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Councillor Commission report

The Voice of the Councillor
The Councillor Commission – organised by the local government magazine The MJ and De Montfort University Leicester and supported by NALC – publish its final report ‘The Voice of The Councillor’ this week do read it and consider its findings and recommendations.

When the Commission was launched NALC pressed for our sector and our 10,000 councillors not to be overlooked, securing representation on the Commission and a dedicated stream of work to ensure the voice of parish and town councillors was heard. The 124 page report (which is in plain language and easy to read!) includes a dedicated chapter on parish and town councillors and four specific recommendations out of the twenty in total.

The Commission heard specific messages from parish and town councillors which indicated the differences in their roles compared to those of principal authority councillors and heard about the very specific issues that relate only to parish and town councils. Consequently, the report recommends

NALC CEO, Jonathan Owen is extremely grateful to Cllr Mike Evans of Whiteley Town Council and chairman of the Hampshire county association for his vital contribution as the parish commissioner and NALC will be exploring with Mike and the Commission next steps including promotion of the report including discussing it with government and others.

Click here for an Executive Summary of the report



Rural Coalition Good Practice Case Studies

The Rural Coalition is twelve national organisations (which includes NALC) who subscribe to a vision for a living and working countryside in England. Given many shared values, we seek to be more influential by joining in common cause. Below we set out our key principles, policies and actions which we would urge the Government to apply to rural communities.

Our policy principles

The Rural Coalition believes that the following four principles should underpin policy making:

The Rural Coalition believes that the evidence points to four policy priorities

Rural Coalition


The Rural Coalition has produced Good Practice Case Studies read more here

The Good Councillors Guide to Neighbourhood Planning

NALC has announced the publication of the Good Councillors Guide to Neighbourhood Planning. This guide is the first of its kind and is aimed at local councillors who are interested in finding out more about their role in relation to neighbourhood planning.

The guide is available now to download from our Members Area.




Reform of data protection legislation

NALC published legal briefing L03-17 Reform of data protection legislation and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation which confirms legislative changes that will come into effect in May 2018.

This legal briefing is in our members area.


Neighbourhood Planning Bill approved

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill was among a group of 22 bills to receive Royal Assent on 27th April ahead of the dissolution of Parliament before the General Election.

The Bill includes provisions aimed at strengthening the role of neighbourhood planning, including requirements that decision-makers take account of "well-advanced" neighbourhood plans, and that such plans have full legal effect once they have passed a referendum.

plans dreamtime
The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 contains new powers for the government to direct two or more local authorities to develop joint plans. County councils will also have the power to prepare plans where districts do not have one.

It also includes restrictions on powers to impose planning conditions, including on local authority use of pre-commencement conditions, which now require written consent from the developer to be enforced.



Election of Chairman and Annual Parish Council Meetings

By the end of May every parish council should have held their Annual Parish Council Meeting, and the Chairman of the parish council should have called the Annual Parish Meeting (which must be held by 1st June each year).

We know that there is still confusion in some quarters about the requirements in relation to these meetings.

To summarise:.



New 2017 edition of Good Councillors Guide

7th ed Good councillors guide

A new edition of the Good Councillors Guide is now available. It can be downloaded for free from the members are of the NALC website (the username and password are in the Members Area of our website) or printed copies are available from OALC - £3 per copy + £1.20 p&p per copy



Updated March 2017 edition of Governance and Accountability

The Joint Practitioners Advisory Group (JPAG) has published an updated  Governance and Accountability Guide. At their February meeting JPAG approved some modest amendments to the wording of the guide and while the content is not greatly changed a minor error affecting parish meetings has been corrected and some of the explanations in Part 5 have been made clearer.

This new 2017 edition of the guide applies to the statutory reporting of the financial year 2017/18, however JPAG has authorised the early adoption of the guide for 2016/17 on a voluntary basis, with the decision whether to do so resting with individual councils.

A copy is in the Members Area of our website.


NALC Star Council Awards 2017

NALC launched their third Star Councils 2017 Awards. The Star Councils 2017 Awards play a key part in NALC’s call for more power to be devolved from Whitehall to England’s towns, villages and neighbourhoods, which is why they would like everyone to submit nominations to highlight the good work councils are doing across the country. This year NALC are looking to place an emphasis on non-traditional service activity in the council project category focussing on all aspects of health and well-being.



