Time to connect power to communities
England’s 10,000 local (parish and town) councils are marching on the Houses of Parliament on 28th March in a ‘Lobby Day’ to meet with parliamentarians.
The third ever ‘Lobby Day’ by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is aimed at raising the profile of the most local level of government.
Community leaders will be meeting their local MPs to promote the benefits of local councils and how England’s 80,000 councillors are improving their communities by giving local people a voice, taking action on local priorities and delivering important local services.
Councillors will also be raising the local council sector’s positive offer to those in Westminster and Whitehall alongside pressing for new measures to put communities more in control of their areas through stronger local democracy, fairer funding and more powers.
We have three key demands:
Strengthen Local Democracy: To make it easier for communities and local people to set up new local councils. There have been over 200 new local councils set up in the last decade but there are still major bureaucratic barriers to prevent them from being created.
Fairer Funding: More financial freedoms for local councils. The main planks of true devolution and localism should be that these councils are free to spend their monies as their communities and electorate wants. So there should be no capping placed on any of there spending and all intended grants are passed over to them. Further many local councils are encouraging the development of the local economy and businesses so they should have a share of the business rates (but NALC is not asking for an increase in the levels of this taxation). We want to maintain the amounts of monies coming to communities through neighbourhood planning and development – Community Infrastructure Levy
More Powers: We want new powers to deliver new services like in the area of health and well-being
The chairman of NALC, Cllr Sue Baxter said: "I want to see the government, shadow front benches, MPs, principal authorities (counties, districts, borough and/or unitaries) up their game and improve their awareness of local councils in their respective communities and the vital work they do to improve their areas.
“In a time when more communities are feeling disconnected from power, new local councils are being created every year as a result of communities wanting more of a say over their area; so I’m particularly keen for MPs in unparished areas such as our larger towns and cities to engage with us and understand the benefits of grassroots democracy, representation and community action.”
“Further to this we want all political parties, principal authorities, local MPs, private and charity sectors to sign up to the sector’s demands of more powers, fairer funding andstronger local democracy and support the implementation of these as soon as possible.”