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NALC welcomes Lords recognition that local councils can play an important role as economic and community enablers
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) recently welcomed the publication of the House of Lords Rural Economy Select Committee report (2017-18 session), noting the high value the document places on local councils in the rural economy.
The report is a summary of the Select Committee’s findings from its 2018 inquiry into all aspects of the rural economy. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy was appointed by the House of Lords on 17 May 2018. The remit of the Committee is “to consider the rural economy, and to make recommendations”. The Committee held a number of public hearings to gain an overview and to learn of the key themes relating to the rural economy. The Committee was required to agree its report by the end of March 2019 – this has now been published.
NALC responded to the call for evidence in September 2018 (and Cllr Sue Baxter, NALC Chairman, gave oral evidence to the Committee soon after that) and argued very strongly for greater investment in rural transport, education, skills and housing; more affordable and social housing in rural areas; and greater Government rural proofing of all its policies – in particular those having regard to the rural economy. The Committee listened. It has cited its interaction with local councils during the call for evidence in the report. NALC is delighted that the Committee recognize the huge enabling role local councils play in the rural economy and their great capacity to deliver more services. NALC is also delighted to see that the Committee has cited its own response, in particular on the importance of affordable rural housing, shared service delivery and the crucial role councils such as Gnosall Parish Council (Staffordshire) have to play in supporting the rural housing agenda.
NALC welcomes the Committee’s main recommendation with application to local councils – that the Government should not include local councils (in all areas) in council tax referendum principles. The Committee also fully endorse NALC and the Rural Coalition’s call for a Government rural strategy as well as the shared view that the Government needs a comprehensive re-think on how to rural-proof all its (national and local) policies. NALC was also pleased that the report promoted Neighbourhood Planning and urged the Government to escalate its use.
Jonathan Owen, NALC chief executive, said, “NALC warmly welcomes the publication of the House of Lords Select Committee report on the rural economy and thanks the Committee for the chance to input to it. We commend the Committee for urging the Government not to include local councils in referendum principles for excessive council tax increases. And we are pleased that the report highlights the high value local councils bring to the rural economy. We look forward to working with the Committee and Government on delivering its recommendations and we urge the Government to respond quickly to the report.”