News

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JAN
11

Straining every sinew to try and influence the local plan

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AUTHOR: CLLR LILLIAN BURNS, MEMBER OF NALC'S SMALLER COUNCILS COMMITTEE


As statutory consultees, all parish councils spend excessive time considering and commenting upon planning applications (i.e. development planning).

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DEC
13

Town Centre Regeneration – TrailTale’s case study

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AUTHOR: RAFI ILIVITZKY, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT TRAILTALE


An exciting initiative of TrailTale has been to collaborate with different councils across Great Britain, to create exciting digital routes accessible by phone for both residents and tourists, to explore the local heritage and beautiful countryside, while also promoting local businesses on the high street to entice shoppers after the Covid-19 lockdowns. One of TrailTale’s most exciting and successful projects in 2021, has been working with Bolton Borough Council to promote the fascinating history of the different towns within the borough. Here is the journey to success, working with Bolton Borough Council.

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DEC
07

Building future communities through effective communication and engagement

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AUTHOR: DANIEL PURCHESE, CO-DIRECTOR AT BREAKTHROUGH COMMUNICATIONS


Local (parish and town) councils right across the country do amazing work. Most go way above and beyond what is expected of them by statute and provide a range of valuable services and facilities to the communities that they serve.

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DEC
06

Ordinary people, extraordinary communities 

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AUTHOR: TRACEY ROBBINS, HEAD OF UK DELIVERY AT EDEN PROJECT COMMUNITIES


After nearly two years of Lockdowns and restrictions and in the face of multiple global crises, local councils will know all too well that community spirit and resilience are needed now more than ever before. And yet, research carried out before The Big Lunch 2021 (the UK’s annual date to celebrate neighbours and community) showed that over half the population felt anxious, apprehensive, or scared about socialising without restrictions. 10 million people thought they’d forgotten how to have a proper conversation. Our communities needed coaxing out and permission and a reason to connect – and I’m pleased to say that The Big Lunch provided the perfect tonic.

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DEC
01

Cybersecurity — Keeping data safe

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ANDY HALL, CYBER INSURANCE SPECIALIST AT BHIB COUNCILS INSURANCE


With a significant increase in home working, it is essential to consider what security measures you have in place.

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NOV
30

It’s all app’ening with Microsoft 365   

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AUTHOR: DAVID HALL, DIRECTOR AT CLOUDY IT


Back in August (how long ago that now seems!), Microsoft 365 announced its first significant price rise for commercial users since the launch of Office 365 in June 2011. Those 10 years have seen huge changes in the platform, developing it from what many people then regarded as a set of worthy but unexciting programs for word-processing, data-crunching, email-sending and slide-presenting into an all-powerful software suite that’s been known as Microsoft 365 since 2017.

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NOV
29

Local councils as community leaders

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NEIL HOMER, DIRECTOR AT ONEILL HOMER LTD


Neighbourhood planning has come a long way in the last decade. Given its origins and untested introduction in 2011, it’s perhaps surprising that it has fared so well in the face of many challenges.

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NOV
24

It is time to level up town and parish councils

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AUTHOR: JENEVIEVE TREADWELL, RESEARCHER AT ONWARD


Up and down the country, councillors and clerks are working with their communities to protect and improve the places they live. But they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back, with fewer powers and resources than other forms of local government. This system undercuts the impressive work that town and parish councils already do to help their communities take ownership of their place. It is time that we recognised their potential and gave them the powers and resources to take back control.

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NOV
22

Dangers of using spreadsheets for managing parish, town and community council finances

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AUTHOR: JOHN FAGAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT SCRIBE


Did you know 88% of spreadsheets have errors?

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NOV
18

The Localism Act ten years on

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AUTHOR: JUSTIN GRIGGS, HEAD OF POLICY AND COMMUNICATIONS AT THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS


In my house, ‘levelling up’ is best understood as meaning advancing from one level or skill or power to another. Especially by my eldest who like many twelve-year-olds loves gaming online with his cousins and friends. Shouting at the screen also seems to be part of the gaming experience, although I can’t recall Pacman, Space Invaders or Daley Thompson’s Decathlon being quite that intense.

