National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Annual Conference held from 27 October 2015 to 28 October 2015, saw a direction for putting local (parish and town) councils and communities more in control of how their lives are run and public services delivered to them.
NALC further demanded that Government’s devolution plans must include communities, neighbourhoods and parishes.
At the moment the Government’s Devolution Deals are agreements to devolve powers and spending on public services away from Whitehall departments to local areas. These areas are represented by consortiums of local principal (county, district, unitary or borough) authorities, coming together on a county-wide or sub-regional basis.
The devolution genie is well and truly out of the bottle. While these steps are welcome, this next phase of localism is by no means localist enough, nor is it bold enough. Devolution must not stop at the combined authority, county or district level.
Hundreds of delegates from local council and county association areas from around England gathered together to formulate a way forward for the sector to further turn the dreams of localism into a reality.
Marcus Jones MP, department of Communities and Local Government (CLG), minister said: “I’d like to take the opportunity today to thank NALC for your immensely positive role as the national membership body for parish and town councils. You represent the interests of some 9,000 local councils and 80,000 local councillors.
“This government has ambitious plans for a devolution revolution, which include Devolution Deals, but I want to stress that devolution is not just for principal authorities. Parish councils have a key role to play and they should be speaking to their principal councils about opportunities for further powers and functions to be devolved.”
“We believe local people understand the needs of their area best. This is why we have been transferring powers, so people can make more decisions locally and solve their own problems in the creation of strong, attractive and thriving neighbourhoods.“
“Like NALC, we too want the creation of town and parish councils to be an easier process for people that don’t currently don’t live in one; but who know their community would benefit from stronger local democracy in becoming a town or parish council.”
Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr Sir Albert Bore has committed the council to work with the parish councils’ movement to develop local devolution deals within the city. The move follows the decision to create a new local council for Sutton Coldfield, with the potential to localise delivery of many local services.
Cllr Sir Albert Bore, said: “We want to work with the government and with organisations such as NALC to take forward this agenda, as we develop our Future Council vision for 2020. One approach might be to develop devolution deals within the city, unleashing the creativity and ideas in our communities.”
“In 2018 we will reach a watershed in Birmingham’s local government when we move to smaller one or two member wards and a four year election cycle. By then we will have a fully established combined authority and we may also have an elected mayor for the West Midlands.”
“But it’s essential that we also develop a new approach to local democracy and local services at the most local level. That will enable us to put in place a bottom up neighbourhood democracy, unique in urban Britain.”
“So, there are exciting times ahead in Birmingham. We have a vision for a new approach to local government and parish councils can be at the heart of that vision. We are ready to make radical changes and to challenge the old way of doing things. I want Birmingham to remain at the forefront of innovation in local democracy and to regain its global reputation for good local government.”
Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC, said: “We have a real opportunity over this Parliament to build on this and establish local councils as ‘local powerhouses’, complementing the more strategic work of the proposed.
“NALC is really pleased that our members are fully behind us in our three key aims of providing value-for-money services, creating new councils and increasing membership, and giving the sector a strong national voice.”
NALC Annual Conference also saw sessions on:
Improvement and Development