Working with councils and local authorities (UK)

Have you worked with your local/county council to get support for your repair group?

@Lorna_Montgomery (Share & Repair, Bath) has a meeting with her council’s waste department this Wednesday and is keen to talk to groups/organisers who already have experience of how these partnerships can work - the potential advantages and pitfalls.

If you have experience of this, what advice would you give to a group just starting down this path?

And are you available to jump into a short Zoom call in the next day or two to share experiences?

(I can then share these as notes here.)

Copying in a number of people who I know/believe have experience around this: @catherine_causley, @CHRIS_MCCARTNEY, @Clare_Seek, @Ian_Barnard, @katie, @Repair_Cafe_Wales

Copying @James_Diamond who has worked with the very high-functioning Hackney Council

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Our experience has been very straightforward! We applied for ward funding to pay for our insurance and a banner.
It helped that the Councillors are very active in getting to know local groups, so they knew us already.

On a basic level our council is also willing to support groups with practical stuff like use of their reprographics dept.

@Lorna_Montgomery I’d love to jump on the call to hear your experience working with the Waste Dept as this is something I’m interested in.


In Portsmouth we’ve worked with the local council…we sold it to them as a great way to help reduce some waste, educate people and create community. We have some of the council’s flyers at our events, they included an advert about us in the mag that goes to all households in the city, and we continue to be in the event lists (when it happens). They also include us in social media coverage from time to time.

Hampshire also offered us funding to help with things (until they realised we were in Portsmouth so didn’t fit their criteria), but the waste contact there was also very supportive and I’ve since put other new Repair Cafes in touch with her.

Happy to chat on a zoom if useful.



@James_Diamond can describe Hackney Fixers’ relationship with Hackney Council much better than I can, but in case he doesn’t get here in time …

Generally the relationship is good, but some points to think about …

Early on, it was difficult, because they only thought in terms of tonnage of waste, not what types of waste are involved, so make sure the conversation is about quality more than quantity.

Also, make sure that they understand that there are other aspects to this, such as community cohesion, and maybe see if you can talk to whoever is responsible for that area.

They may want the council’s name on your events, so be prepared for that and maybe use it as a negotiating tactic.

Having the council’s publicity on-side is definitely useful, so push them hard to get your events on their website, on noticeboards, in the council newspaper, if there is one etc.
Also, try to get editorial coverage, social media from executive and/or political accounts and suchlike, not just event listings.

Councils seem to move extremely slowly and it can be surprisingly complex, because, for example, things often have to be approved by multiple people (maybe in multiple departments), but once you’re in, you’re in and things become a lot easier because you’ve got implicit approval because you’re known to them already.

An example of this halo effect is that HF were given space in libraries to hold pop-up events and, again, that’s a separate department.


Hi, yes as Dave says the council has been very supportive over the years. It started when we went to see the recycling officer before we held our first event in 2013. He “got” what we were aiming to do and invited us to hold our second event alongside a council “give and take”. They have regularly provided publicity, venues, funding and other support for us and as Dave mentioned introduced us to other parts of the council, such as the library service. We are now also involved as community partners in the project to bring Library of Things to Dalston and hope to hold events there when the library can reopen. I think the key was the initial contact and the positive attitude they have to both waste prevention and community cohesion: providing a service that is useful to those who can’t afford to repair or replace. It also helps that it is good publicity for them. If I can help with any questions please ask.

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Thanks everyone for your useful comments. we are very well ties into the BathNES council in varies ways and theyhave already suported printing and came to our events to promote a change inwaste colection. They have also agreed that we can have signs at the Waste Disposal areas advertising ‘Mend don’t End’ and Borrow don’t buy, wghat we are talking about today is how we can use products dumped at the recycling centres. At one point they were happy for us to take a skip away - wow too much for us to handle - but what realistically, and how, can we develop a reciprocal partnership to save items and reuse them?
@Clare_Seek I’m happy to ask for you to join the call its at 2pm - are you free then?
Any further thoughts on the above would be most welcome!

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Sorry sooo many typos - written in haste!

@Lorna_Montgomery, this reminds me of Wastesavers in Wales who operate a “tip shop” in partnership with Newport council. The shop is located at the entrance to the Newport household waste recycling centre and the idea is to rescue and fix up salvageable/repairable items that people deliver for recycling and sell them on for cheap, giving those products a second lease of life. It might be an interesting model to explore.

@Repair_Cafe_Wales, are you in touch with the Wastesavers crew?

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Sorry @Lorna_Montgomery, madness of life took over and I’ve only just gotten to this email inbox.

Obviously I didn’t make the call. The Wales project that James mentions sounds great, and the other thing that springs to mind re save and reuse, would be linked with poverty issues. We have a great project in Portsmouth (that we’re not currently specifically linked with) that collects spare items (furniture, electrical items and more) and gives them to those who are just getting housing for the first time, are asylum seekers with nothing, and need some help starting out. I’ve wondered in the past about linking up with the project, but have timed out so far. The Council are supportive of both our projects, and reducing deprivation is a winner for all. So I’m not suggesting that something exists that matches this, but I do think that tapping into need within your city and helping those with less, and council engagement and possible education things could also come of this. (I’m also reminded of Glasgow’s great pram project…so much stuff in life that we don’t need for a long period of time, especially where children are involved, that could be saved and reused…the key is also how to get recognition of the value in this, rather than shiny new.) With another hat on, I’ve linked with our city’s libraries to start school uniform swap shops, and before COVID were also exploring fancy dress stores (a bit like the library of things, but on a specific topic and attracting children into libraries). Sorry, rambling…happy to chat if it’s of any use.

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