Restricting increases in parish precpts

Below is a letter from Cllr Sue Baxter, Chairman, NALC

She is clearly signaling that ministers have deferred introducing a cap on precepts through the mechanism of a referendum if the increase is above a set level but that the deferral is conditional. Our sector of local government has had this particular sword of Damocles hanging over us for many years and the threat does not appear to be going away. There is a continuing failure by those in central government to grasp that while the percentage rise might be in the order of say 15% the actual amounts are very small (6p per week) when compared to those of the District or County Council.

Town and parish councils need to put more effort into communicating with your tax payers in your parish, tell them what you spend their money on, how you budget, don’t assume that people understand what a precept is. By educating your community they will hopefully come to understand what a good and efficient service you provide for them so that when they get their precept bill they will understand the line in the bill which says XXXX parish council 10% increase. They will know that the council negotiated a new grass cutting contract, that it made grants to vital village organisations and that 10% actually represents good value for money.

nalc new logo

Dear Colleague,                                                                                                                                              10th March 2017


In December the government decided not to extend council tax referendum principles to any size of parish or town council for the 2017/18 financial year.

This was a direct result of extensive advocacy by NALC on your behalf to ensure councils continue to have the freedom and flexibility to set budgets according to local needs and priorities.

I very much welcomed this decision given the important and indeed growing role our councils play in communities and local democracy and I am pleased the secretary of state acknowledged this in his statement to the House of Commons and has listened to the sector’s concerns.

However the decision is very much a deferral and the government has issued a clear challenge to the sector to demonstrate restraint.

This point was reiterated to me in a letter from the local government minister which we circulated through the chief executive’s weekly bulletin, but given the importance of this issue I wanted to draw to your attention again some of his key points:

Just this week the minister was interviewed for the forthcoming Spring edition of LCR and it is clear parish precepts remains very much a priority as he took the opportunity to restate his challenge to the sector to demonstrate restraint, stressing he had not taken extending council tax referendums to parishes off table, but adding he was also keen to work with NALC to promote other ways to fund local projects. This latter point we will be following up with him as we are keen to help councils by publishing some guidance on income generation.

However in terms of parish precepts themselves, the government’s own figures show increases to parish precepts in recent years have been very modest – going up by on average 6 pence per week – and we know this has been a direct consequence of councils taking on additional responsibilities such as services from principal councils, an increase in costs including National Insurance and funding not being passed on for example council tax support funding.

What you can do

While I have no doubt councils will respond positively to the government’s challenge in setting precepts for the forthcoming year I wanted to stress the importance of engaging with residents over increases and being transparent about how their money is spent.

On this latter point I want to encourage councils to step up their efforts to explain spending decisions and significant increases in precept in particular. This may include use of public meetings, newsletters and other publications, the local press such as newspapers or radio, social media including Facebook and Twitter, council websites, notice boards and information sent out with or at the same time as council tax demands.

I am very keen for us to share good practice in this area hence I would be grateful if you could tell us what you are doing so we can promote this more widely.

There are a number of other things we are doing to help councils such as developing good practice on income generation as mentioned above as well as on consultation and we will be publishing these in coming months.

We will of course be continuing to engage with the government to ensure they fully understand what is going on at the local level.

Finally I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for everything you do. While these are challenging times for local government I am very proud of the role our councils play in improving our communities as I know you are increasingly doing more. Local services remain under severe pressure and I know our councils are often stepping up to the plate taking on new responsibilities and services.

Yours sincerely,







If you are two months or more in arrears with your Council Tax you cannot vote on the precept

Private eye logo

Private Eye conducted an investigation into local authority councillors that were in arrears with their council tax. They sent a Freedom of Information request to 377 local authorities and the results have been mapped on their website

If a councillor is in arrears for at least two months with their council tax they are prevented from voting on setting of the precept, or any decision relevant to that precept, Local Government Finance Act 1992, section 106.

The question arose as to whether this also applied to town and parish councillors. The short answer is YES. Please remember this when it comes to precept time.

The long answer supplied by NALC is the 1992 Act states that the section applies to local authorities as covered by sections 94 and 97 of the Local Government Act 1972. The problem is the definition of ‘local authority’ for those sections of the 1972 Act was in section 98 of the 1972 Act and all of those sections were repealed from 22 May 2012 by the Local Government Act 2000 but the 1992 Act was not modified to include a new definition. The result is that strictly there is no relevant definition of ‘local authority’ but the repealed sections of the 1972 Act used an extended form of the definition of local authority in section 270 of the 1972 Act which includes a Parish Council. Therefore if asked a court would hold that a Parish Council is covered by section 106 of the 1992 Act. Thus any parish councillor who is in arrears of council tax for two months or more cannot vote on the precept or associated matters. This restriction is absolute and cannot be removed by a dispensation.



