News

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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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NOV
21

Inform — Influence — Impact

AUTHOR: ANDREW TUBB, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CIRENCESTER TOWN COUNCIL


It was great to be asked to chair the making communities healthier workshops at the NALC annual conference, with a strong focus on loneliness; during the sessions I had a strong sense that whilst loneliness is on-trend, the most important message to take away was the impact we can all have where we live and work.

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NOV
11

Cllr Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE reflects on being the leader of one of the country’s first unitary councils

AUTHOR: CLLR BARONESS SCOTT OF BYBROOK OBE, WILTSHIRE COUNCIL


Retiring as leader of Wiltshire Council this year has offered me the opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved, and how local government has changed over the last ten years. For me, chief among these was the creation of Wiltshire Council in 2009. As the leader of Wiltshire County Council at the time, applying for unitary status seemed like a golden opportunity to improve the delivery and efficiency of services for 470,000 people.

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OCT
30

Financial risks of climate change

AUTHOR: JAMES BEVAN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT THE CCLA


Planning ahead for costs and revenues or profits and losses requires assumptions to be set on the what will happen to economies, the environment and markets. Climate change can affect all three.

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OCT
17

Powering Past Coal: Investors and Climate-Related Public Policy

AUTHOR: HELEN WILDSMITH, STEWARDSHIP DIRECTOR (CLIMATE CHANGE) AT THE CCLA


Increasing attention is being paid to the impact that climate change will have on the economy.

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OCT
08

Building Communities

AUTHOR: DANNY MOODY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF LCOAL COUNCILS


Over the past two years Northants CALC (the membership organisation for parish and town councils in Northamptonshire) has been heavily engaged in the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) programme in the county. LGR will see the existing borough, district and county councils replaced with two new unitary councils, West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council, from 1 April 2021.

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AUG
01

Lord Gary Porter reflects on his work with NALC

AUTHOR: LORD GARY PORTER, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION


As my time as chairman comes to its close, I can reflect on the importance of the relationship that has developed between the Local Government Association (LGA) and NALC for the sector. 

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JUL
10

Growing local councils in Cornwall

AUTHOR: PROFESSOR JANE WILLS, CENTRE FOR GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER


There has been little to celebrate in the world of local government in recent years. Severe budget cuts have hit local authorities very hard and the associated headlines have been all about service cuts, job losses and even bankruptcy.

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OCT
24

Future of local councils survey

NALC has taken the opportunity to use the challenges of Brexit and local government funding reductions to undertake a stocktake of where the sector is now, how it sees itself and its future, and how others perceive it and view its potential. NALC want this big conversation to help develop a new vision for the role of local (parish and town) councils and the support and change needed to achieve this.

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NOV
14

NALC supports Local Government Association's #OurDay campaign

Organised by the Local Government Association, #OurDay is an annual tweetathon that gives everyone who works or volunteers in public services the chance to share their stories of how they improve the quality of life of their residents. And it’s really easy to get involved – simply tweet us @NALC using the #OurDay hashtag with your local council’s top achievements from 2017. NALC want to know anything you have done to benefit your community. Remember, images and videos help tell your story so make sure you tweet them out too! Do also sign up to the #OurDay thunderclap which will help get the hashtag trending. NALC be playing our part by tweeting out case studies from throughout the year. If you’ve already decided to get involved please let NALC know at: . If you’re not on Twitter yet, here are some simple tips to help signing up, so you can get involved!

Find out more about #OurDay

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OCT
31

NALC launches a prospectus for ultra-localism

NALC's A prospectus for ultra-localism sets out our positive offer to the  government. It outlines how we can help the next government realise its ambitions for community empowerment, localism and devolution. It also arms the next government with a range of policy ideas to unlock the power and potential of communities by helping local councils flourish.

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MAY
26

Celebrating Community Champions as part of Volunteers’ Week

Next week marks the beginning of Volunteers’ Week 2017, an annual event from 1-7 June which celebrates the difference volunteers make to communities across the country.

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JAN
12

NALC promotes onward devolution with publication of Devo Plus

 NALC continues to promote onward devolution with the recent publication of its new Devo Plus toolkit

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DEC
08

NALC supports parish meetings having access to full electoral register

The main finding from a recent NALC survey of parish meetings across England was that most parish meetings want access to...

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OCT
17

NALC lobbies government for parish exemption on business rate payment

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) recently responded to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Business Rate Appeals...

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JUL
28

NALC pushes for greater housing powers

NALC has launched a survey of parish councils to support its campaign to give parishes greater community led housing powers.

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JUL
27

NALC urges parishes to push for seat at devolution table

NALC's Policy Committee met on 26 July 2016 and agreed that parishes in all Devolution Deal areas should push for a seat at the devolution table in their areas, especially in those areas represented by a Combined Authority.

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JUL
20

NALC calls on new government to remove toilet tax

The NALC Larger Councils’ Committee met for its annual good practice visit in Dunstable on 19 July, 2016 and re-iterated its call on the new government to make good on exempting parish councils from payment of business rates on public buildings they own or manage – before 2018.

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MAY
11

NALC calls for parishes to be statutory consultees

NALC's Policy Committee met on 10 May 2016 and formally agreed to adopt a position for parish councils to become statutory consultees on all aspects of Temporary Events Notice applications.

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APR
29

NALC calls for parishes to make greater use of Sustainable Communities Act

The NALC Larger Councils Committee met on 26 April 2016 and called for larger local councils in England to make good quality proposals to solve national policy problems they are facing – using the Sustainable Communities Act 2007.

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APR
06

Government commits to ending toilet tax from 2018

The Chancellor's recent Budget announced in Clause 2.125 that 'the government will allow local authorities in England to use their discretionary relief powers to support publicly owned public lavatories from 1 April 2018', which at a time of austerity and devolution is seen as a triumph by both local (parish and town) councils and national bodies.

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FEB
10

NALC supports exclusion of Right To Buy extension

NALC's Policy Committee met on 9 February 2016 and formally agreed to adopt a position seeking exclusion from the proposed Right To Buy extension – of housing in rural areas, particularly where the land has been originally provided to meet local housing need.

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FEB
09

Do you need statistics about your parish?

NALC have been lobbying the Government to undertake more research and analysis of the parish sector for everyone to get better understanding of these communities and neighbourhoods.

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FEB
04

NALC supports the new ICO toolkit

NALC supports and welcomes the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) new toolkit that can help local councils make sure they are meeting data protection rules.

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FEB
01

NALC support community banking campaign

The National Association of Local Councils' (NALC) Larger Councils’ Committee met on 26 January 2016 and following intelligence that high street bank closure in many market towns of south west England is a major problem.

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JAN
25

MP calls for neighbourhood right of appeal

Thornbury and Yate minister, Luke Hall MP has called for the Housing and Planning Bill, which has its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 26 January 2015, to be amended to include a right of planning appeal to allow neighbourhood planning bodies to appeal against the granting of permission that conflicts with the policies of a made or well-advanced neighbourhood plan. This is a measure NALC is promoting in the manifesto along with other powers to put communities in control of their areas.
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DEC
16

NALC reiterates its position on parishes being planning consultees

NALC's Sustainable Communities Advisory Board met on 11 December 2015 and agreed to write again to Government reiterating the position that parishes should be statutory consultees in all aspects of the planning system including large cross border housing applications.

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DEC
11

Stronger Local Democracy: Parishes need to engage more with Post Office changes

Currently the post office network is undergoing its biggest restructuring in decades. The aim of this transformation programme is to maintain the size of a network of approximately 11,500 branches and ensure it is financially sustainable for the future by converting around three quarters of the network to new operating models.

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