New research conducted by National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Smaller Councils' Committee shows that it is not just counties and districts that are sharing services and saving money. Many of England's smallest parish councils – often with less than 6,000 electors - are doing so too and improving services as a result. This trend is becoming increasingly important as those councils acquire new services and responsibilities from upper tier councils.
NALC's research has identified 12 case studies of smaller councils coming together to provide services ranging from better broadband to youth services, from community speed watch to economic development. By working together, often with their principal authorities, they can provide efficient services and fill the vacuum left by public sector cuts.
These examples include:
The Bridport Local Area Partnership between Bridport Town Council and ten neighbouring parishes which has looked at affordable housing, set up a development trust to bring facilities back into community use and set up a community orchard.
Road safety schemes in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Hampshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire
Nine councils coming together in Worcestershire to introduce faster broadband
Joint contracts for highways maintenance in Essex, "lengthsman" schemes to maintain roads in Somerset and Nottinghamshire
12 councils in Somerset taking action together to reduce flood risk.
Cllr Ken Browse, chair of NALC, said: "These case studies collected across the country show that even the smallest parish and town councils can work together to provide local services and improve residents' quality of life. I think we will see much more of this in the coming years as principal authorities devolve more services or cease to provide non-statutory services. It is hugely exciting time to be involved in the work of smaller councils who can really make a difference on the ground."