NALC Chief Executives Bulletin

Chief executive's bulletin 


Star Council Awards

The wait is finally over! This week we have announced the Star Council Awards finalists. I want to thank everyone who got involved this year – you can watch what some the judges had to say about the quantity, quality and diversity of nominations on our Twitter page. This year the Council of the Year award will be decided by you. Find out more about the nominations and cast your vote by 12 October 2018. Winners will be announced at the Annual Conference on 30 October – good luck to all the finalists!

Beacon lighting safety guidance
 
I know many local (parish and town) councils are busy preparing to mark 100 years since the end of World World War I by lighting a beacon at 7pm on the 11 November. So I wanted to draw to your attention some important and helpful beacon lighting safety guidelines from NALC’s partner BHIB Councils Insurance.

Aviva Community Fund
 
Last week the Aviva Community Fund was launched and offers the chance to get funding for causes important to your community. The timescale for applying is quite tight as online entries close midday on 9 October. Voting for projects then runs from 23 October to 20 November and projects with the most votes will become finalists.
 

Out and about

This week some of my colleagues were out and about at county association events and I'm keen to do more of this, so let me know if you have any upcoming events. 

  • Jane Moore, head of legal and solicitor, was in York on 18 September meeting county associations from across the north – issues ranged from Ledbury, the general power of competence and General Data Protection Regulation, plus some discussions on guidance and support and how we communicate
  • Silvia Nicole, finance and administration officer and Jessica Lancod-Frost, policy and projects officer exhibited at Essex Association of Local Councils' Annual General Meeting and Annual Conference, our stand proved to be very popular with many delegates signing The Tree Charter

Larger Councils Committee

The Larger Councils Committee met 18 September, and in advance of the minutes being available here are a few highlights: 

  • Extensive group discussions on taking forward the committee’s new terms of reference and developing a new work programme
  • The committee welcomed updates on the peer challenge project and roundtable meeting in Chippenham and want to see pilots take place
  • Feedback to the surveys on council tax support funding and service devolution had been incorporated in NALC’s response to the 2019-20 local government finance settlement technical consultation
  • Voting is underway for directly elected councillor and clerk positions to the committee

Meeting with National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Among our strategic plan objectives is building links with the voluntary sector, so I am pleased this week, Cllr Sue Baxter and I, meet Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, key points include: 

  • We have much in common as membership organisations and as many of our councillors are often charity trustees
  • Discussion on the developing role of local councils post-Brexit and the need to bring communities back together
  • Agreement to work closer together and explore corporate membership of NCVO
  • Learning from their work with businesses to encourage staff to become charity trustees
  • The challenges of recruiting volunteers and increasing diversity, with research being published on this shortly

Examples of your work on dementia

I’d really welcome your help with our work with the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Group. The group have been asked to give evidence to a House of Lords committee and we are keen to gather more examples of the work and projects by local councils to help tackle dementia – if you can help please contact NALC at policycomms@nalc.gov.uk, thank you.

And finally...

Well done Alton Town Council, Hampshire for their entry making the shortlist of the Great British High Street Awards, which hunts for the best high street in the UK. On 25 September judges will visit Alton to score the high street on four pillars of success; community, customer experience, environment and digital transformation – good luck!
  

 

 

 

Chief executive's bulletin

 
  

Civil Society Strategy
 
This week we welcomed the government’s new Civil Society Strategy, which has picked up our continued call to support onward devolution to local communities and the key role local (parish and town) councils already play in helping communities to help themselves. I was pleased to see the Cornwall Association of Local Councils recognised for their work with Cornwall Council on onward devolution. You can read more on NALC's response in our news story.
 
Rural Coalition parliamentary question on planning obligations 

The Institute of Public Policy Research report entitled A new rural settlement, recommended that the government should exempt rural areas from changes to Section 106 requirements, which no longer require affordable housing commitments on sites of less than 10 units. The Rural Coalition’s president, the Bishop of St Albans, has pressed the government on this through a parliamentary question, which was responded to this week by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth.

Annual Conference update
 
Places are filling up fast, and the conference is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet! Our keynote speakers include Rishi Sunak MP, Andrew Gwynne MP and Lord Gary Poter. In addition, there is a range of fantastic workshops including; Harnessing Local Knowledge – how local councils can use digital mapping to understand their local area, Male, Pale and Stale –  how local councils can engage with diverse members of their community and get them to stand for election, and One Community – showcasing our joint report with the Local Government Association on working more effectively with principal authorities. Book your place today to ensure you don't miss out!

Star Council Awards
 
This year's awards are hotting up with more applications than ever before. The awards celebrate the best achievements in the local council sector and highlight the great work carried out by local councils, councillors, clerks and county officers. Have you or your local council done something outstanding this year? If so, submit your entries by 17 August 2018.

