like to be in local government?
  • Are there any local government officers out there with strong views on this?

If you email Alexis on, then your thoughts are very likely to find their way into the book, and may inspire many others to take the steps you have and contribute to their community in this special way.


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