Introduction from the new GAPTC Chairman
Having recently been elected as Chairman of the Executive Committee of GAPTC, I thought that I would write to all member councils to set out how I see GAPTC supporting you in the future. Firstly, however, may I wish all of you a Happy Christmas. This is a very busy time of the year, for families especially, but a very happy time too for most. Having spent many years in the Armed Forces, where periods of family separations come with the territory, I value greatly the chance to get together again with my own family at this time of year. My thoughts go out particularly to those who are separated from their families.
Anyhow, to matters GAPTC. Recently, we sent all of you our strategy for the future. In this message, I want to concentrate on three aspects in particular.
Firstly, we will continue to offer a wide range of training courses. This is of value to both clerks and councillors. We rely on our clerks as our principle source of in-house knowledge on legal matters affecting our councils, so having a professionally trained clerk, backed up by an SLCC award, is of benefit to any council. This is recognised by GAPTC by offering a reduction in membership fees to those councils whose clerk obtains such a qualification. Training for councillors, particularly new and less experienced councillors, is of value to both the individuals concerned and to the council as a whole. It results in a well-trained corps of members better able to act on behalf of those we represent. I commend GAPTC training courses to all member councils.
Secondly, we will continue to lobby national organisations, such as NALC and the government itself, to propose or modify government regulations that have an effect on parish and town councils. One success last year was obtaining a more sensible interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Whereas it was suggested that all local councils should have the trouble and expense of appointing an external Data Protection Officer, we now have a ruling that councils can undertake in-house all the data protection requirements under GDPR. This was achieved by county associations, and GAPTC were vociferous in this, pressing the case to NALC and our MPs.
Thirdly, we will press the government for a fairer deal regarding the de facto responsibilities of parish and town councils. By de facto, I mean those services such as libraries, grass cutting and youth services which, although the responsibility of principal authorities, have fallen victim to cutbacks. Parish and town councils have been forced to pick up responsibility for these services with inadequate financial compensation from those actually responsible. Not only is this unfair, but may be unsustainable in the longer term. We will press, through NALC and our MPs, for a fairer deal for local councils, with responsibility backed up by a better financial settlement. This may well take some time to achieve, but we will keep you updated on progress.
In all that we seek to do, we rely on your input and feedback. Please do let us know what you think, either through your local GAPTC representative on the Executive Committee, or by contacting GAPTC directly. We are your association and exist only to represent and support you.
Again, my very best wishes to you and those close to you at this time of year.
Chairman GAPTC Executive Committee
Posted: Tue, 18 Dec 2018 09:27 by Alison Robinson