HELPING LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
GOVERN BETTER
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COUNCILLOR & COUNCILLOR RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships between councillors are ideally characterised by mutual respect and an acknowledgement that they are all doing complex and important work.

Because of the nature of a councillor’s role, they all have individual agendas and issues which they would like to pursue during their term. Despite their differences of opinion, councillors need to work together as members of the council to achieve the best outcomes for the municipality.

Good governance and the capacity for councillors to get things done depend on the quality of the relationships between them.

THE COUNCIL STRUCTURE REQUIRES GOOD RELATIONSHIPS

All councillors have their individual agendas and issues on which they wish to make an impact. They cannot rely on an institutionalised majority (that is the government) to get their issues up. So they need to be able to persuade sufficient numbers of their colleagues to support them and this depends significantly on having good ongoing relationships with each other.

The structure of council – consisting of a relatively small group of independently elected councillors – is an environment in which good relationships, mutual respect and a constructive appreciation of differences are required for good decision making and the capacity of councillors to deliver on their various election platforms.

MANAGING CONFLICT WELL

Given the way local government operates, it is inevitable that there will sometimes be conflict. However, from a good governance perspective, it’s the way that conflict is addressed that’s significant. The role of the mayor is particularly important during these times, as is the ability for councillors to appreciate the dynamics that are at play. Good, robust debate is part of local government, but the focus should always be on the issues, not the personalities.

When it comes to behaviour in the council chamber, councillors should model good constructive relationships and show personal respect for one another at all times. Understanding the key elements of good conduct and having solid processes in place to manage behaviour is also important for good governance.

 

FACT

“Good relationships help councillors achieve their goals.”

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