Section 137 Local Government Act 1972 limit for 2017- 8 announced

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the appropriate sum for parish councils for the purposes of section 137(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972 for 2017-2018 is £7.57.



Separate trade union for clerks - Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC)

ALCC logoSLCC logo

If your clerk is a member of the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC), and we hope they are, please read this:

In October 2016 the professional body for the parish and town council sector, the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) reorganised its business and corporate governance structures and a separate, independent trade union was formed which will be called the Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC)

The Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC) is the only trade union dedicated to supporting people working in the local council sector across England and Wales.

On its website it states “We are committed to serving the interests of our members and stand for their right to be respected, listened to and treated fairly whilst at work. Our members benefit from professional support, advice and representation in accordance with our approved terms of service.”

Henceforth, any SLCC member who is seeking advice about their personal employment circumstances (rather than advice for their role of Clerk to a council) will be referred to the ALCC Advice Centre and a separate membership fee will be levied annually.  ALCC will provide advice and can represent their members at hearings related to their employment e.g. disciplinary, grievance, or redundancy negotiations.

The annual fee for the ALCC will be £10 for an individual whose council is already a member of SLCC or £50 for those who do not have SLCC membership.  This membership fee is for the employee’s own account whereas the council can, and usually does pay the SLCC fee.

The ALCC has membership from over 2,000 councils across England and Wales.

More information is available on

NALC logo

NALC publish Devo+ with a case study of Oxfordshire

NALC has published its own guide, Devo+ to help local councils through the complexities of devolution. It is called the Devo + toolkit and promotes onward devolution to local councils and communities.

The booklet is here


Plunkett Foundation

Plunkett Foundation - Call to Action

This call to action aims to raise awareness within Town and Parish Councils across the UK of the potential for community co-operatives to address problems local communities are facing and the support available from the Plunkett Foundation.

Our goal is to provide Town and Parish Councils with the tools and information they need to either get involved directly, or to pass onto other community groups and individuals in their locality.

The Plunkett Foundation and Rural Community Co-operatives

The Plunkett Foundation is a national charity that helps communities across the UK to set up and run community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. Community co-operatives help people to tackle a wide range of issues, from social isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many different forms including community shops, pubs, cafes, woodlands, food and farming enterprises and anything in between. Since 1919, Plunkett has supported over 500 such enterprises to set up by providing help, advice, and when funding allows, financial support. 

Our strategy

Plunkett’s 2015-17 strategy aims to build on our achievements to date, and inspire an even larger movement of people who solve their challenges by running community co-operatives. Key ambitions within the strategy include:

Call to Action

It is very rare for Town and Parish Councils to be directly involved in the setting up or running or community co-operatives, but in our experience, they have been critical to the early stages of their journey in some way. Very often, it is the Town or Parish Council that has spotted an opportunity to save a valued asset or service, or called a public meeting, or highlighted potential avenues of funding.

This call to action, sets out the various ways in which Town and Parish Councils can get involved.  

7 ways to take action:

