London’s councils are responsible for 95 per cent of the capital’s roads, so they are key to delivering walking and cycling improvements in London. You can download our full Guide to Lobbying your Council but below is some information to get you started, along with our top tips!
WHAT IS LOBBYING?
Lobbying is basically, trying to influence someone on an issue. There are different lobbying methods you can use:
- Writing a letter
- Sending an email
- Sending a fax
- Making a phone call
- Visiting a Councillor surgery or Council meeting
- Inviting Councillors or officials to take part in an action, a ride, or attend one of your events and advising local media
- Sending a letter to your local newspaper explaining the issue and the position of those you are trying to lobby
Much of the work of a local campaigner will involve liaising with council officers and councillors. If councillors and officers see you as a reliable source of sensible information and suggestions, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.
For any questions, help or advice on any of the information on lobbying your council, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR TOP TIPS!
- Councillors or Council Officers may be more likely to listen if you speak for significant numbers of people. In your communications you can state how many LCC members exist in their ward or borough for example.
- Be friendly! Don’t use aggressive tactics or accusatory tones in letters or meetings; remember you are dealing with ordinary people; who will appreciate someone who communicates in a polite, reasonable and constructive manner. You are more likely to get your message heard and engage a someone if you act this way.
- Establish yourself as a reliable source of information
- Councillors are very busy, so give them clear, concise information – avoid swamping them with pages and pages.
- Speak their language, making the case for cycling in terms they understand (economy, better value, air quality, public health, reduction in motor traffic)
- Don’t just complain – offer solutions.
- Make sure you recognise other road user groups, such as pedestrians. You should talk about how Space for Cycling measures or the solutions you are proposing will help to improve local areas and make them nicer places for all people to live, and will therefore benefit a wide range of people, not just cyclists.
- Give councillors or officers credit where it is due, e.g. in letters to the press, on social media, or in blogs. Around an election period, remember not to be party political, or attempt to influence votes in such publications.
- Be aware that some politicians will say yes to anything as long as they don’t expect to be held to it!
- Councillors from opposition parties are often keen to question the decisions of others. You might be able to use this to your advantage when campaigning.
- Even a handful of letters or phone calls to a councillor or officer can make all the difference and may encourage them to support you.
- Whilst volume can sometimes be helpful, a face-to-face meeting with each of your councillors may be more effective than 100 emails on the same issue.
- End any letters or emails with “I look forward to your reply”.
- Councillors should be willing to listen to you and give you their opinion and reasoning. You can keep pushing for a response if you don’t get one, and you can keep writing or calling to ask for their specific view point if you don’t get one.
- Don’t keep kicking a closed door – you will merely damage your relationship with councillors and officers. Once you’ve made your point, don’t repeat it ad nauseam
- If dialogue breaks down, analyse why things are not working currently and consider another line of approach.