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NOV
18

Expanding the provision on almshouses to improve our future communities

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AUTHOR: NICK PHILLIPS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE ALMSHOUSE ASSOCIATION


It may seem odd to suggest that our future communities might be improved by looking at a housing model which has existed for 1,000 years. However, there is a lot to learn from a model which has had to adapt and change to survive hundreds of years of change and turmoil. Furthermore, as our recent research report shows, this model provides savings of £43m annually. Much of this is through the encouragement of companionship and reduced isolation. So what role could almshouses play in our future communities?

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NOV
16

Councils, websites & using digital communication – making the content accessible for everyone and adhering to the Transparency Code

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AUTHOR: MARK TOMKINS, FOUNDER OF AUBERGINE


Looking back to look forward

Let’s look back to before the pandemic and the explosive use of digital communications by the Public Sector to reach its audience during the lockdowns.

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NOV
02

Blachere Illumination — Global leaders in eco-responsible lighting

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AUTHOR: KATHERINE OWEN, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS OFFICER AT BLACHERE ILLUMINATION


Blachere Illuminations have designed and manufactured illuminations, specialising in Christmas lighting, all over the world for over 45 years. Our vast expertise within the industry ensures we deliver a first-class experience for every client. In 2001, we established Blachere UK, and we are now the largest supplier of Christmas lighting in the UK.

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OCT
27

Building Communities

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AUTHOR: ANDREW TAYLOR, GROUP PLANNING DIRECTOR AT COUNTRYSIDE


In the wake of the pandemic, we’re all considering what the next generation of neighbourhoods will look like and how will they meet the needs of the communities they are designed to serve. Our priorities have changed immeasurably, and as planners and developers, we are looking to respond in earnest.

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SEP
07

Internal Audit: Starts again once the External Audit is complete

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AUTHOR: ELEANOR GREENE, SECRETARY TO THE PARISH INTERNAL AUDITORS FORUM


Summer holidays are coming close, and the external auditors are getting through even the most complicated AGAR forms.

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SEP
01

The challenge of climate change for councils and what they can do about it

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RUAIRE GLACKIN, HEAD OF NET ZERO AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT AT UTILITY AID


Perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation is addressing the pace of climate change before it is too late. We all have a significant part to play in this and Councils are no different. The need to show leadership set examples and be a driving force in creating real and meaningful change is clear.

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AUG
09

The implications of the post-COVID-19 and Brexit worlds for England’s parish and town councils — view from the town hall and beyond

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AUTHOR: DR GORDON MORRIS, HONORARY RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER


The implications of the post-COVID-19 and Brexit worlds for England’s town councils were explored in a recent paper by the writer. An online survey supported by telephone interviews elicited approximately 25,000 words of carefully considered opinions and suggestions from 123 councillors and 21 clerks from 78 councils (including the academics and policy professionals who contributed, 156 participants in all). The following is a snapshot of the findings.

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AUG
02

Your A-Z list of the UK's popular grant funders

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EMMA CURTIS, PARTNERSHIP MANAGER AT SCRIBE ACCOUNTS


The world of grant funding can be a mind-boggling minefield. However, with so many potential benefits it should not be seen as a hurdle, but as an opportunity to grab some free cash to bring your project ideas to life and create a valuable asset for your community.

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JUL
26

Insurance and Accounting for Councils – a new guide from BHIB Councils Insurance

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AUTHOR: LUKE PERKINS, PARTNERSHIPS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AT BHIB COUNCILS INSURANCE


NALC’s insurance partner, BHIB Councils Insurance, have produced a detailed new guide aimed at providing council insurance and accounting information to new council clerks and councillors.

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JUN
30

The High Street Footfall Decline - TrailTale’s Solution

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AUTHOR: RAFI ILIVITZKY, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT TRAILTALE


A growing decline

According to the Retail Gazette Analysis (2019) - In the past seven years, British high streets have suffered greatly. In total, the high street footfall has declined by 10%, an incredibly large statistic; considering that our population is growing, rather than shrinking.

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JUN
25

Thank You Day: celebrating the community spirit that got us through

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AUTHOR: ANDREW DIXON, TOGETHER


In March, Together published the Talk/together report based on a national conversation involving over 150,000 people. The report found that people felt the country had generally pulled together, not apart, as a result of the pandemic, and that people were keen to retain the best of the new community spirit they had seen in action.