  1. Consider registering land and buildings in your community as an Asset of Community Value (or support another community group to do so).
    • The 2011 Localism Act allows communities and parish councils to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an Asset of Community Value.
    • In the event a listed asset comes to be sold, a moratorium on the sale (of up to six months) may be invoked, providing local community groups with a better chance to raise finance, develop a business and to make a bid to buy the asset.
    • More information is available in this helpful tool produced by Locality or visit the Locality website at
  2. Explore developing a parish or neighbourhood plan, and incorporate the community ownership solution to problems highlighted by your residents
    • Neighbourhood Planning was introduced in 2012 to enable communities to have more say in the future development, regeneration and conservation of their area. Plans are based on a robust programme of community engagement and consultation of the views, aspirations, wants and needs of local people and can become part of the statutory development plan for the area.
    • By going through the Neighbourhood Planning process, you will certainly identify problems your community is facing, and potentially opportunities for community ownership to be part of that solution.
    • More information is available in this helpful tool produced by CPRE or visit the CPRE website at
  3. Promote the concept of community ownership and the support available from the Plunkett Foundation via your community newsletter and website
    • The Plunkett Foundation offer free support by phone, via our website and through our national network of advisers.
    • A guide to the support we can offer and how we work is appended here or can be found at You may wish to signpost a link to this on your website, or refer it to the editor of your parish newsletter.
  4. Call a public meeting in the event an asset or service in your community becomes at risk, and help to establish an independent working party to consider the community ownership approach.
    • If a valued service or asset is at risk of being lost to your community, e.g. the last village shop, or a popular community building such as a pub, club or faith based building, you could call a public meeting to seek views on whether there is appetite to save it in community ownership. Plunkett can send guidance for running such a meeting, including presentations, case studies and explanatory guides.
    • This doesn’t mean it is the responsibility of the Town/Parish Council to lead the next steps – the purpose of the meeting is to establish whether there is appetite for an independent working party to be established.
  5. Support community groups that are exploring community ownership by joining their committee, or contributing to their feasibility costs
    • Once an independent working party is established to assess the demand and feasibility for a community owned enterprise, it can be helpful for the Town/Parish Council to nominate a councillor to be part of the group.  Their local knowledge and understanding of the planning system could be vital to the groups success.
    • Alternatively, or additionally, you might want to issue a small bursary award to the community group to help them with early stage feasibility and planning costs. This might be to fund meeting room space, printing, consultation exercises or professional fees. 
  6. Consider purchasing the asset the community is exploring through a Public Works Loan and rent or lease the asset back to the community
    • Town and Parish Councils (subject to eligibility criteria) have access to affordable public loan finance (Public Works Loan) which they could apply for and use to purchase the asset the community has in mind. Once in parish ownership, it could then chose to donate, rent or lease to the community co-operative for them to take on the day to day management. 
    • More information on Public Works Loan finance is available here or visit
  7. Join the Plunkett Foundation for £75 as a contribution towards helping other rural communities access community ownership advice and support.
    • Plunkett receives over 750 new enquiries each year from town and parish councils and other community groups seeking advice on community ownership. This service is currently provided free of charge, but it is only possible through a combination of donations, membership income and some project income.
    • You don’t need to be a member to receive advice from Plunkett, but members do benefit from regular news updates, bulletins and invitations to networking events and meetings.
    • You can join Plunkett by visiting


Rural England

State of Rural Services - Rural England

Today (17th January 2017) sees the publication of the first State of Rural Services report to be published by Rural England.

It recognises that providing accessible and quality services to rural communities poses particular challenges given the geography of small and scattered settlements. And these difficulties are further compounded by the loss of economies of scale, additional travel required and the delivery costs involved.

However, innovation and good practice can address many challenges, often by working with local communities including through local (parish and town) councils. Also the report finds that having a sound evidence base about rural services is equally important.

According to Rural England (NALC is a stakeholder member of the group), this report has been produced in response to growing concerns about the state of knowledge. Policy makers and those delivering services need a proper understanding of the position and trends in order to take informed decisions. It is the aim of this report to inform policy debate and to assist policy making for the benefit of rural residents and businesses.

The full report is here

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, commented:

NALC welcomes the publication of this authoritative report on the state of rural england in 2016. England’s 10,000 parish councils play a huge and increasing role in these communities and would recognize the reports conclusions that access to services particularly transport and broadband are falling behind urban areas and that community volunteering including involvement in parish councils is key to the quality of rural life. NALC would call on the government to support and encourage this volunteering and ensure that the needs of rural areas are not overlooked as Brexit gains pace.”


NALCsue Baxter

Letter from Cllr Sue Baxter, new Chairman, NALC

To all parish and town councillors in England

As the new chairman of NALC, I hope you have a really great 2017 and wish you all the very best for the New Year!

Local councils, their clerks and 80,000 councillors do a brilliant job on behalf of their communities and I would like to thank you all for the work you do. I look forward to working with you over the coming year to make the sector even more respected, effective and clearly recognised as the first tier of local government in England.

