“Let ‘em ‘ave it”, came the response to a suggestion I put to an activist over whether we should start directly lobbying local councils. Everyone I spoke to was furious when councillors in Bournemouth increased their pay in the same year they hiked Council Tax by 4.9%. Something had to be done, we had to let these politicians know how wrong they were. So I set at finding the contact details for all the councillors and mobilised the TPA supporter base to lobby them to vote against their own pay deal. Thus began our lobbying campaign.
Grassroots lobbying has become an effective way of mobilising the whole supporter base to oppose a move made by a specific council or public body, concentrating our collective voice onto 30 or so local politicians. Some might doubt its effectiveness at first, but these responses we received from our first lobbying campaign in Bournemouth demonstrated that we are winning councillors over in these campaigns and that we clearly made our point:
“I abstained last night as I have problems with the allowances paid to ALL Councillors and I will probably not take the additions anyway.”
- Cllr Sue Anderson
“I voted against the rise as did my colleagues.”
- Cllr Richard Smith
“I have casework where sick elderly people can either get no help at all, or are having to pay somewhat exorbitant rates for such, and I find it hard to accept that any "rises" over and above inflation are appropriate when these sort of problems exist. This is a purely personal view and one which will no doubt cause trouble for me!”
- Cllr Basil Ratcliffe
The next lobbying campaign - against Sutton Council handing their senior officers £10,000 more in salaries - achieved great coverage in the local Sutton newspapers, again showing how our lobbying campaigns are getting wider public attention. Other recent lobbying campaigns came in response to Poole Council spying on families and an attempt to prevent Suffolk County Council employing a new Chief Executive costing taxpayers £220,000.
We need your help with this campaign. It takes a long time to compile the contact details of all the councillors in any one council, especially as time is short during lobbying campaigns. You can help us by:
- Compiling an excel database of your councillors email and telephone contact numbers and sending it into us.
- Keeping an eye on what your council are up to and letting us know ASAP so we have enough time to organise and lobby against a tax rise or politicians cashing in on elected office.
- Recruiting your friends and neighbours to the TaxPayers’ Alliance so we can send thousands of emails and make thousands of calls for lower taxes.