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JUN
22

Calling on local councillors to secure a legacy for the future

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AUTHOR: DAVID BARROWCLIFF, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AT ENGLISH RURAL


Rural communities can only thrive if there are good quality affordable homes available to those who live and work in rural areas.

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JUN
14

Help us draw the line to make parliamentary constituencies more equal

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AUTHOR: TIM BOWDEN, SECRETARY TO THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND


What are the local ties which bind together your constituency? Is it where you send your children to school, your place of worship, your library - or, perhaps, the community groups you attend? Over the next eight weeks, we want you to tell us how we can best reflect your local community as we reshape the map of parliamentary constituency boundaries in England.

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JUN
07

What does the Queen's Speech mean for rural communities?

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AUTHOR: GRAHAM BIGGS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE RURAL SERVICES NETWORK


So now we know the government’s proposed programme for new legislation in the current session of parliament, as well as some other actions the government intends to take that, don’t need new laws or changes to existing laws. But what does it tell us?

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JUN
02

Low-interest rates: maintain your focus

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AUTHOR: MARK DAVIES, RELATIONSHIP MANAGER — LOCAL GOVERNMENT AT CCLA


Amid the events of 2020, a further reduction in the interest on your savings at the bank, building society or National Savings and Investments (NS&I) may well have gone unnoticed. Initially, at least.

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MAY
14

How councils are using digital tools to improve efficiency and communication with their communities

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AUTHOR: DAVID HALL, DIRECTOR AT CLOUDY IT


At the end of April, the High Court ruled against a bid by Hertfordshire County Council, LLG and ADSO to force the government into retaining the remote-meeting arrangements introduced in the first lockdown. For many councils, the instruction to return to face-to-face meetings directly after the May elections is a blow, particularly as public engagement has rocketed with virtual sessions. The government, meanwhile, does not intend to resume real-life sittings before 21 June.

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MAY
11

Parish Online User Group

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AUTHOR: GRAHAM STODDART-STONES, FOUNDER AND MANAGER OF THE PARISH ONLINE USER GROUP


What is Parish Online? Parish Online is recommended by NALC as a tool to help local councils manage their businesses. Over 1,400 councils already use Parish Online and, if you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you evaluate Parish Online by taking out a free trial. Parish Online is an affordable web-based, map-based information management system which allows councils to access OS mapping, address data and a host of other national datasets. Councils can use these maps as a reference to build their own asset layers (for things like allotments, streetlights and playground equipment). Councils can also use Parish Online to develop their own plans (for instance Neighbourhood Plans, Emergency Plans and Tree Planting Plans).

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APR
29

Internal Audit: Not just about the AGAR

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AUTHOR: ELEANOR GREENE, SECRETARY TO THE PARISH INTERNAL AUDITORS FORUM


At this time of year, every clerk is focused on getting their internal audit done and convening a full council meeting at which the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) will be signed. Still, with the right advice, an internal audit is a year-round, positive process.

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APR
19

The importance of secure email systems and GOV.UK domains for local councils

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AUTHOR: DARREN BRIDDOCK, DATA PROTECTION LEAD AT BREAKTHROUGH COMMUNICATIONS


Almost all local (parish and town) councils now have an official website, as well as official email accounts. An increasing number of councils also provide official email accounts for their councillors as well as for their clerk and other officers. When choosing a domain name for the council's website and emails, many local council websites are appropriately making use of the exclusive GOV.UK domain (for example, ourparishcouncil.gov.uk), with email addresses being linked to that domain as well.

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APR
08

How to prepare new councillors for the future of hybrid meetings and workplaces

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AUTHOR: DAVID HALL, DIRECTOR AT CLOUDY IT


With just weeks to go before the May local elections, councils are taking stock of the last 12 months. The biggest change has been the shift to remote working, and among the biggest winners has been local democracy, with online council meetings enjoying far greater participation from both councillors and public than was typical with traditional, face-to-face meetings.

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APR
06

Democracy Club

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AUTHOR: PETER KEELING, VOTING INFORMATION MANAGER AT THE DEMOCRACY CLUB


Democracy Club is a Community Interest Company which builds online voter information tools for UK elections. We run the UK’s national polling station finder at WhereDoIVote.co.uk (in conjunction with The Electoral Commission), and a database of UK elections and candidates at WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk. We’re a small team, supported by hundreds of volunteers. We work openly, and all our data is free to access.