Consultations

There are a number of policy consultations underway that our Policy Committee wants to hear your views on, including the rural economy by 27 August, adult social care and wellbeing by 12 September, coastal towns by 25 September, and youth services by 1 November. Please login to the member's area before accessing links. The government are also conducting an independent review of planning appeal enquiries, a reminder that if you’ve been involved in a planning appeal inquiry and would like to provide feedback, please contact NALC at:  jessica.lancod-frost@nalc.gov.uk.

Spring Conference
 
With conference gathering pace, this highly anticipated event will take place on 11 February 2019 at the Royal National Hotel, London. We have already announced that Jessica Studdert, deputy director of New Local Government Network, will be part of our panel. The panel will be debating local government reorganisation and the role local councils will play. There will also be workshops on youth services, financial resilience and loneliness in rural communities. Register your place today and save 20% with our early bird rates!

  

 

 

 

Previous Bulletins

 

Chief executive's bulletin

 
  

Exclusive LCR interview with Andrew Gwynne MP

This week we published LCR, which includes an interview with Labour's Andrew Gwynne, shadow secretary of state for Communities and Local Government. He encouraged more collaborative working between principal and local councils, saying: “Principal authorities shouldn’t view local councils as something to be suspicious of. They should see them as genuine partners for change within a community.” Other articles include a survey on local government reorganisation, NALC research on ethical standards, plus much more! To read these articles, subscribe to LCR.
 
Updated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) toolkit
 
NALC’s GDPR toolkit has been updated to reflect the new Data Protection Act 2018 and data protection regime. The changes include the appointment of a Data Protection Officer, which is not mandatory for all local (parish and town) councils, and information about paying the Information Commissioner’s data protection fee. The toolkit is available in the Development Tools section of the member's area.
 
Roundtable on rural buses
 
Among the objective in our strategic plan is extending our reach across government and building links to promote local councils and our policy campaigns. I am delighted we’ve been invited to attend a ministerial roundtable on rural buses by Nusrat Ghani MP, parliamentary under-secretary of State at the Department for Transport. We are being asked to input on how rural buses can be better supported and services improved for those living and working in rural communities, so I would welcome your views! I’d also like feedback on your experience of the 37 total transport pilots launched in 2015, as well as initiatives such as Network Integration, Community Transport and Demand Responsive Transport, but especially examples of community transport projects you are involved in. Please, drop me a line by 7 September at: policycomms@nalc.gov.uk  thank you.
 
Annual Conference
 
Our Annual Conference is now just under two months away! As well as putting together an excellent programme of speakers and workshops, we’ve also been working hard to expand our exhibition. In addition, to some of our partners, and headline sponsors; BHIB Councils, CCLA and Blachere Illumination, there will be new faces joining us including; Energy Saving Trust (advice on energy efficiency and cutting costs), The Good Exchange, (provide funding to local councils running community projects) and Proludic (providers of play and sports equipment). Keep your eyes peeled for further speaker and exhibitor announcements.
 
Princes Countryside Fund launches report
 
The findings of the Princes Countryside Fund’s Recharging Rural report on how life is experienced in rural areas of the UK will come as no surprise to us all as their research highlights how rural communities are coming together to improve their quality of life but feel as though they are becoming more remote. Read more including our reaction in our news story.
 
Standing orders and government funding
 
A couple of additions and clarifications to information in my recent bulletins. Firstly, as reported last week we have amended the model standing orders templates for England and Wales – details of the changes are contained in the accompanying briefing (L09-18), so do please take the time to read this. And secondly, I wanted to share the weblinks of two important funds recently launched by Government – the Building Connections Fund for projects to prevent or reduce loneliness, and the Integrated Communities Innovation Fund for projects using innovative approaches to tackle the barriers to integration and build integrated communities.
 
Communities Conference postponed

And finally, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have confirmed to us that they are postponing their Communities Conference 2018, which was originally scheduled for 7 September. I will keep you up-to-date once more information becomes available.



 

 

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Improvement and Development Board

The Improvement and Development Board (IDB) - which brings together NALC and county associations, Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) and their branches, Local Government Association (LGA) and Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to oversee delivery of the improvement strategy – met on 17 July, here are a few highlights:

  • the Board received an update on the Diversity Commission and discussed proposed activity to support our parish elections campaign
  • proposals to increase CiLCA fees to ensure the qualification covered its costs were agreed
  • a seminar involving NALC, LGA and councils from the Super Councils Network in Chippenham on 31 July would be making further progress on peer challenge pilots

JPAG

The Joint Panel for Accounting Guidance (JPAG) - another multi-agency group comprising NALC, SLCC, Association of Drainage Authorities, MHCLG, National Audit Office, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and external auditors, met today, highlights include:

  • considering feedback from councils and others on the 2018 practitioners guide, with a project team established to produce a revised guide for 2019
  • around 17% of councils had yet to return their annual governance and accountability return to their external auditors and the Panel urged them to do so as soon as possible

LGA chairman to address annual conference

I’m delighted to announce that Lord Porter of Spalding, chairman of LGA will be a keynote speaker at our annual conference on 30/31 October 2018 in Milton Keynes. The straight-talking council leader and Peer is No. 11 in LGC’s local government powerlist, a prominent figure in the House of Lords and national media on local government issues, and judging by his talks to our previous events won’t be shy in sharing his views on the future of local councils! You can book your place here, don’t forget the early bird rates (saving you 25%!) end on 31 July.

