Far from objecting to the CCHQ mandatory Local Government Selection Rules, our local Associations positively welcomed them (apart from one or two councillors who preferred the old way, but I am not going to lose too much sleep over people complaining that they don't think they should be accountable.).
It is right that a national standard is set for selecting local government candidates, rather than the hotchpotch of local arrangements that were in place previously. It is also good that CCHQ has defined what constitutes an "active branch" based on a simple to understand membership threshold. Too often I have seen dubious branch committees consisting of the candidate, his or her spouse and their next door neighbour, holding on to positions simply to ensure the continuation of the status quo, whilst refusing to contribute anything of worth to the Association in terms of campaign activity, mutual aid or fund raising.
I have blogged previously about the work we are doing to boost the Approved List, to ensure branches and the Local Government Committee have the widest possible choice of candidates. Locally we have also published guidelines on how incumbent councillors and new applicants should be assessed (yes, we insist that all incumbents are re-interviewed and re-approved each cycle, and where a councillor has continually underperformed, in extremis we have actually removed them from the list).
The Chairman of the Tunbridge Wells Local Government Committee, Cllr Nick Rogers, has produced a simple to use Interview Assessment Form. This was developed in consultation with local members who have extensive HR experience in two of the UKs largest PLCs. The form assists the members of the interview panel to assess each applicant across a range of pre-defined performance criteria, allocating scores for each sub-set. At the conclusion of the interview, the candidate's performance in each area is calculated along with an overall score. Feedback is given in areas where the candidate is considered to have performed poorly (and recognition where they have exceeded expectations). Applicants needs to score 60% for automatic re-approval. 50%-60% requires a reassessment. Under 50% results in that applicant being removed from the Approved List (though they may appeal to the Executive Council if this happens). Nick Rogers is now developing a similar tool for new applicants.
Such a system is objective and fair for all concerned. We have now adopted this system across all there West Kent Associations. A copy of the assessment may be downloaded at the following link: