The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has today launched its Local Council Award Scheme, supported by the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) and the Local Government Association (LGA) and developed following consultation with county associations and NALC's member councils.
The national body, which represents the interests of 9,000 local town, parish and community councils and their 80,000 local councillors in England, has launched the scheme to celebrate the successes of the very best local councils and provide a benchmark to ensure they can improve and develop and meet their full potential.
Local councils are at the heart of their communities; giving neighbourhoods a voice and making people more involved in the decisions that affect them.
Over 15 million people (35% of the population) live in the communities served by them and it is the ambition of local councils to serve them as best they can, to make a real difference to the lives of the people at a local level.
The new scheme will celebrate the successes of the very best local councils, and provide a framework to support all local councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. It encourages progression by including three award levels: Foundation, Quality and Quality Gold, and offers councils the opportunity to show that they meet the standards set by the sector, assessed by their peers, and to put in place the conditions for continued improvement.
Chairman of NALC, Cllr Ken Browse, said: "It is only through the sector working together, to share best practice, drive up standards and support those who are committed to improving their offer to their communities, that individual councils and the sector as a whole will reach its full potential. I'm excited to see this new scheme launch and we have been delighted with the results of last year's pilot."
Danbury Parish Council was one of the many councils that participated in the pilot.
Chair of the council, Cllr Stuart Berlyn, said: "It is great to see the opportunity available to councils large or small to participate in a much improved scheme. Danbury Parish Council being the first in the Country to achieve Quality Gold. The work involved has led to the Council having up to date policies and procedures allowing transparency and permitting residents of the village to have confidence in their Parish Council."
Chair of West Bergholt Parish Council, Cllr John Gili-Ross, who also took part in the pilot said: "Achieving the foundation level is very satisfying from a councillors perspective, but our community deserves a "Quality Gold" Council and it is our objective to give them one in 2015."
The Local Council Award Scheme launches on 6 January 2015 and any council accredited previously under the Quality Status Scheme can apply for automatic transition to the new Local Council Award Scheme by completing this short form.
All councils are being encouraged by the sector to enter the scheme, with those at the forefront of best practice achieving excellence in governance, community leadership and council development heralded with the auspicious Quality Gold Award.