NALC addresses the select committee on the levelling up inquiry
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has addressed a parliamentary select committee of MPs as part of their inquiry into post-pandemic economic growth and levelling up.
NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter gave oral evidence alongside representatives from the Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) Network and Local Government Association.
In her opening remarks, stated “local (parish and town) councils as the most local part of local government have never been more important”, and were “getting on with the job, supporting local communities and delivering services that communities value”.
Responding to a question about the definition of levelling up, she added “levelling up as a strategy isn’t widely socialised or understood” and that “at the local level our local councils are fundamental, not incidental to levelling up agenda”. She went onto comment that “levelling up is about spreading opportunity and prosperity, helping communities everywhere to help themselves, unlocking devolution everywhere, empowering local councils everywhere to be at the heart of rebuilding communities. This should mean levelling up by creating more councils, providing powers and funding, building relationships with different tiers, and building capacity to deliver”.
Relations between the local and strategic level was a consistent theme of the session, including between local councils and LEPs. On this, Cllr Baxter, commented “one of the problems we have at the moment is a real disconnect... there are areas where the relationship is really good, but generally, it is patchy, and we are not able to engage as everything we do falls between the radar”. Mark Bretton, LEPs Network, responded by offering to work together to address this issue.