After a turbulent few years, a working party has been set the task of addressing the purpose and potential of Kingstone Branch meetings. To do this effectively, the branch is asking for input from its members – old and new.
So, if you drifted away from us and woud like to see a return to political education, debate and training or were perhaps inspired to join during the leadership campaign and want to learn more and play your part in shaping party policy, please have your say either by replying to your calling notice or by attending the next meeting at 7.00pm on Monday 21st November (at the Worsbrough Common Community Centre, Warren Quarry Lane).
This is could be an exciting time to help decide the future direction of the branch and bring the members and policies back to the fore.
So whether you want to chip in to help us reach our goals because you share our values, or because you have ambitions to serve your community and country, this is the best place to start – at branch level.
At the Branch meeting held on Monday 17 October 2016, it was decided that Branch needed to identify its priorities for the year ahead and to chart a course of action to implement these priorities. It was agreed that this Working Party be formed to report back to Branch with its recommendations. It is important not to see these priorities and recommendations as exclusive or ‘stand alone’, but, as related, each enhancing the other.
After a wide ranging discussion the Working Party identified several priorities for the year ahead.
It was recognised that there is a need to improve membership involvement in Branch particularly among young members. There is a need to make Branch relevant and meaningful to members. The emphasis should be on improved communication, raising awareness of how the Labour Party works and developing better understanding of the needs of members. To develop these priorities the Working Party recommends:
- Developing a Branch Facebook group. This would allow members instant contact with Branch and each other. It provides an opportunity for them to flag up issues they wish Branch to address and provides access for debate.
- Organising a ‘Meet and Greet’ event for mid-January. This would be an informal event allowing members new and old to get to know each other.
- Developing an electronic pack for members. This would include details of the Branch, How the Labour Party Works, the rights and responsibilities of members, the relationship between Branch and Councillors and how members can influence policy, both locally and nationally. This will be a useful reference for members new and old.
- Branch needs to explore and develop a programme of training and awareness raising among the membership. Initially, this would involve inviting speakers to Branch meetings raising awareness of specific issues.
- The development of a Branch Youth Secretary. This position, held by a young person, would be to highlight issues of young Branch members, improve participation of young people in Branch and increase the membership of young people in Branch.
- The inclusion of an Agenda item ‘Political Issues’ at each Branch meeting. This is to allow the emphasis at meetings to be on both local and national issues of concern.
- The deferring of written Councillors reports until after Christmas. This would be to allow Branch to focus on developing its priorities and course of action in the coming months.
ii Other Branches
There was a recognition that Kingstone Branch cannot operate in isolation. There is a need to develop links with other Branches, both inside Barnsley Central and outside. This would not only provide an opportunity to share experiences and issues of concern, but allow Branches to share ideas of ‘Best Practise’. Why re-invent the wheel? It is recommended:
- Initially, links with other Branches within Barnsley Central be explored and developed.
- Explore ways in which links to Branches outside of Barnsley central can be developed.
iii Local Campaigns/Community Groups
It was felt that there is a need to develop closer contact and links with local campaigns and community groups. It was noted that many members are already involved with these groups. It was recognised that this could be mutually beneficial in terms of awareness raising and campaign support. It is recommended:
- Closer links be developed with local campaign groups ie Barnsley Save Our NHS, Barnsley Anti-Fracking and Barnsley Momentum.
- Closer links be developed with local community groups
As always there is a need for Branch to have sufficient funds to carry out its activities and provide support for Councillors at election time. It was recognised that for Branch to be more ambitious in its activities a greater effort needs to be made with regards to fundraising. This should not just include social events, but also include donations from supporters, unions and campaign groups. It is recommended:
- A Fundraising Officer post be created. Their role would be to develop a fundraising programme and develop a group of members to assist with fundraising.
The Working Party has produced this report and its recommendations for consideration at the next Branch meeting. Even if members cannot make the next Branch Meeting, we urge you to make any comments you wish on the report. These will be taken into consideration when the final recommendations are agreed by Branch.
Once priorities and recommendations are agreed, Branch will evaluate and monitor progress on a regular basis and report back to members.
We hope the report stimulates debate and look forward to your comments.