NALC Chief Executive's bulletin
Updated NALC guidance on pre-election publicity
NALC are already receiving a number of queries related to the pre-election period (purdah) prior to the General Election, which started when Parliament was dissolved on 6 November. Although local (parish and town) councils will not be holding elections on 12 December, NALC have reissued our Legal Briefing L01-19 on the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity (this is available in the member's area of the website) and it is recommended that everyone reacquaints themselves with the requirements. While NALC feels that the legal risks to councils around this time are low, there could still be risks related to public perception and local media coverage. So be cautions around any activity or communications relating to the General Election that could be perceived to be political or controversial.
LGA guidance on councillor intimidation
In light of what is likely to be highly charged times in the run-up to the General Election, please reacquaint yourselves with the Local Government Association (LGA) guidance on councillor intimidation. This includes advice and guidance around general safety as well as how to deal with intimidating behaviour towards councillors. While this was written for principal authorities, it is relevant for local councils as well.
Code of conduct for councillors
The Local Government Association (LGA) is developing a new Model Code of Conduct for Councillors. This is in response to the recommendations made in the Committee on Standards in Public Life's report earlier this year, and in response to rising local government concern about the increasing incidence of public, member-to-member and officer/member intimidation and abuse, and overall behavioural standards and expectations in public debate, decision making and engagement. This is part of their programme on civility in public life and they aim to launch a revised code at their annual conference at the end of June 2020. NALC will be contributing to this work to make sure the local council dimension and voice isn't lost, as inevitably the LGA is focussed on principal authorities.
Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance
The Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance met at NALC'S offices on 4 November to consider possible changes to the Practitioners Guide and financial issues raised by local councils and others. The Panel was joined by a representative of the Internal Auditors Forum and agreed to seek to do a major review of the section in the guide covering internal audit next year.
Improvement and Development Board
The Improvement and Development Board met on 6 November for its last meeting of the year, including an interactive session to identify emerging themes and challenges for local councils, and how the Board could integrate these themes in its agenda in the near future. Suggestions included continuing to share best practice including on health and wellbeing, seek training opportunities and implementing environmental issues within the Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS) criteria. The Board also received updates on improvement and development initiatives including LCAS, with nearly 400 councils accredited and over 300 working towards accreditation, and the Certificate in Local Council Administration, noting 752 certificates have been awarded since the 2015 review.
Last week the Government published the prospectus for the Towns Fund which provides an investment of up to £25 million for 100 places to increase economic growth with a focus on regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, skills and culture. Unfortunately the government has not decided to allow our councils to be the lead body for applications and the Town Deal Board as the most local tier of government in around a third of the 100 selected areas.
Direct Information Service (DIS)
This week we published DIS 950 which includes the latest news from our sector delivered directly to your inbox. DIS is a fortnightly publication that will keep you up-to-date with the latest news from the sector, round-up of government statements and consultations, planning, rural affairs, funding opportunities, events, job vacancies and a recap of NALC's biggest stories. To find out more about DIS and to subscribe please visit: www.nalc.gov.uk/dis
Street Design Awards
The Street Design Awards 2020, organised by Local Government News magazine, which all tiers of local government are eligible to enter. This year there are 5 categories to the competition: Urban Green Space; Children's Play; Public Lighting; Active; and Active Travel (a new category this year). Deadline for entries is 28 February 2020, and all schemes must have been completed within two years of entering the awards. More information and including how to submit your entry is here.
The full text of the speech by the chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr James Jamieson, is now on the Annual Conference webpage in the presentations tab where you can also find other speaker presentations slides. And a number of photographs of the visit to the conference by The Princess Royal are Instagram.
Posted: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:51 by Alison Robinson