I would like to particularly congratulate the following people for receiving New Year Honours:

Barnaby Usborne (MBE), former chair of the Lee Parish Council, Buckinghamshire; Cllr Eric Carter (BEM), New Frankley Parish Council, Birmingham; Cllr Jane Coston, chair of Milton Parish Council, Cambridgeshire; Cllr Derek Old, Ibberton Parish Council, North Devon; Cllr Gordon Routledge, Arthuret Parish Council, Cumbria; Cllr John Clowes, Holmes Chapel Parish Council, Cheshire; Cllr Peter Bromell, Tedburn St Mary Parish Council, North Devon; Cllr Sheila Bruce, Kinnerley Parish Council, Shropshire; and Doug Haynes, clerk to Beeston Parish Council, Cheshire

I feel very proud to have been elected as chairman of NALC especially as there probably has never been a more exciting time to hold this important office:

• Local councils are well placed to address the sense of disengagement felt by communities from traditional politics and governance; such a feature of 2016.

• We are the only growing sector of local government. 2016 saw the creation of Kidderminster and Sutton Coldfield town councils and we currently have 150 communities working towards creating parish councils including in, Swindon, Ashford, Lowestoft, London and Birmingham. The growth of garden villages will add an increased force to this movement. NALC’s ambition of seeing the whole of England parished has never been more realistic.

• Local councils are doing incredible things. Recent research for NALC identified extensive involvement in “big ticket” items – 15% of councils said they were delivering health and wellbeing services and 12% active in economic development. Encouragingly 70% of councils said they wanted to add such services to their remit.

• We are at the forefront of neighbourhood planning leading 90% of them and using them to shape communities and boost housing provision. These areas have 10% extra housing compared to those without neighbourhood plans.

• Local councils are also working with principal councils helping with the austerity and devolution agenda, and running discretionary services, which would otherwise cease.

A big part of NALC’s work is to lobby government, national bodies and the media on your behalf and we will continue to do this in 2017:

• We will press for more effective powers for the sector and in particular to see neighbourhood plans strengthened, their influence enhanced and their recognition as a key building block of local communities.

• We will push for strengthened local democracy, making it easier to create new councils, to reduce the number of vexatious parish polls by increasing the number of electors required to trigger them and seek widespread support for encouraging people to get involved in councils and stand for elections.

• We will work with the Local Government Association to make sure principal authorities see us as part of the solution to their financial problems. Principal authorities need to work more closely with local councils giving them time to prepare to take over discretionary services, to engage them in meaningful dialogue particularly around planning and development and to support the creation of local councils across the country.

I want to see NALC continue to improve its influence with government and its services to you. Good progress has been made and our overall membership stands at the highest ever. I will work with the 42 other councillor representatives from county associations which manage NALC to ensure it is well run, works smartly, and provides the value for money services you want. NALC only exists to help councils help their communities.

Our strategic plan set by councillors at each year’s AGM will continue to set our priorities and over 2017. We intend progressing the following issues on your behalf:

• Embedding the new external audit service through the sector led body we set up in 2016 – SAAA (Smaller Authorities Audits Appointments) Ltd.

• Raising the sector’s profile in parliament through our third lobby day on 28th March 2017

• Package of support on devolved services

• Addressing issues related to the code of conduct and standards regime

I will also continue to foster the “team” approach with county associations setting NALC’s agenda, providing key local services and supporting lobbying work with MPs, Government and others. Further I encourage county associations to invite me to speak at their events or visit their local areas.

I will need your help with all this and in particular:

• To ensure your councils are well run, adequately resourced to do the job, with trained staff and councillors working on priorities your residents want.

To make sure your councils are financially prudent and transparent and engage fully with residents when any large precept increases are being considered – this is vital if we are to continue to successfully resist the application of referenda principles. And please if you are a small council access the £5m transparency grants available through NALC.

• To consider joining the other hundreds of councils accredited through the local council award scheme. This will demonstrate compliance with new transparency arrangements, provide an independent verification of your effectiveness to residents and enable us to demonstrate to Government and others that the sector is well run

• Get involved in the work of your county and national association. Identify issues you would like to see addressed or raised nationally. Propose policy motions for potential legislative change. Persuade non-member councils to become part of the movement. Stand for election to county associations and national council

• Communicate effectively with your residents, use the new media available, engage with your local MPs and opinion formers and let NALC know the amazing work you are doing through Council Spotlight ( ) and Star Councils ( ) so we can showcase your efforts to the wider world.

• Put the dates of NALC’s Annual Conference in your diary and register for a place. It is going to take place on 1/2 November. This is already the largest event in the sector and I want it to be at the centre of policy making and the networking event to share good practice, celebrate the sector and understand current challenges such as devolution and Brexit.

