NALC update - from Jonathan Owen (Chief Executive)

Meetings with Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

·While it's obviously important for us to develop our relationship with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), of equal importance is extending our reach across government to forge links with other departments and this is among the objectives of our current advocacy work. So NALC are pleased to provide a brief update on two recent meetings with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whose secretary of state Greg Clark MP joined in the last reshuffle from the same role at DCLG.

·The first was with the regulatory delivery team who visited the NALC stand at the Local Government Association conference last month and wanted to find out more about NALC and local councils. The focus of their work is with principal councils and other business support organisation like the FSB, The Chambers, Growth Hubs and LEPS. NALC were able to provide an overview of developments in the sector including the work of local councils in supporting businesses and economic development, sharing ideas on how NALC and councils might be able to promote the support on offer to councils and businesses such as through our communications channels and conferences.

·Our second was with the civil nuclear and resilience directorate and Radioactive Waste Management to discuss work they are doing to take forward the 2014 Implementing Geological Disposal white paper and their follow up call for evidence in 2015, which NALC responded to, on how communities should be involved in the siting process for a Geological Disposal Facility. A national policy statement and consultation was expected in the Spring – but impacted by other things going on in government (!) – and is now likely to happen in the Autumn and the department is keen to engage closely with the sector on its proposals.

·Watch this space for more information on both of these policy areas, including a possible speech from Greg Clark MP as we have invited him to be a keynote speaker at the larger councils conference on 13 December 2017!

NALC and SLCC senior leadership teams meet

The Chairs and Vice-chairs of NALC and SLCC had a productive meeting on 17 August and agreed to work up a strategic statement of intent to forge a strong and effective partnership to support clerks, councillors and councils deliver for their communities. This statement would be worked up over the coming weeks for consideration by each body. The meeting also expressed concerns about the apparent increase in bullying in the sector and would work together to encourage better relationships and lobby government for stronger sanctions. The meeting was pleased with the progress made jointly in setting up the SAAA which had saved the sector millions of pounds through collective procurement of external audit. The meeting noted the need to help the sector prepare for the new data protection regulations and the importance of encouraging councils to engage with communities on budget decisions to resist the imposition of referendum principles.

General Data Protection Regulations

Legal Briefing L05 -17 – "General Data Protection Regulation - summary of main provisions" has been published. This new briefing provides a summary of the provisions in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the changes in law being introduced by General Data Protection Regulation which are relevant to councils.

NALC met with the senior servant leading on this matter at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and impressed upon him the importance of understanding the challenges of implementing these new arrangements in such a diverse sector. He noted that the sector had not featured prominently in discussion of these regulations and agreed to raise the issue with the Information Commissioner and to include the sector in the discussions of communications plans for public authorities. NALC would also meet again in the Autumn and brief parliamentarians when the Bill enters Parliament.

Scrutiny Panel

NALC's scrutiny panel (Cllrs Peter Davey, Essex; Mike Drew, Avon; and Keith Stevens, E. Sussex) met on 16 August and looked at cash flow and banking issues, the administration of the transparency fund and considered tenders for NALC's external auditors. No major issues were identified and a report would be made to the Finance Committee including recommending an external audit supplier.

Referendum principles

You will be interested to hear that NALC's Chairman, Sue Baxter (Worcestershire) has been invited to discuss this issue by Minister Marcus Jones on Wednesday 13 September at 10am. NALC will continue to press the case forcefully using evidence provided by many of you to Andrew Tubb's recent survey which has received over 700 replies. If anyone who has not responded to that survey has a particularly good example of councils engaging effectively or innovatively with communities and residents on precept increases then please e-mail nalc@nalc.gov.uk

150 Points of Light

NALC have sent 150 case studies to Birmingham City Council to encourage the creation of more parish and town councils in England's second city! Our '150 Points of Light' document is a compendium of case studies, articles and news stories which shines a spotlight on the vast array of activities carried out by our councils – from an electric car clubs to a pre-school learning centre to projects helping people get into employment. Telling the story of the brilliant things local councils do on a regular basis remains an important part of the work at NALC.

#OurDay 2017

And finally a date for your diary as this year's #OurDay will take place on 21 November. Run by our colleagues at the Local Government Association, #OurDay is an annual tweetathon that gives everyone who works or volunteers in local public services the chance to share their stories of how they improve the quality of life of residents. Last year the campaign trended nationally at number one and reached over 20 million people. Further information on how you and your council can take part will be circulated in due course, but in the meantime if you want to register your interest please email ben.murray@nalc.gov.u

Posted: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:52 by Alison Robinson

Tags: Bullying, Data Protection Regulations, Meetings with Government, NALC, National Association for Local Councils, News, Referendum Principles, SAAA, SLCC, Scrutiny Panel