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2. Party politics and Big Local

July 2015

Involvement of local councilors in Big Local partnerships

In some Big Local areas, local councillors sit on – and in some cases chair - Big Local partnerships. Where councillors are members of Big Locals, partnerships should seek to ensure:

  • that councillors are not seen to exercise undue influence and control in relation to decision-making. Big Local is intended to support residents develop confidence and control in their areas, which is in addition to the value brought to communities by local councillors
  • that there is clarity between the councillor’s role on the Big Local partnership as a member (and potentially resident), and their responsibilities as a councillor. This is particularly important when considering external communications, so that there is no suggestion that Big Local funding and the partnership more generally is supporting or promoting the interests of that councillor. This may be a particularly sensitive issue in the run up to local elections.

Involvement with local political parties

Big Local partnerships bring together local people with an interest in and commitment to their area, and there is often an overlap between partnership members and those interested and involved in local political parties. This is not a problem, provided that Big Local partnerships are careful to manage it in a way that does not expose themselves to the risk of being associated with a particular political party or agenda. This means partnerships should:

  • not endorse or oppose the initiatives or manifestos of one political party above another
  • try to ensure that their partnership is not dominated by one particular political group at the expense of others
  • actively seek to bring new people and voices onto their partnership where there is a concern that it is seen as over-dominated by one particular interest group or voice
  • review membership of the partnership to ensure that it broadly reflects the area see Partnership guidance here

Party politics and Big Local funding

Individual members of Big Local partnerships are able to engage in party political activity, however Big Local funds cannot support that activity. In the same way LTOs acting outside of Big Local can do whatever they want, within the constraints placed on them by charity law (where applicable) and their own trustees. However they cannot make use of Big Local funds to support party political activity as that breaches the terms and conditions of funding and they have a particular responsibility to ensure spend is appropriate.

Organisations that have been funded by Big Local to deliver services and activities are in the same position as LTOs – what they do outside of the confines of Big Local is not a matter for Local Trust or Big Local, but that any Big Local funds they receive should not be used to fund political activity and Big Local partnerships should not provide funding for that purpose.

We would not expect any Big Local funding to be provided to national or local political parties in any circumstances.

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