Advice & Guidance
Advice and guidance
Celebrating creativity and innovation
Recognition of the 'sectors' professionalism
Formed by Parish Councils --- Run for Parish Councils --- Delivering to Parish Councils
The Gloucestershire Association of Parish and Town Councils (GAPTC) is a not for profit membership organisation, representing, training and advising the parish and town councils of Gloucestershire, who form the grass roots tier (or first level) of local government in England.
GAPTC offer members a resource of vital, operational information and facilitate communication at all levels of the parish network - district, county, regional and national.
As a membership association we are unable to deal with queries from the public, but we are happy to make general information available through this website, which helps to increase understanding and awareness about the sector.
Meeting with local government minister
· Last week the NALC chairman Cllr Sue Baxter, policy adviser Andrew Tubb and Jonathon Owen had a meeting with local government minister, Marcus Jones MP to discuss parish precepts.
· The minister was updated on steps taken since December's welcome decision not to extend referendum principles, to encourage councils to be financially transparent, pro-actively engage with residents on budget proposals and explore the use of other revenue streams in addition to raising the precept. More »
· Many parishes have informed NALC that they are actively engaging residents in budgeting process, take-up up of the Transparency Fund is good with more and more councils publishing financial information online. While Andrew's recent survey shows 60% of parishes were actively using other revenue streams to support additional expenditure, rising external costs driven by greater involvement of parishes in delivering crucial services (from building dementia friendly communities to embracing neighbourhood planning) as well as taking over of discretionary services previously provided by principal councils (which local residents wanted to see continue!) are continuing to place pressure on precepts.
· NALC advised the minister that ensuring effective engagement across the sector would take time, as would supporting councils to maximize other income streams, and he was asked to support this and help embed changes by giving the sector a period of certainty through a multi-year deal not to extend referenda principles. He noted that parishes were increasingly becoming involved in new services, which he welcomed, however he indicated that high precept increases without proper consultation and engagement led to resident complaints to MPs. He indicated that a technical consultation on the local government finance settlement would be published and he would welcome continuing evidence on how the sector was working to address the current financial challenge. The 2018-19 Local Government Finance Settlement Technical Consultation was subsequently published last week and NALC will issuing further information on it this week.
· Sue re-iterated it would take time to fully embed good practice across the sector and the necessity to work with the Government to deliver this.
· A few key points from subsequent discussions with civil servants: DCLG was planning to introduce the new parish polls provisions which NALC had campaigned for in Spring next year; work was underway to find an opportunity for legislation enabling principal councils to provide discretional rate relief for public conveniences (though NALC will continue to press for mandatory relief and Lord Lytton raised this issue in a parliamentary debate last week); the opportunity for local councils to engage with their principal councils to be included in applications for the 2018/19 business rates retention pilots – if anyone is exploring this with their upper tier colleagues NALC would be interested to know more and assist.
·The Executive Committee met last Tuesday and in advance of the draft minutes being available here is a brief summary: the Committee agreed terms of reference for NALC's new committees as well as proposals on how councillors could get involved in the work of county associations and NALC; councilors noted an unqualified annual report from the external auditors who indicated that NALCs finances were sound; a strategic statement of intent with the Society of Local Council Clerks was endorsed and NALC will be sharing more information on this shortly as it commits to developing a strong and effective partnership to support clerks, councillors and councils to deliver for their communities; the Committee agreed to recommend two motions to NALC's AGM in October, the first proposing minor constitutional changes to effect recent decisions by National Council on the committee structure and the second from FEMALC proposing a service level agreement between county associations and NALC; the Committee also met with colleagues from the new insurance partners BHIB to discuss developing the relationship and the needs of councils and county associations.
· NALC hosted the second meeting of the Diversity Commission, here are a few highlights: Andrew Fazeley from the Fawcett Society introduced their 'Does Local Government Work for Women?' report, published in July 2017, which highlighted the real problem engaging women in local government and things need to change in order to get a fair gender balance in local government; the report's recommendations aimed at helping solve the issues faced by women in town halls were supported by the Commission; agreement to develop a Diversity Pledge aimed at local councils and county associations as well as a model diversity policy; further engagement with other organisations who are promoting diversity; the Commission discussed and agreed content for the Diversity Commission web page, a 'Tell us what you think' call for evidence to for local county associations to share their experiences of what has worked well/less well and barriers to increasing diversity, and a national census of all local councillors which would be launched at the annual conference.
Improvement and development board
·The Improvement and Development Board met last week at NALC, here are some key points: an extensive session on poor performance including discussions on taking forward the chapter in the strategy on this could be defined and tackled in the sector, it was agreed to undertake further work and develop proposals for consideration at the next meeting; the Board noted work on training for responsible financial officers had been delayed; updated statistics on take up of the Local Council Award Scheme, CiLCA and publications such as the Good Councillor Guides were welcomed, along with a more concrete assessment of the number of 'qualified clerks' still active in the sector; the next meeting would again focus on poor performance as well the Local Council Award Scheme.
