Parishes across Buckinghamshire are being urged to work together and more closely with the county council to serve residents.
At a county-wide 'Working Together' conference on 25 November 2015, county council leader Cllr Martin Tett said towns and parishes were strong building blocks for providing services to the community.
Already 46 towns and parishes carry out devolved highways and transport services from a total county-wide budget of £945,000.
Jonathan Owen, chief executive of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), urged parish delegates at the conference to get involved and not to miss the opportunity to reshape public services.
He encouraged parishes to keep telling residents about the vital role they played, and said they needed to be better at delivering more through strong partnerships with each other and with principal authorities like Buckinghamshire County Council.
The conference, hosted by the county council at Amersham King’s Church centre, aimed to showcase opportunities to devolve more services to parish and town councils, and to explore the kinds of services parishes would be interested in.
Senior county council directors outlined the challenges facing services for children and young people, communities, health, adult social care, the environment and the local economy. And they said parishes were uniquely placed to make a critical contribution in these areas. The conference was held against a backdrop of budget pressure on upper tier local authorities, and on the day Chancellor George Osborne presented his Autumn Spending Review.
Cllr Martin Tett said: "The changes in local government funding offer the real opportunity for Town and Parish councils to step forward and take on new powers and responsibilities. Those with ambition can play a key role in both delivering services to their residents and shaping their communities. There are opportunities for increased devolution across all council services."
Conference chairman Cllr Martin Phillips, county council cabinet member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: "There are many things that parishes and towns are better placed to do locally than principal authorities like Buckinghamshire County Council, and I’m pleased we’re taking a leading role in helping them to be more influential, more linked in with us, and empowering them to make things better for their residents."