The government's minister for the 'northern powerhouse’, James Wharton MP, will address a cross-party group of MPs and Peers.
Mr Wharton has been invited to speak at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on local democracy by its new chairman, Andrea Jenkyns MP.
Since taking up the role following May's general election Ms Jenkyns has spoken out about the important role of parish and town councils in devolution, using a speech on the Cities and Local Government Reform Bill to promote grassroots local democracy and the greater decentralisation of power to local communities.
Also joining the high profile line-up of witnesses at the meeting in Westminster is Lord Bob Kerslake, the former Sheffield City Council chief executive and permanent secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), who is currently chairing an inquiry into devolution in the UK.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has given written evidence to the inquiry, which is being conducted by the APPG on reform, decentralisation and devolution in the UK, submitting its ‘Devo Local’ white paper which includes ideas and proposals to support devolution through empowering and strengthening local (parish and town) councils.
Andrea Jenkyns MP, chairman of the APPG on local democracy said: “I welcome the Government’s devolution proposals which are aimed at giving more power to our communities, however I would like to see more emphasis placed on the work done by local councils, and more of a role for them in devolution. That is why I am pleased that the next session of the APPG on local democracy will discuss devolution in more depth and hear from a range of speakers including the minister for the ‘northern powerhouse’.”
Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC said: "The APPG on local democracy plays an important role in Parliament both raising awareness and promoting local councils. I'm delighted the group has secured such a high calibre of speakers to discuss devolution and the crucially the role of local councils. I strongly urge all local councils to contact their MP to encourage them to attend".
The session will take place on 18 November 2015 at Portcullis House, Westminster. Other speakers confirmed include the cabinet member for localism at Cornwall council, Cllr Jeremy Rowe, Professor Colin Copus from De Montfort University, Professor Jane Wills from Queen Mary University of London and NALC’s chief executive, Jonathan Owen.
The APPG's other office holders are Karen Buck MP, whose Westminster North constituency is home to Queen's Park Community Council, London's first ever parish council, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves and former NALC president and cross-bencher Lord Lytton.