· The NALC chairman Cllr Sue Baxter is the star of the 'In Conversation' feature' and talks all things local council related; the new insurance broker in town – BHIB – explain what they what can offer to local councils; the chairman of NALC's Policy Committee outlines the key thoughts and objectives behind the emerging NALC prospectus and future campaign themes; award-winning Condover Parish Council on their successful plan to bring affordable housing to the area; a review of the recent work of NALC's Smaller Councils' Committee; Cllr Jane Colville of Ashton Hayes Parish Council reflects on her time as a council chairman; help on getting your council's finances in order in our finance special; pointers from one parish council on how to put in place a flooding prevention and emergency plan, top tips on getting your message across when attending a planning inquiry; how to help your local community protect and preserve its valuable open spaces; and 'The Last Word' from The Guardian professional networks editor Jane Dudman who asks if local councils really matter to the government. » Less
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:14 by Alison Robinson
·The NALC Finance Committee met on Tuesday: the Committee considered the budget for 2018/19, management accounts for the first quarter and audited accounts for the year to 31 March; the committee clarified any points as necessary and endorsed the terms of reference for the new Finance and Scrutiny Committee; the external auditors presented their annual report and accounts which were unqualified, they confirmed NALC was in a healthy financial position with a strong cash position and robust balance sheet. More »
Star Councils 2017 long list announced
·Last week NALC announced the long list for the prestigious Star Councils 2017. Huge thanks to everyone who applied across the 6 categories and congratulations to the those entries who have made it this far. The judges now have the difficult and unenviable task of assessing the remaining 50 entries and whittling them down to just 3 finalists in each category before the winner is announced at the NALC annual conference dinner on 30 October.
Join our Larger Councils' Committee
·NALC are looking for councillors and clerks to get involved in NALC by putting themselves forward for election to the Larger Councils' Committee. The Committee plays an important role in our governance structure as the voice of larger councils, championing their interests as well as shaping and overseeing our work and support. Membership of the committee includes councillors from the National Council plus councillors and clerks from larger councils through direct election. So if you're from a larger council and want to have a say on and influence NALC policy and the support we provide to larger councils, please apply!
Partnership with BHIB
·NALC have agreed a new partnership with insurance brokers BHIB to provide tailor made support and protection for local councils and communities. BHIB is the preferred partner of Aviva, the long-standing insurance provider in the local council sector, and chosen to replace Aon. Aviva has confirmed their ongoing support and involvement with NALC and has endorsed and confirmed their confidence in BHIB. In the current climate and with local councils providing an ever growing range of services it is more important than ever to have sector experts can be relied on and who can support local councils endeavours.
Create a Council campaign networking event
· This year's NALC annual conference will include a networking event to bring together local people and groups from right across the country who are in the process of setting up a new parish council. This important national get together – which is being delivered in partnership with the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes county association and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund – gives these campaigns the space and opportunity to hear and learn from each other, share top tips and practical advice as well as informing our ongoing and future work.
Konichiwa parish councils
·And finally for many years there has been considerable interest from Japan in UK local government and parish councils in particular. Alert students among the regular attendees of the NALC Larger Councils Conference will have noticed the consistent presence of senior officials from the Japan Local Government Centre. Such interest continued this week as a delegation of academics from Japan visited March Town Council in Cambridgeshire and Queen's Park Community Council in London before a final stop at NALC to hear more about NALC's work. » Less
Fri, 08 Sep 2017 14:37 by Alison Robinson
From Monday 4 September, families are being asked for their input on ideas to develop school nursing and health visiting services in the county.
Working together with local provider, Gloucestershire Care Services, the county council is bringing together health visiting and school nursing into a single service for all children aged 0-19 and their families.
As part of this work, there are opportunities to make changes so that the services work better for people. The council wants to hear from parents to be, parents, guardians and young people in particular about what the proposals mean for them. More »
There are five topics in the survey:
- Two year old health check – helping more parents access the health check
- Baby hubs – helping parents meet other parents and learn from each other
- School nursing hubs – bringing school nursing to more parents, children and young people in the county
- One to one support – designing a consistent approach to common issues
- Hearing screening – helping hearing problems to be identified earlier
Your support in promoting the survey is much appreciated. Please keep an eye out for social media and share.
More information and the survey is available to at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/phn and a dedicated young people's survey is at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/phnyouth . It is open from 4 September to 19 November.
Paper copies of the survey will be available from libraries, GP surgeries and children's centres.
Public consultation events will be held at the following locations from 10am to 3pm:
- Gloucester, city centre on the cross – 13 September
- Cirencester, Market Place – 19 September
- Coleford, Clock Tower roundabout – 5 October
- Cheltenham, town centre High Street – 11 October
- Stroud, Kings Street – 16 October
Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:55 by Alison Robinson