NALC Chief Executives Bulletin

Chief executive's bulletin 


NALC chairman addresses Lords Committee
 
NALC submitted written evidence to the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee and on 23 October 2018 our chairman Cllr Sue Baxter gave evidence to the Committee alongside representatives from Cornwall Council and the Local Government Association. Cllr Baxter answered questions on rural proofing, devolution, local (parish and town) councils working with principal authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships, housing and planning, and funding. You can watch the session again on Parliament.tv


Joint Panel for Audit Guidance (JPAG)
 
JPAG met on 15 October, here are a few key points: 

  • Feedback was received from Smaller Authorities Audit Appointments (SAAA) on this year’s external audit regime and JPAG noted this had been a major change and there would be a full assessment of lessons learnt
  • Terms of reference were agreed for a technical working group tasked with reviewing and producing the practitioner’s guide – if you have any comments on the guide please let us know via nalc@nalc.gov.uk so we can pass these on to JPAG’s chairman Phil Camomile of the Association of Drainage Authorities

Rural Coalition
 
The Rural Coalition met earlier this week, highlights include: 

  • A parliamentary event is being planned on 21 November 2018 to raise the profile of affordable housing in rural areas
  • I gave an update on our ongoing work to strengthen neighbourhood planning including sharing our recent research report
  • The Royal Society for the Arts gave a presentation on its food, farming and countryside commission, which I’m pleased is developing a very positive role for local councils! We will be feeding in our views to the final report due in June 2019, you can read more about its work as well as contribute your own ideas, and please copy us in too.

New legal guidance

  • Following a review of our previous position on the general power of competence (GPC), including seeking a barrister’s opinion, it is now our view that eligible local councils are able to set up companies and trade.
  • Legal Topic Note (LTN) 31 has been updated to consider local council general powers namely section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, GPC and the power of well-being in Wales. The LTN sets out NALC’s revised view that the absence of a power enabling local councils to trade prior to the GPC coming into force does not equate to a pre-commencement limitation. As such, eligible councils can exercise the GPC to set up companies and trade. Councils are still advised to seek legal advice before proceeding. You can read LTN 31 on the NALC website (login required).
  • I think this review and a new position is a really important and helpful step for the sector and I would urge councils to consider how this ‘power to innovate’ can be used to support your work.

And finally...

I’m really looking forward to seeing many of you at next week’s sold-out Annual Conference – if you’re not able to be there stay tuned to #NALCConf18 on Twitter for all the action.
  

 

 

 

Previous 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!