ENABLING PARISH & TOWN COUNCILS IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE SINCE 1939

NALC Chief Executive's bulletin

NALC young people event and young councillors network

How to get young people involved in local councils was the title of this week's brilliant sold out NALC event which heard from Cllr Katy Brooks, Pembury Parish Council, Cllr Chelsey Jay, Witham Town Council and Cllr Ollie Tucker, Axminster Town Council. All three shared really practical tips and advice on how to engage with young people in our communities. Using social media was among the suggestions, and during the event itself, one attendee set up a Facebook group to help local councils engage with young people through youth councils. The recording of the event will be available on the NALC website from next week, and a reminder that recordings from several other events are also available. At the event we also launched the NALC National Network: Young Councillors, which is aimed at connecting young councillors from across the country – you can register your interest at policycomms@nalc.gov.uk and details of its inaugural meeting will be available shortly.

Civility in public life

The second meeting of the working group on civility in public life project took place on 24 May and was attended by our chair, Cllr Sue Baxter, vice-chair (member services), Cllr Mike Drew, and acting head of member services, Jane Moore. They met with colleagues from the Society of Local Council Clerks, county associations and One Voice Wales to continue to develop proposals and priorities.

Jonathon Owen highlighted the work of this group at an online event organised by their partners CCLA on healthy workplaces/civility in public life, which was attended by 60 delegates. A recording of the event will be available shortly, but here are a few key points:

  • Communities and place have never been more central to the future wellbeing of the country and which provides a unique opportunity for our sector. But we must place good governance, healthy workplaces and kindness at the centre of all we do.
  • Amy Browne, CCLA, stressed the importance of good mental health in the workplace as mental health is one of the World Economic Forum's highest global risks, and 57% of lost working days can be attributed to poor mental health.
  • And Louise Smith, Local Government Association (LGA), provided some top tips for councillors on handling online abuse and promoting digital citizenship, which you may find useful, and also speaking about their wider work on civility, including the new national model code of conduct which we are linking in to.

LCR magazine Issue 2

Please keep an eye out for the latest edition of LCR magazine, which is due to drop on your doorsteps in the next few days. There's plenty to read in this issue, including a special section on raising funding and how you can use it to benefit your community. Other helpful advice comes from articles on insurance information for new clerks, low-interest rates, cyber-security protection, how to improve your areas' carbon footprint and why almshouses are a good fit for local communities. Also, take a look at page 9, where you can read about the work NALC are doing on civility in the sector. LCR page on the NALC website.

Parish precept data

At the end of March, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published headline data on council tax statistics. Last week they published detailed information on local precepting authorities, which sets out precept, tax base and Band D council tax rate for all local councils, charter trustees and temples of London for the 2021/22 financial year. Here's a few headlines from the analysis of this data:

  • total precepts raised by all local councils is £616,591,654, an increase of £21,765,848
  • the number of local councils levying a precept is 8,861, a decrease of eight from last year
  • 70 local councils now raise a precept of over £1 million, four more than last year
  • Seven new local councils have been created in previously unparished areas, including Northampton Town Council in West Northamptonshire, which has set a precept for its first year of £1,775,500
  • the number of councils increasing their Band D tax rate by 50% or more stands at 109, a reduction of 78 since 2021/22

Pay offer

Further to the National Employers' pay offer to the National Joint Council (NJC) Unions in respect of staff covered by the local government services NJC (the Green Book) of an increase of 1.5% on all NJC pay points 1 and above with effect from 1 April 2021, the trade unions have written to the National Employers to reject the pay offer and have asked for urgent talks. The employers have said they will consider the letter and respond in due course.

Using digital tools to improve efficiency and communications

Do check out the latest blogpost from Cloudy IT on how local councils are using digital tools such as Teams and Microsoft Office 365 to improve efficiency and communication with their communities.

Roundtable on the rural economy and levelling up

You might recall earlier in the year, the influential think tank Onward proposed giving every local area the 'right to self-government' through a parish or town council in their Policies of Belonging report. NALC attended the roundtable event on 25 May along with other national organisations and MPs to discuss the rural economy and levelling up. Key issues were the importance of fast broadband, effective rural proofing and a stronger voice for rural areas. The role of local councils was also highlighted, along with the need to fully mobilise their potential.

NALC climate change task and finish group

The NALC task and finish group on climate change met this week. Issues discussed included the Environment Bill, planning and sustainability, our October event on climate change, and the analysis of our recent survey. If you haven't already, take a look at our climate change webpage on the NALC website for inspiration on how councils are taking action and a wealth of other information and resources.

All-Party Parliamentary Group on local democracy

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on local democracy, which NALC provides the secretariat and other support to, held its annual general meeting on 26 September. Eddie Hughes MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing, attended the start of the meeting and said:

  • he was pleased to attend on behalf of the minister Luke Hall MP and would relay back to him and other ministers
  • the Group had a great track record of working with successive governments
  • what was very important during the pandemic has been the benefit of place-based leadership, with local councils delivering leadership when we needed the most
  • the levelling up white paper later in the year will set out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods across the country recovering from the pandemic
  • the government remains committed to devolving power to people in places across the country, plans for the devolution white paper, including strengthening local accountable leadership and further devolution, will now be included in the levelling up white paper
  • restructuring of local government will continue to follow a locally-led approach
  • questions to the minister were on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, housing and neighbourhood planning

Richard Holden MP and Cherilyn Mackrory MP were re-elected as co-chairs, and both thanked NALC for its excellent secretariat to the Group and for supporting councils along with the county associations. The Earl of Lytton and Karen Buck MP were re-elected, and Baroness Scott of Needham Market and Duncan Baker MP were welcomed as new vice-chairs. Our chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, spoke to share some reflections on the last year covering parishes stepping up during the pandemic, toilet tax campaign, remote meetings, standards and building capacity. The work programme for the year would include remote meetings, levelling up and promoting the sector in the white paper, the Planning Bill and raising the profile of the sector wherever possible.

Posted: Fri, 28 May 2021 17:39 by Alison Robinson

Tags: All-Party Parliamentary Group on local democracy, Civility in public life, Climate Change task and finish group, NALC, communication tools, news, parish precept data, pay offer, rural economy and levelling up, young councillors