Former Y&H Local Network Co-ordinator Alison Monkhouse is now part of a project team designing a New Councillor Programme for Kirklees in collaboration with the Local Government Association (LGA).

The purpose of this 18-month development programme is to ensure that “Councillors will be equipped with the confidence, skills, tools, technology, support and local intelligence to lead the changing relationship between the council and local communities.”

The programme is for all councillors and, although integrated with induction for our newly elected councillors, its focus is ‘New Councillors’ in the wider context of the new local government world. Critically, the programme is councillor-led. Engagement with councillors has informed the scope of the work (and will continue to do so) and we are using what councillors have told us about their needs and priorities to help shape the programme.

Effective use of information and intelligence will be the focus of some of the core workshop modules to be delivered by the LGA, and Alison is also working with former research and intelligence colleagues to develop a series of in-house sessions that will complement the core offer from the LGA.

We’re looking to run short (1.5 hours) sessions on some of our key intelligence platforms including Involve (tool for planning and sharing engagement activities), Kirklees Observatory (the go to place for information about communities and geographies) and Kompass (our web mapping system). These sessions will be practical, with demos and opportunities for councillors to have a go themselves and ask lots of questions. Real-life scenarios will be used to support group reflection / discussion about how this could be applied to their ward and roles as community leaders. The sessions will be set within the wider context of our Kirklees Involving Communities Framework and approach to integrated intelligence for the future.

This focus on effective use of information and intelligence will help to increase the influence of local area research by strengthening councillors’ ability to access, use, interpret and apply intelligence in their decision making.

The New Councillor Programme won’t kick off formally until the summer but we’re busy with session planning and ideas for sparking councillors’ interest via the New Councillor blog and a drop-in session before Full Council in June.

Alison said “It’s great to be involved with the development of this new programme and I’m excited about the difference it can make. It’s crucial that our councillors are well supported in their changing roles and making the most of local intelligence is a key part of this. It feels more important than ever that data, intelligence and insight are used effectively as we work in different ways. For me, the programme is a real opportunity to bring some of my research knowledge to a new area of work and help local area research to add value.”

Image credit: Kirklees Council