NALC welcomes Future of Communities report
Responding to the publication of the Local Trust / Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) report on the Future of Communities, Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “NALC warmly welcomes the publication by Local Trust of its long-awaited Future of Communities report.
"The publication is key because it highlights the key role local (parish and town) councils have to play in community engagement, both independently and in league with excellent partners such as Community Organisers. We welcome Local Trust’s recognition that the more community engagement skills we can give to local councillors and clerks the more likely communities across England will be empowered and actively engage in civic duties. A big thumbs up also for the report recognizing that community-led neighbourhood plans (mostly led by local councils) have given residents some sense of control over the size and composition of new developments; for promoting local networking and empowerment through residents finding ways to meet and campaign on big issues; and for advocating the creation of more local councils in England (using their local precept).
“However we were disappointed that the report didn’t include any case studies from local councils when reflecting on what can be done locally to tackle loneliness despite the good work many councils are doing on this important issue. We disagree with Local Trust / IVAR that local council credibility in the community can be a challenge, as most local councils are democratically elected and all are subject to rigorous transparency and audit requirements.”
Local councils have many strong links with local trusts, including shared policy interests. Some local trusts have expressed interest in starting campaigns to create new local councils in their areas. The report shares findings from an 18-month research project asking ‘What needs to happen for communities to feel and be more powerful in the future?' The report is part of the Empowered Communities in the 2020s research project launched in March 2017 to gather a wide range of views about the future for communities. The main issues which were thrown up by the research (poverty, transience, fragmentation, isolation and a democratic deficit) are problems which local councils (and the creation of them) can largely solve, especially in urban and more deprived areas.