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150 Points of Light shines spotlight on parish power

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An electric car club, a youth centre, a children’s pre-school, a local bus service, providing counselling support and helping young people into work are among examples of activity by local councils in a new document developed by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

NALC’s 150 Points of Light compendium of practice includes an extensive range of case studies, magazine and journal articles as well as news stories.

The compendium was researched and compiled by Jessica Lancod-Frost, NALC's policy and development team's policy intern, as part of NALC’s Create a Council campaign to promote and support the extension of local democracy across England especially in urban areas.

In July 2015, 70% of residents in Sutton Coldfield backed the establishment of a new town council to run local services and it was reported at the time other Birmingham districts may follow. Earlier this year councillors from Birmingham City Council asked NALC to provide examples of local council activity to inform their own discussions about models of community empowerment and a copy of the report was sent to them this week.

Nearly 100 other communities across England are currently in the process of campaigning for a new local council to give people a voice and improve the local area.

Jessica Lancod-Frost, policy intern, NALC said: “I always knew parish and town councils did a lot of good work for their community and local people, but this project really opened my eyes to the creative and innovative services they are now delivering. In particular I’ve been struck and impressed by the way parishes have stepped up the mark to take on or deliver new services; I hope these examples illustrate the solutions parishes can provide and why more communities should go down this route of setting one up.”

Cllr Rob Pocock, Sutton Vesey Ward on Birmingham City Council, commented: "NALC have done an excellent job in drawing together such an impressive catalogue of successful achievements that town and parish councils have brought about across the country. We will certainly draw on this in looking at the further extension of the innovative urban extension of this form of local democratic governance more widely across our city.”

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC added: “NALC’s new 150 Points of Light compendium really does underscore why England’s 10,000 local councils are perfectly placed to be the front line in rebuilding community cohesion in divided Britain, and addressing the issues of austerity and local public service delivery. The growing range of activities now being carried out by local councils is simply astounding – such ‘ultra-localism’ and additional investment in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities offers a really powerful way to transform local communities and improve local services.”

Read 150 Points of Light case studies

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