NALC event highlights how local councils can benefit from the levelling up agenda
The National Association of Local Councils' (NALC) latest online event on 31 January 2024 highlighted how local (parish and town) councils could benefit from the levelling up agenda.
The expert panel featured Adam Hawksbee, deputy director at Onward, Sophie Hosking, strategic director for neighbourhoods at Cornwall Council, and Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire Council. They spoke about how local councils can benefit from the levelling up agenda and what steps they need to take to prepare for devolution. The speakers shared their understandings, best practices, and lessons learned, giving their helpful perspective on succeeding in a devolved environment.
Adam Hawksbee discussed how local councils can effectively tackle the five challenges of levelling up; addressing and preventing antisocial behaviour, revitalising high streets and town centres, supporting local cultural institutions, fostering economic development, and aiding the most disadvantaged. He also offered insights for councils in crafting devolution deals, emphasising the importance of identifying mutually beneficial wins across various levels of government.
Cllr Les spotlighted North Yorkshire's transition from eight separate councils to a unified unitary authority, North Yorkshire Council, now the third largest in the country. He underscored the significance of devolution for the council, labelling it as "the holy grail of local government," and emphasised the shift of decision-making from county halls to village halls.
Sophie Hosking shared her experiences with Cornwall Council, emphasising their localism strategy, which was developed collaboratively with local councils and endorsed by all political parties. The strategy aims to maintain governance at the appropriate levels, recognising that certain services are more effectively managed locally.