I believe local people understand the needs of their area best. There must be the transfer of more powers, so people can make more decisions locally, solve their own problems and create strong, attractive and thriving neighbourhoods.

If 2016 taught us anything it was that some communities feel left behind by our national economy and politics. Local councils and the work they do to support these.

Best regards

Cllr Sue Baxter, Chairman

National Association of Local Councils


Community Housing Fund LSE housing blog

In the Budget 2016, a £60 million fund was announced to support community-led housing developments in areas where the impact of second homes is particularly acute. DCLG are now informing local authorities what their funding allocation for 2016/17 financial year is.

The fund will enable local community groups to deliver affordable housing units of mixed tenure on sites which are likely to be of little interest to mainstream housebuilders and will thereby contribute to the overall national effort to boost housing supply. The fund will also help build collaboration, skills and supply chains at a local level to promote the sustainability of this approach to housebuilding. The fund will enable capital investment, technical support and revenue to be provided to make more schemes viable and significantly increase community groups’ current delivery pipelines. The funding is allocated between local authorities proportionate to the number of holiday homes in the local area and taking account of the affordability of housing to local people.

In bringing this fund forward, the Department has worked closely with the National Community Land Trust Network and other members of the community-led housing sector. These organisations are well placed to offer advice on how the funds may be most effectively deployed (including, potentially, through registered providers of affordable housing).

Payments of funding will be made in two tranches; the first being paid now. The second tranche will follow in early 2017 subject to your authority providing satisfactory evidence that the money is being spent in accordance with the objectives outlined in the Budget announcement. Similarly, from 2017/18 onwards, allocations will depend in part on how the 2016/17 allocation has been spent.

Should you have any questions about this funding, please contact Nigel Kersey at:

In Oxfordshire according to the table which accompanies the letter from DCLG, the district councils have been allocated:


Battles Over

Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute - 11th November 2018


On the 3rd August 1914, Britain’s Foreign Minister, Sir Edward Grey, was looking out of his office window. It was dusk, and gas lights were being lit along London’s Mall, leading to Buckingham Palace, when he remarked to a friend, "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”. Our country was about to be plunged into the darkness of the First World War, and it would be four long years before Britain and Europe would again experience the light of peace

In commemoration and remembrance of the end of the war and the many millions who were killed or came home dreadfully wounded, a chain of 1,000 beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories at 7pm on the 11th November 2018 – a century after the guns fell silent.

You will be pleased to know therefore, that more than 320 town and parish councils have already confirmed their involvement, and will be lighting a beacon at 7pm on 11th November 2018, as part of their plans for this important anniversary that day.

The event will also commemorate the huge army of men and women on the home front who, often in dangerous and exhausting conditions, underpinned the war effort - keeping the wheels of industry turning, bringing the harvests home and ensuring the nation did not starve.

The beacons will symbolise the ‘light of hope’ that emerged from the darkness of war, and we hope that your council and local community will join us in this important national commemoration on Sunday 11th November 2018, especially as the majority of you would have had a previous member of your family involved in this four year conflict, so will become a personal tribute in their memory.

Detailed co-ordination begins in April 2017, when we will publish a special Guide to Taking Part, similar to that produced for Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Beacons on 21st April this year. If you can confirm your involvement before the end of March 2017 we will be able to include your organisation in the guide’s acknowledgements pages before it is distributed to others encouraging their involvement too.

The reason for sending this information so far in advance, is because we understand from those already participating, they have started to plan their events for this commemoration.

Participating councils, organisations and community groups will receive a special certificate as a permanent reminder of their involvement in this special tribute.

There are a number of cost-effective ways of participating in the chain of beacons.

(1) Use existing beacon braziers on tall wooden poles erected in 1988 and for other recent anniversaries.

(2) Use gas-fueled beacons lit for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

(3) Use the gas-fueled VE beacons lit to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day in 2015.

(4) Use the gas-fueled beacons lit for The Queen's 90th birthday in April this year.

(5) Build a traditional bonfire beacon.

I would be grateful if you would confirm your involvement by providing me with the following details as soon as possible to ensure that you are included in the guide when published, and put on the events website at the end of April 2018.

Name of organisation:

Name of beacon co-ordinator:

Address of beacon co-ordinator:

Telephone number:

Mobile number:




Beacon location:

Please confirm if your beacon will be open to the public or will be lit at a private event for family and friends. This is important because private beacons will not be included in the acknowledgements pages of the guide but will be included in the list kept in memory of this unique occasion.

