The CCA has always been proud of its events programme; a key aspect of our membership offering. In fact, in response to the restrictions that were put in place as the situation around the pandemic developed, the number of events we have held over the last year has grown enormously; transitioning from larger-scale in-person events to more frequent one-off virtual sessions. In fact, it is most likely that many of those reading this edition of cca.voice will have recently attended at least one of our online events, whether a training session, CCA Conference or one of our networking events.
This is because it is not just the number of events that has increased due to this transition to virtual sessions, but the number of participants coming along - many of whom may not have attended a prior in-person event organised by the CCA for a number of reasons.. Taking the ease that comes with virtual events, both in terms of logistics and access, the CCA earlier this year decided to put together a new event programme. Following the 2019 General Election, 45 of the newly elected Conservative MPs had been councillors at some point (excluding parish councillors). This represented a large proportion of the overall number of the new Conservative cohort. In fact, the list of serving and former councillors was extremely comprehensive, spanning both Council and Group Leaders, Executive Members and backbenchers, from right across the country. With this in mind, the CCA decided to convene the From Cllr to MP series.
The programme gives CCA Members the chance to hear about MPs’ experiences as councillors and their journeys from local government to Westminster, as well as how both have assisted them in Parliament so far. Alongside this, the sessions have also given participants several examples of how local government experience can help when going through the parliamentary selection process, as well as general insights into the process. The series began with two sessions featuring two new MPs who are known to many within local government - David Simmonds and Scott Benton. Both had spent a number of years as councillors before their election to Parliament, in a variety of positions within their respective local authorties. However, it was their time spent on the CCA Board which made welcoming them back to a CCA event that more special, as well as hearing about everything they have been up to since. From these initial sessions, the programme has grown to include numerous discussions, with the number of CCA Members joining us continuing to grow.
In fact, up to this point we have seen well over 250 people sign-up for at least one of the sessions, with many choosing to regularly attend. Through this, the discussions and topics covered are always incredibly varied, often depending on the speaker’s experience and policy interests. Due to this, the programme has helped to act as another bridge between the Parliamentary Party and councillors, as well as giving the latter a chance to hear about MPs’ current work in Parliament.
Many of those who have attended, both as speakers and participants, have agreed how useful the sessions are to talk candidly about certain topics in a friendly environment. These often concern issues that both MPs and councillors face, whether it is dealing with trolling on social media or balancing competing demands on their time and focus. What has become clear throughout the sessions is that there are a number of common threads in the work of councillors and MPs. Moreover, and most importantly, that councillors and MPs are both part of one Conservative family, with the desire to do well by our residents and communities at the heart of our work.
The CCA are continuing to add a number of new sessions to the programme, so please make sure to check the Events page of the website and mailings for more information