An open letter to all political party leaders: Promoting civility and respect, empowering communities


The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) chair, Cllr Keith Stevens, has written an open letter to all the political party leaders on promoting civility, respect and empowering communities.

As chair of the National Association of Local Councils, I am calling for you to put standards in public life and community empowerment front and centre during the General Election campaign and into the next Parliament.

Abuse, bullying and intimidation of elected representatives and their public officials at all levels of government is one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

Doing nothing risks seeing more politicians and community leaders – of all parties and none – stepping down, fewer people putting themselves forward, and less diversity and representation in our political and public life. Public trust in democratic institutions will also continue to be further eroded.

We must all do everything we can to help stamp out such unacceptable and harmful behaviour and to promote civility and respect.

That is why I am urging all the political parties to show leadership during the General Election campaign through the conduct and tone of party leaders, candidates, and their teams.

And for all political parties to further demonstrate a commitment to promoting civility and respect by pledging to implement in full the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommendations on local government ethical standards within the first year of the new Parliament.

Empowering local government and local communities must also be at the heart of your missions for change and national renewal.

The UK faces challenges no political party or national government alone can solve. It is local government at all levels which is the key to tackling these challenges.

Especially our most local level of democracy, England’s 10,000 parish and town councils and their 100,000 councillors who are closest to residents and invest over £2 billion a year to help build strong communities and improve local quality of life.

Taking action on climate change, cost of living, health and well-being, housing, community safety, services for younger and older people – these are among the profound issues we face which parish and town councils are stepping up to address. And increasingly taking on more responsibilities from financially challenged higher tier councils.

But with the right support and reforms, they can continue to play a bigger role in their communities and to realise their potential.

NALC’s Manifesto for building stronger communities across England sets out a blueprint to do just this, to strengthen local leadership by empowering parish and town councils.

With diverse funding, and by building their capacity and capability, parish and town councils can empower rural and urban communities and help them to level up and take control of their areas to boost prosperity and civic pride.

I would urge you to adopt our proposals to improve standards in public life and empower communities through parish and town councils in lead up to the General Election, and to implement them during the next Parliament.

Cllr Keith Stevens 

Download the full letter

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