Derbyshire Local Party Reorganisation

August 17, 2017 9:45 PM
By Jonathan Sneade

Liberal Democrat Local Parties in Derbyshire

Derbyshire Constituency Party Chairs/Secretaries and Key Contacts have received emails today, following on from an email from Leon Duveen, about changing our organisation structure across Derbyshire.

Across most of the country (outside London) Liberal Democrat local parties have usually been based on Westminster parliamentary constituencies. However this is starting to change.
Constituency-based local parties were useful for co-ordinated campaigning for the 'big' prize of an MP, but are not so good for engaging members to campaign for council seats. Also for a period in the 1990s and 2000s many council boundaries were being reviewed and constituency boundaries were fairly static. But this is now changing.

In 2011 the Government passed legislation to require constituency boundaries to be reviewed more frequently - potentially before every General Election. Timescales for these reviews are tight. Reorganising our Local Parties is disruptive and distracts from other planning and campaigning, especially not good just before a general election. As a result many areas are now considering reforming their Local Parties on the basis of Council boundaries - in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, there is a significant demand for such change. Most areas will not notice much difference (for some there will be no change at all), but a switch to using council boundaries will see Mid Derbyshire being split between Amber Valley, Erewash, and Derby City.

Local Parties based on Council areas, while being of variable size, also have other advantages.

  • Council elections generally take place more often than general elections. (Three years out of four in Derby and some boroughs, every two years in the other boroughs/districts combined with county elections.)
  • Consulting members about policies for council election manifestos is easier when the whole council area is in one Local Party.
  • Co-ordinating campaigns which relate to one council is easier when everywhere is in the same Local Party.
  • Members are often more motivated to support a campaign in one ward of their own council than to cross council borders.

Each Local Party has a constitution which defines the area it covers. To form Local Parties on council boundaries members will have to approve appropriate Constitutions. This is most conveniently done at their Annual General Meetings in October or November and the changes then take effect from January. The time between the meeting and taking over responsibility will allow changes to things like bank accounts and training for people taking over new committee responsibilities.
Members will continue to be able to group together to form larger Local Parties based on more than one council area if they choose, in exactly the same way as multiple constituencies can group together at the moment.
This whole process is overseen by a regional local party committee called the Local Parties Committee. The switch to Local Authority parties will take place by the end of this year - this needs to be done to allow time for new teams to be settle in before the 2019 election campaigns. Over the summer and into early autumn you can expect to hear more about the process and how to get involved. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with your local Executive or Robert Mee, who is a key member of the working group dealing with this issue.

Best Wishes,
Jonathan Sneade,
Vice-Chair, Derbyshire Lib Dems