Nash Mills Parish Council - Achieving a Quality Award
Author: Nikki Bugden, parish clerk at Nash Mills Parish Council
We all have reasons for applying for the NALC Local Council Award Scheme.
It might be that you want to evidence to your communities the standards that you adhere to as a council, it might be to maintain your own CPD, and it might just be that you are so proud of what you and your team have achieved that you want to receive sector approved accreditation to reflect it.
I first broached the subject of LCAS with my council after I finished my CiLCA. I was relatively new to the sector and wanted to learn more to help me feel more confident in how we did things.
Most of my councillors were reasonably new to local government, but the team was fully engaged and supportive in investigating how we could improve.
By considering the LCAS criteria, we could explore our shortcomings. Council was able to build a vision for its term, enabling us to plan the next steps and select our desired outcomes.
How have we benefited?
Post-elections, it can sometimes be difficult to harness the enthusiasm of your newly elected team, LCAS enabled us to adopt a planned and sequential approach to all of the new ideas that these separate individuals felt passionate about. It helped me to ensure that the council were mindful of the standards required for us to operate safely and compliantly. It also helped us to ensure that in our plans to make significant improvements, we didn’t forget to engage and communicate with our electorate.
The many benefits have been reflected by:
• Increased attendees at our meetings due to improved communication via the re-launched parish magazine and social media.
• Improvements to our area and projects that are a positive collaborative experience (we have conducted polls via social media to take views on exactly what improvements our residents want in their local area).
• Improved public engagement. We have just finished the term with a ‘community expo’ event highlighting the many achievements council have made during their term.
I want to think that applying for the LCAS made sure that we did this efficiently and that we did it content in the knowledge that we maintain high professional standards in all areas and that this hard work is recognised within our sector at the highest level.
My hard work and many hours spent preparing the submission have resulted in the team finishing their term with such a significant, sector-approved award. Giving them at our final meeting as Team Nash Mills was a lovely accolade. Even if you are a small parish like us, it was a positive initiative to undertake.
Six tips for councils considering applying for an LCAS
1. Look at the criteria before applying — Fully understanding what you will need to do before you start can help you to schedule your workload appropriately. Study NALC’s LCAS application guide to ensure your council meets the relevant criteria.
2. Be realistic with timescales — Don’t overload yourself, this should be a positive experience. Don’t plan to do this at your peak time.
3. Explain the benefits to your councillors — This helps to get them engaged so that they can support you and helps them to understand the importance of the policies and procedures you are introducing.
4. Plan your agendas — Aim for your agendas to coincide with the milestones that the council need to achieve, spreading the workload helps it to be more achievable.
5. Evidence, evidence, evidence — Make sure your minutes reflect the criteria in the award guidance. Keep your website updated (it saves a vast, last-minute task pre-submission but also enables residents to see what you have in place).
6. Take your time — There is no rush to complete the award- I first looked at the criteria approx. 3 years ago, when I finished my CiLCA, this gave the council time to look at their ‘business plan’, and then I left myself 18 months so that we could aim to have it in place before the end of their term.
The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.