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MAR
15

Why councils are moving away from Zoom in 2021 

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AUTHOR: DAVID HALL, DIRECTOR AT CLOUDY IT


How time flies when we’re enjoying ourselves. It’s one year on from the first lockdown when, almost overnight, councils had to switch to virtual meetings. Video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Teams went from hitherto obscurity in local government circles to mainstays of the democratic process.

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FEB
01

Yes, do plant trees & re-wild – but in the right places and the right way

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AUTHOR: CLLR LILLIAN BURNS, NALC NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER AND PART OF NALC'S CLIMATE CHANGE TASK AND FINISH GROUP


NALC’s recent climate change survey of local councils asked: "What carbon-reducing measures are you working on in the community?"

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DEC
02

Now is the time for local councils to be given new esteem

AUTHOR: DANNY KRUGER MP FOR DEVIZES, WILTSHIRE


During the pandemic, we’ve seen a welcome upsurge in voluntarism and generosity across villages and towns up and down the nation. In Devizes, St James’ Church was especially quick to mobilise resources and get stuck in. Within just a week of asking congregants and other locals to help, 344 volunteers had been vetted and referenced. This marked the start of three busy months of leafleting, delivering essentials and checking on vulnerable members of the community.

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NOV
24

Climate and ecological emergency declared?

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AUTHOR: JO HAND, CO-FOUNDER, BUSINESS AND COMMUNITIES AT GIKI ZERO


Three-quarters of councils have now declared a climate emergency in the UK and a crucial next step is working through what this means in terms of councils’ operational and residents’ carbon footprints. Many councils will be considering, or already working towards Net Zero, and a key requirement to get there, is motivating residents to recognize the benefits of a low carbon transition.

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OCT
30

Why local councils need to be more like Idris Elba

AUTHOR: CLARE PELHAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT THE EPILEPSY SOCIETY


Why indeed? At first glance, there seems to be a yawning gap between TV actor, Idris Elba and our local councils. The star of Sunday night’s Luther has been hotly tipped as a future Bond, but I’m not aware that he is also in the running as chair of a remote parish council in Cornwall or Northumbria. So why do I wish local councils could be more like the iconic hero of stage and screen? 

idris

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SEP
10

Data protection is changing yet again

AUTHOR: DANIEL PURCHESE, DIRECTOR AT BREAKTHROUGH COMMUNICATIONS


Data protection is changing yet AGAIN. Here's how parish and town councils can get on top of what's coming, take some of the stress out of compliance and get back to focusing on what matters in their communities.

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JUN
30

Support your local market

AUTHOR: DAVID PRESTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF NABMA


Markets have been an important feature of many towns for over a thousand years. Currently, there are around 1,150 regular traditional retail markets, and almost 80% of them are operated or licensed by local authorities. But coming out of lockdown this situation might soon change unless local authorities support their markets.

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JUN
24

From floods to pandemics: resilience for rural communities at times of crisis

AUTHORS: IMOGEN SMITH, SENIOR PROJECT OFFICER AT COMMUNITIES PREPARED AND PHILLIP VINCENT, PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AT ACRE


As the outbreak of COVID-19 has demonstrated, unexpected events can and do happen, threatening the way of life we have become accustomed to. Sometimes the impact on individuals and the services that support them can be severe, with recovery taking months, if not years. This can be particularly felt by rural communities which are typically not well served by public infrastructure and services. In response we - Communities Prepared and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) - have published a new guide to help rural communities become more resilient to a range of emergencies, from floods to pandemics, by supporting them to plan ahead.

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JUN
03

Farming and local councils

AUTHOR: AMY COBBETT, BUSINESS AND RURAL AFFAIRS ADVISER AT THE NATIONAL FARMERS' UNION


With the outbreak of COVID-19, we are in an unprecedented time of change and challenges. In order for rural communities and businesses to successfully navigate the difficulties presented by COVID-19, it is important to work together to best support these areas during this trying time. This piece briefly outlines some ways that local (parish and town) councils can work alongside the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and farmers to ensure the best possible outcome for rural businesses.