Roundtable on loneliness

Our work gathering examples of how local councils are changing and doing more increasingly shows our sector stepping up to help tackle some of the big issues facing our communities such as health and well-being, housing, transport, connectivity and economic development. Another big issue is loneliness and I was delighted our vice chairman Cllr Keith Stevens attended a roundtable on 19 July hosted by government ministers Lord Gardiner and Tracey Crouch MP to discuss the development of a national strategy on loneliness. We have submitted a number of examples of projects by local councils as part of the call for evidence, huge thanks to those of you who responded to my recent request. Two important funds were also announced this week: Building Connections Fund of £11.5 to support projects that are able to prevent or reduce loneliness; and the Integrated Communities Innovation Fund for projects using innovative approaches to tackle the barriers to integration and build integrated communities.

Local Trust research report

An interesting report on The Future of Communities was published recently by IVAR for Local Trust and helpfully argues “that there is a strong argument for extending parish and town council structures, with their power to raise a precept”, notes the challenge of ensuring they are truly democratic, accountable and credible, and also recognises NALC’s work with Community Organisers which we have welcomed.

MHCLG select committee

And finally, Keith will be representing NALC again next week when he gives oral evidence to the MHCLG select committee on the impact of Brexit on local government – you can watch the session live on Monday 23 July from 16.00 at Parliament TV. The committee’s chairman Clive Betts MP was at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Local Government summer event earlier this week and in the Local Government Information Unit write-up you might just spot a photo of our head of policy and communications Justin Griggs and Cllr Clare Horrocks from Sutton Coldfield Town Council (just out of shot) briefing Clive on developments in the sector!

  

 

 

 

Chief executive's bulletin

 
Local Government Association (LGA) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2018

This week I was in Birmingham with Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, and other NALC and county association colleagues at the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2018.

I was delighted to hear several positive mentions of our tier of local government in speeches and sessions including the speech by James Brokenshire MP, secretary of state, who said: "the power of local government to be an incredible force for good – not as a distant, faceless bureaucracy, but, from the biggest unitary to the smallest parish council, as the heartbeat of the communities it serves.”
 
Our exhibition stand was popular once again and visited by a number of delegates to discuss local councils, our One Community report with the LGA, as well as the work of NALC and county associations. Given our fringe event was the morning after the England game (is it coming home?), we managed to pull in quite a crowd to debate the future of local councils with our panel of speakers – you can read the headlines on my Twitter, and the video will be available next week. Cllr Sue Baxter also met with a range of local government figures including; Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands, Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, Lord Gary Porter, chairman of the LGA, Cllr Peter John, chair of London Councils and Dave Hodgson, vice-chairman of LGA’s Improvement Board.

In his own conference speech the local government minister Rishi Sunak MP – who made a beeline for the NALC stand when he arrived to catch up with Cllr Sue Baxter – launched a new digital pledge backed by £7.5m of government funding to help local councils transform their online services. We discussed the announcement with his officials and will follow up on how our councils can get involved and access funding.

Huge thanks to Cllr Mike Scott, Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils, Gail Power, Shropshire Association of Local Councils and Cllr Clare Horrocks, Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, and others, who joined us throughout the week.
 
NALC at events
 
A number of NALC colleagues have also been out and about this week. Gary Barker, solicitor, spoke at the Suffolk Association Local Councils larger councils meeting about the Ledbury Case, payments to churches and the Direct Access Scheme. Ben Murray, policy and projects officer was at the Community Organisers course in Warwickshire. And Jane Moore, head of legal and solicitor, spoke at the Devon Association of Local Councils event on subjects including the code of conduct and ways of working with county associations.
 
Rural isolation roundtable

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, rural ambassador, and Tracey Crouch MP, ministerial lead on loneliness, have invited NALC to participate in a discussion on rural loneliness on 19 July and I am keen to get your views in advance of that meeting. The discussion will provide an opportunity to update stakeholders on the government’s plans to tackle loneliness and support stronger connections across society. One particular issue they are interested in is how loneliness affects people living in rural areas, the main problems and the best solutions to these. Please send your comments to policycomms@nalc.gov.uk by 16 July – thank you!
 
Updated legal guidance
 
And finally, a number of Legal Topic Notes (LTN) have been updated including LTN 31 on Section 137 spending limit and several others to bring them in line with the new General Data Protection Regulation.