National Association of Local Councils (NALC) conference, Future Local, showed how local (parish and town) councils are helping to drive and deliver many localist actions such as Our Place! Sustainable Communities Act and Neighbourhood Planning to communities. And how those in power need to listen to calls for more influence and devolution to the community level.
These local councils are achieving all of this in a very challenging and tough economic climate. NALC supports this grassroots approach, which is moving forward, to grow and nurture our places.
Oliver Letwin MP, minister for Government Policy, said: “Community and parish power is the solution to the problems in the fabric of our society. If we were to invest in this, then we would have a very different country, which would be about ‘us’ solving society’s problems rather than ‘them’ finding the answers.
He continued by saying: “I am really pleased with the success of neighbourhood planning with parish and town councils taking an active lead in this. We have over 1,000 communities in the country seeking to adopt or already have adopted neighbourhood plans. This shows what can be achieved in local areas when people work together.”
Further on this theme, Cllr Ken Browse, chair of NALC, said: “We live in fast and moving times and its vital we keep up and local councils need to change. And they are changing. We are seeing a real grassroots revolution, which makes these councils unrecognisable from their establishment. And that is why we are asking all political parties to recognise the value of true localism in any policies they deliver before and after the next general election.”
Andy Sawford MP, shadow minister for local government and the communities, said: ”Labour wants to see devolution for everywhere in the country not just for Scotland and cities, but also in towns, villages, parishes, and neighbourhoods.”
He said although localism is in fashion now, but where the country goes with devolution will be a real test of localism’s strength. He further added that: “The next Labour government will be looking to strengthen and develop neighbourhood planning, by encouraging further co-operation between all tiers of local government.”
Annette Brooke MP, chair of Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party, said: “The Liberal Democrats are keen supporters of NALC's Manifesto. The successes of the campaign to create new parish and town councils are evidence that there is a real demand out there in the country for renewed forms of local democracy. Also it is high time that all political parties recognise the hard unstinting work of parish and town councils in their communities and this needs to be recognised by those in the corridors of power.”
The following candidates were successfully elected to the Committee for the tenure 2014-2016.
Angela Lawrence, Abingdon Town Council, Oxfordshire
David A Fleming, Bishop Auckland Town Council, County Durham
Paul Harvey, West Bletchley Town Council, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes
Martin Bennett, Oswestry Town Council, Shropshire