On Thursday 6 May there will be local council and mayoral elections all over England. There will also be Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections.
They all present an opportunity to raise the profile of community energy locally and with local government and to build relationships.
- write to councillors asking them what their attitude to community energy is and to make clear in election statements their proposals for tackling climate change (including community energy)
- hold an online hustings, perhaps in collaboration with other groups like Friends of the Earth
How to suggestions
Not all candidates will be in place until 9 April but you will be able to find them via https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/ Some contact and social media details will be there. More are added the nearer we get to the election. Failing that you can try going via the local political party. Politicians are most responsive to their electorate but groups that are active across a wider area can make contact even if they don't have an address in the ward or district.
Also tweet, use facebook, instagram. Great if you can get a good story that they will retweet or share. Politicians love photo opps and local good news. It is most useful to build good relations and to get support from the candidate that is most likely to win. You do not have to actively support them for that to happen. Maybe invite them to visit when it will be safe.
I am part of/volunteer with [name of project and short description of your activities.] Community energy is brilliant at engaging local citizens in inventing and adopting local solutions to climate change. Without engaging people to consent and actively participate, achieving net zero will be impossible. We can work with the council to help achieve its climate goals and to do strategic local energy projects, energy efficiency and fuel poverty work. [delete/vary as appropriate]
Please will you pledge that, if elected, you will support our activies and encourage the council to work with us to achieve net zero. Please mention the importance of community energy in your campaign literature. [You may like to offer a photo opportunity...]
Good luck in the elections.
For more information visit [link], please follow our [facebook] and [twitter]. Feel free to give us a ring on [07....]
Address and post code.
Consider partnering with another local group to hold an online hustings. (You could get hundreds of attenders).
Friends of the Earth has an excellent Guide to organising online hustings.
Remember to prepare a very short 1-2 minute inspiring introductory presentation with pictures. You will have people there who have never heard of your organsiation.
Choose your group carefully and agree messaging and title well ahead (Climate Hustings? Community Hustings? Community and Climate Hustings?). It may be Friends of the Earth, XR, or a more community partner.
Fix date, agree who you'll invite and book them early. Agree format and questions (including something strongly related to community energy eg climate change, fuel poverty..) you'd like the candidates to focus on in their speech. Max 5 minute speeches, followed by Q&A.
Create eventbrite page (or similar) for booking - enables you to email all attenders. Costs nothing if event is free. Link it to a facebook event for ease of sharing. You can add an opportunity for people to ask questions in advance.
Agree a comms strategy using social media and possibly posters/fliers to get the most people there.
Nearer the date. Ramp up publicity. Ask people to send in
Appoint a good strong independent chair. Remember diversity issues. Appoint chair's assistants to keep time and alert speaker when there's 1 minute to go, keep an eye out for questions,.
Discuss advance-notified questions, which to ask in which order, (themes)
Appoint a zoom convenor, responsible for letting people in (kicking them out if necessary), managing sharing screens etc.
Share meeting plan with all participants and online assistants.
Hold a rehearsal to make sure people know how to use the tech, candidates can connect adequately.
Ensure eventbrite has sent out your reminder email an appropriate interval in advance. Invite people to submit questions in advance. And tell them what time to expect the zoom link and to check their spam folder if it hasn't arrived. Make sure zoom link email is scheduled, for say 1 hour before the hustings.
In the hustings
Welcome, thank, introduce, short relevant presentation 2 mins max from host partners,
Introduce speakers (reverse alphabetical order since they appear in alphabetical on the ballot paper?)
Each speaks for 5 mins, encourage them to stick to the question or theme
Notifications, (other hustings, getting involved in hosts' activities)
Thanks and goodnight.