Liverpool: The Next Generation

All the political parties that promote equality in politics on Liverpool City Council joined forces with OBV to tackle the under-presentation of Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in the council chamber.

A city with just one of its 90 councillors from a Black and minority ethnic group, means that the city's elected members are not representative of the area's diverse communities. This reflects research nationally which shows the average councillor is a white man aged 58.

The programme

Nine dynamic Liverpool residents - seven women and two men - were selected for OBV's award winning Councillor Shadowing Scheme to learn about the roles and responsibilities of a councillor.

Each shadow was assigned to an elected member from the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Liberal Party's and followed them for the next six months.


The shadows learned about the council, the life of a local councillor and all aspects of its decision making process. They attended  constituency surgeries and observed council meetings, such as working groups and select committees.

Shadow Councillor Nathalie Nicholas, paired with Cllr Steve Radford said: "I applied for the scheme as it provided me with an opportunity to learn about the political system. My goal is to be able to make a positive change in the community in time to come."

The Shadow Councillors scheme was originally piloted in Bristol in 2006, and has quadrupled the number of Black and minority ethnic councillors in the city from one to four.

Participants also acted as community ambassadors, holding community meetings to demystify the role of councillors and encouraging others to become active in civic life.

Liverpool's only current Black and minority ethnic councillor, Anna Rothery, a graduate of the Operation Black Vote national MP shadowing scheme said: "I very much welcomed this initiative. It is a sad indictment that I am the only Black representative out of 90 councillors, particularly when the Black and minority ethnic community makes up over 8.2% of the population and we have one of the oldest Black communities in Europe, spanning 400 years."

Francine Fernandes, Head of Shadowing Schemes for Operation Black Vote, said: "Liverpool City Council has demonstrated its commitment for BME communities to have a greater say in how their lives are governed with the adoption of this unique scheme. The project is designed to demystify the role of councillors and open up the process to allow a greater diversity and representation of local interests and concerns. We are convinced that this scheme will produce the next generation of BME leaders, benefiting all of Liverpool's diverse communities.”