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What is local politics and how can I get involved?

Cllr Aalaina Khan
Cllr Aalaina Khan
In this article, an elected councillor explains what local politics is, how it might affect you, and how you can get involved.
Decorative image of the Greater Manchester skyline
Decorative image of the Greater Manchester skyline

How does local politics work in GM?

Emptying bins, sweeping the streets, caring for local parks, fixing the roads, running the libraries and leisure centres; these, and many more, are all the responsibility of local Councils.

Councillors make decisions about services at meetings which usually take place in the local Town Hall. The meetings are held in public so people can come along and watch Councillors debate their decisions or can read about them in the written record of the meetings, known as the minutes. The local newspaper often reports on these meetings too!

In Greater Manchester, there are ten Councils; Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. Collectively, they all come together to be known as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

How do I get involved?

To get involved in local politics, most people join the local branch of their political party like the Labour Party or the Conservative Party. From there, they can be chosen by the party to stand as a candidate in a Council election. Sometimes people stand for election without being members of political parties; these people are known as Independents.


A tram in Greater Manchester runs along raised track.

What do councillors do?

Candidates who win at the election become Councillors and get to vote at Town Hall meetings and can speak in debates. They also support the residents in the area they represent with issues like housing, welfare benefits, and often sit on committees to look at the work of local authorities in their area. Sometimes being a councillor is also just helping to get potholes filled in and street lights fixed.

Councillors can also take on additional responsibilities on a Council, like looking after a policy area such as health or the environment. Roles with additional responsibilities can be members of the Council’s Cabinet, or chairs of committees. Find out more about becoming a councillor on the Local Government Association’s website.

Even though councillors are a less well-publicised part of politics, they are key to many parts of everyday life. It’s important to pay attention to local politics and have your say by voting in Council elections, so make sure to keep your eye out for upcoming elections!


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