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MAY
14

The resilience of local communities

AUTHOR: THE REVEREND DR MARK BETSON, NATIONAL RURAL OFFICER AT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND


One of the very positive things to come out of the current global crisis is the resilience of local communities. I work as the National Rural Officer for the Church of England and part of my role is to keep in to try to keep in touch with the 10,000 of our 16,000 churches that inhabit the countryside. The story from them has largely been the same across the country with village communities developing locally based schemes to support the vulnerable and encourage everyone.

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APR
17

Reflections on homeworking during coronavirus

AUTHORS: VARIOUS STAFF AT NALC


Like so many organisations, NALC moved quickly to homeworking for all staff due to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, as part of NALC's business continuity planning most staff began working from home prior to the government advice to stop unnecessary travel and to work from home where possible. NALC staff reflect on the last few months, swapping the NALC office to their home office.

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APR
02

Extending rural mobile coverage

AUTHOR: GARETH ELLIOT, HEAD OF POLICY AND COMMUNICATIONS AT MOBILE UK


Patchy mobile coverage is one of today’s real concerns as the world becomes ever more connected. In the UK, many of the rural areas currently get only partial coverage or none at all. Ofcom’s most recent data states that 91% of the country receives 4G coverage from at least one operator and 66% from all four. Having good mobile coverage is widely recognised as being essential for the future prosperity of the rural economy and rural communities. People increasingly want the flexibility to work from home, and many sectors such as farming, tourism and transport are using mobile connectivity to increase productivity and improve services. Happily, the industry and the Government agreed on an unprecedented deal on 9th March 2020 that will extend coverage and eliminate the vast majority of partial not-spots coverage by all four operators.

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MAR
11

Cybercriminals exploit the spread of coronavirus

AUTHOR: STUART WILBUR, MICROSHADE VSM


Microshade VSM works in close co-operation with cybersecurity experts to ensure the safety of local (parish and town) councils' data. We wish to share this information with the sector that has given to us.

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MAR
02

Age-friendly Communities: shaping places to support healthy and active ageing

AUTHOR: ANGE JONES, AGE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES MANAGER AT THE CENTRE FOR AGEING BETTER


An Age-friendly Community is a place where people of all ages are able to live healthy and active later lives. It involves local groups, councils, businesses and residents all working together to identify and make changes in both the physical and social environments. This could be anything from transport and outdoor spaces to volunteering and employment or leisure and community services.

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FEB
11

Raising the bar on local democracy

AUTHOR: ANDREW TUBB, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CIRENCESTER TOWN COUNCIL


Having received over 500 positive and constructive responses to a public consultation on Cirencester Town Council’s budget proposal and always seeking to raise the bar even higher, I was interested to learn about innovative democracy at a conference in Manchester, part of International Week for Democratic Innovation.

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FEB
03

Innovating Local Democracy Conference

AUTHOR: CLLR LILLIAN BURNS, PRESTBURY PARISH COUNCIL


Citizens’ Assemblies were very much to the fore at the Innovating Local Democracy Conference which took place in Manchester in January. Earnest local authority officers and others spent much time examining different models and how to make them work most effectively and learning best practice from each other. All good stuff.

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JAN
09

Health and wellbeing at the Essex Association of Local Councils

AUTHOR: DANIELLE FROST, HEALTH AND WELLBEING OFFICER AT THE ESSEX ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS


The health and wellbeing movement is fundamental to Essex County Council’s strategic plan and they understand that to be successful, they need the local council sector to engage with it. Local (parish and town) councils are the closest layer of government to residents and can have the greatest impact on residents’ lives, from beginning to end.

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DEC
17

The future for rural areas

CRISPIN TRUMAN OBE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT RURAL ENGLAND


Standing in the High Weald in Kent recently, I’d been hearing about the multitude of problems the local area faces, with the pressures of development, degradation of nature, the finances of farming and the decline in traditional forms of community and participation.

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NOV
28

Parishes can play a key role in delivering community power

AUTHOR: JONATHAN OWEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS


Amidst all the current manifesto talk there is a frisson of excitement in the world of think tanks which is highly relevant to our movement, especially our largest ‘super’ local (parish and town) councils, about the concept of ‘community power’.

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