Campaign Guide: Lobbying your Local Government

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1 Campaign Guide: Lobbying your Local Government 0

2 Lobbying your Local Government Most people do not have direct access to national decision makers. However, you will be able to access influential people like your local Member of Parliament, as well as members of political parties and councilors. These are the people who make decisions regarding your local area. Local Council By contacting and targeting the right people, you can put them on track to resolve the street lighting issues in your local area. A great way to start the process is to contact your local council to express your concerns and allow them to respond in order to get a clear idea of their position on the matter. A template letter to a local council is available on our website. If you are unhappy with their position and response, you may need to do some further investigation into potential sources of political support. Do your research. If your local council voted in favour of the street lighting reductions, this will most likely not have been a unanimous agreement. Find out who voted against the changes and write to them stating your concerns and whether they would be prepared to support you in your campaign efforts. Request a face to face meeting with a local councillor and make sure you have plenty of time to prepare. Work out the key points you want to get across in the meeting and alert your local councillor to the support you have already gathered. 1

3 Be organised. Take a short briefing of your key points which you can leave with your local councillor. If you know that your local councillor is supportive, then establish what it is you want them to do for your campaign. Get them involved. Try to arrange an interview with them or get a quote from them that you can use for a press release or in your social media campaigning. Stay in touch. Write to them thanking them for meeting with you, and send them updates on any relevant press stories, petitions and reports on the issue. By establishing links with certain local councillors and involving them in your campaign, you will give yourself a political edge that will force people to take notice and act on the issue. Petitioning Another way to progress if you are struggling to find support from your local council is to start a petition in your local community to have the lights switched back on. This is a hugely successful way of demonstrating the opposition in your area to street lighting cuts. With enough signatures, it has the potential to force your local council to hold a debate on the issue and reconsider the implications of the policy. The following tips can help you write a successful petition: Write concisely and clearly. Establish visibly from the start the main point you want to make, as most people hoping to sign will not have a lot of time to read the whole thing. Remember to write concisely and persuasively in order to have the maximum impact. 2

4 Use . Online petitions can reach a wide audience with the right kind of support. is a highly effective and easy way of doing this. Don't spam, but do send your petition link to any friends or family that might be interested- and ask them to send it on to their friends. Use social media. Develop an online community whereby people can see what others have commented about your petition. Use Facebook, Twitter and discussion blogs to develop a group of people who show an interest and can discuss and educate others about the issues at stake. A vibrant online community is the best way of keeping the petition going. Get media exposure. Often, the most successful petitions are those that receive attention on local radio, or even on small Internet news sites. Include them in any press releases you publish, and make local politicians who support your campaign aware of your petition so that they can encourage further local involvement. Don t just rely on online efforts. There are various things you can do in your day-to-day activities to get more signatures. For example, posters on community bulletin boards (e.g., at the library), or even word-of-mouth at the office and other social activities, can be valuable accumulators of support. Establish a goal for the number of signatures you want to collect. Once this has been met, use this to demand your local council to hold a general meeting where the issue can be debated and reconsidered. With the support of certain local councilors, this is often enough to force your local council to reassess the policy and hold another vote on its implementation. 3

5 Contacting your Local MP Approaching your local member of parliament to gain a general idea of the MP s position on the issue of street lighting has the potential to significantly support your campaign. The best way to make initial contact with your local MP is to send a letter: The most effective way to get your MP s attention is to fill their post boxes full of letters. Hand written letters are taken really seriously by MP s as they show that the person sending them is serious about the issue. Encourage those who support your campaign to send letters too so that the MP knows that the issue has prominence. Before you ask anyone else to write to your local MP, write your own letter. Make sure you refer to yourself as a voter in their constituency, and be clear about what you want them to do for your cause. Your letter should set out rationally and calmly the reasons why the street lighting provisions in your area should be changed, reviewed or abandoned. Be accurate and do not exaggerate or provide misleading information. Always double check if you are not sure. If you are writing on behalf of an organisation, it would be helpful to briefly explain why this particular organisation is interested in the street lighting issue. If you are writing as an individual, it may be helpful to include any personal experiences you have faced as a result of street lighting reductions. 4

6 Remember to research and acknowledge any supportive action your MP has already taken in regards to street lighting cuts. Be passionate but avoid sounding confrontational or accusatory, as you want to build a relationship with your MP and attract their support. Remember that your view is a reflection of local public opinion and therefore of great value to the constituency MP. If you do establish a good relationship with your MP, it may be helpful to request a meeting with them to discuss the issue further. Before you make contact, do your research on your local MP. You can visit just enter your postcode and it will give you all the information on your local MP, their areas of interest and their contact details. On the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website you will find a template of a letter to be addressed to an MP, you can use this as a starting point. Contacting local politicians In the run-up to the general election next year, now is the best time to target local politicians and get them behind the street lighting issue. Find out which political parties in your area would be prepared to support your campaign and establish a relationship with them whereby they can provide you with supportive quotes and useful contacts. This will also help you gain attention and support from the press, who will be keen to pick up on local political issues. For further support on how to attract attention from the media, see our Working with the Press guide. 5

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