There are three or more key posts that should be filled for a branch or Party Council to operate effectively – Chair, Secretary, Treasurer (or a Secretary/Treasurer).

These office holders form a core team that helps the party work effectively, and are the basis of the Party Council (or branch) Executive, should it have one. These officers should work together to create an annual development plan that ensures the party or branch is a dynamic and campaigning force in the Labour and co-operative movements and wider community. The party council officers also play a key role in liaising with the local branches and their officers.

It is possible to change the names of these posts, or to redefine what they do.  For example, the Chair need not chair all of the meetings.  The Secretary may not be the one who takes the notes of the meetings.  Both of these tasks can be shared with other members or rotated.

There will be a number of other roles that can assist the party’s development e.g. membership officer, assistant secretary, campaigns officer, education officer, co-operative liaison Officer, youth officer, equality officer.  You should also bring other people into the branch or Party Council team for specific tasks or campaigns to make the best use of the skills and enthusiasm of the members – there doesn’t need to be a previous job title or vacancy to do this.

Importantly, do ensure that you have a succession plan for key roles and that you include and engage as many members as you can in the work and the decisions of the branch and party.  Whilst experience is valuable, it isn’t sustainable for a branch or party council to be reliant on the same two or three individuals over a long period of time.

Party Council Secretary – duties

The Party Council secretary has a key role to play in supporting the chair in the leadership of the party. S/he will usually be the person who:

  • Convenes meetings and circulate the agenda
  • Ensures that actions decided are followed through
  • (with the other officers) drafts the annual development plan
  • Liaises with branches on campaigns and activity
  • Liaises with local CLPs on delegates and selections
  • Ensures that the local Party participates fully in the work of the Party nationally e.g by organising delegates for Annual Conference, contributing to the policy process
  • Ensures that the Party’s rules and procedures are followed on recruitment, selections, discipline, conduct of meetings etc,– see Rule Book

Your key sources of information will be the monthly Officer Support Mailing, which will remind you of forthcoming tasks and deadlines, and the Rule Book.  For anything that is not in the Officer Support Handbook or Mailings or Rule Book or that you don’t understand, the Party Support Team are here to help.

The Party Council secretary should ensure the local party is:

  • Keeping in contact with branches through a regular branch mailing
  • Producing and keeping an up-to-date Party Council directory with details of Party Council and branch officers, delegates to the Party Council and regional advisory committee, and delegates to the Labour Party and other bodies
  • Drafting and implementing an annual development plan to promote the Party’s policies and campaigns and recruit members.
  • Affiliated to all Constituency Labour Parties in its area, working with branch secretaries to nominate delegates, submit motions, influence local Labour policy and recruit members to the Co-operative Party. NB the affiliation fee for all CLPs is now paid centrally by Head Office and recharged to local parties.
  • Seeking and supporting co-operators to stand for elected office and managing parliamentary and councillor selections in the area in accordance with the rule book.
  • Working closely with your local Labour and Co-operative MPs, councillors, MSPs or AMs or candidates
  • Working closely with local Co-operative Societies and other co-ops and mutuals in the area.
  • Taking part in national campaigns, sending delegates to Annual Conference and submitting policy

When preparing for meetings the Party Council secretary should:

  • Plan the agenda with the chair, checking anything from the Officer Support Mailing, previous actions agreed and the development or campaign plan that should be included
  • Circulate papers for Party Council meetings to delegates
  • Prepare for the executive committee, where a Party Council has one
  • Select items that require a committee decision only, circulating other items in a correspondence file
  • Prioritise party business including head office and regional communications and matters affecting branches and the local party

Following meetings the Party Council secretary should:

  • Produce concise action orientated minutes
  • Communicate relevant items to branches

Useful to note –

Head Office issues a lot of e-mails to members, and especially to officers. The monthly Officer Support Mailing (OSM) is intended to consolidate these, highlighting important information you may have missed and drawing attention to tasks and deadlines.  Please check the OSM before each Party Council meeting.