When planning your beacon, your local newspaper could help you in contacting a relative of someone who served their country in WWI so you can invite them to light your beacon. This will also help you to gain media coverage for your event while providing a personal and touching aspect to the occasion, so do hope your council will join us in this special tribute and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR

Pageantmaster, Battle's Over - A Nation's Tribute 11th November 2018

Tel: + 44 (0) 7737 262 913




No capping for 2017-8

Today (Thursday 15th December 2016) Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government confirmed in his speech that there would be no capping for town and parish councils in the coming financial year. However, he has deferred the proposal and expects councils to demonstrate restraint. Please see below the relevant extract from his speech:

Parish councils

However, last year we saw a worrying 6.1% rise in precepts by town and parish councils.

That’s why, earlier this year, we consulted on extending Council Tax referendum principles to larger town and parish councils.

These councils play an important role in our civic life. And I understand the practical considerations of scale.

So we will defer our proposals this year, while keeping the level of precepts set by town and parish councils under close review.

I expect all town and parish councils to clearly demonstrate restraint when setting increases that are not a direct result of taking on additional responsibilities.

I am also actively considering with the sector ways to make excessive increases more transparent to local taxpayers.




You can attend sessions of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local DemocracyHouses of Parliament


There are two sessions of the Local democracy All Party Parliamentary Group in the New Year which you can attend: a joint session with the Civic Societies APPG on housing and neighbourhood planning on 25 January with speakers including housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell MP; and a dedicated event with the secretary of state for DCLG Sajid Javid MP on 31 January!





The Councillor Commission issues its interim report (October 2016)

The quality and effectiveness of local government and local democracy rests on the contribution made to both by councillors as elected representatives. The office of councillor is one of the most fundamental political positions in any democracy and it is the political office through which localities, and the communities within them, are able to govern themselves. Councillors live in close proximity to those they govern, represent and serve and they are part of the communities about whom and for whom they make political decisions that will have lasting consequences for local well-being.

The Local Government Research Unit, in partnership with The Municipal Journal launched a Councillor Commission to conduct an independent review of the role and work of the councillor and of the contribution made by councillors to the governance of their communities and the country. The work of the Commission is being supported by Clive Betts, MP, Chair of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. Although the Commission is independent of the committee it will submit its final report to the chair of the committee for consideration.

The Interim Report is on the De Montfort University site here



Cabinet Office

Public Service Ombudsman Bill - NALC consultation

The Cabinet Office has published draft legislation setting out the Government’s plans for a new Public Service Ombudsman (PSO) which will abolish the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

The aims of the new body are to improve access to the Ombudsman’s services by: allowing for all complaints to be made with or without the help of a representative and in a variety of formats to meet the digital age; providing simpler access to individuals who believe that they have suffered injustice or hardship; and sharing the learning from failures to improve services for everyone. The Draft Bill proposes to bring parish and councils into scope of the new Ombudsman.

The link to the draft Bill can be found at: _public_service_ombudsman_bill_web_version.pdf .

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a consultation in March 2015 titled ‘Extending the remit of the Local Government Ombudsman to larger parish and town councils’, proposing to extend the redress available to the public by extending the jurisdiction of the LGO to larger parish and town councils responsible for substantial sums of public money and whose decisions affect a large number of people. The definitions consulted upon were councils whose population base was 35,000 or more, over £1m precept income, or a combination of population over 25,000 and £1m precept. We consulted members on whether the jurisdiction of the Local Government Ombudsman
should be extended to larger parish and town councils and how larger parish and town councils should be defined for this purpose.

The draft Bill would:
• Create a single Public Service Ombudsman for UK reserved matters and for public services delivered solely in England, absorbing the existing remits and responsibilities of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman.
• Abolish the existing Parliamentary Ombudsman, Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government Ombudsman.

Abolish the MP filter, meaning that all complaints of maladministration can be made directly to the PSO. Currently, complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman have to be made through an MP – this is known as the ‘MP filter’. Under the draft Bill MPs would still be able to submit complaints if constituents wanted them to.
• Create a statutory body, known as the Board of the Public Service Ombudsman, to provide staff and resources for the PSO to carry out her functions.
• Provide for Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of the Board
• Equip the PSO with powers to investigate complaints and to promote good complaints handling.
• The Housing Ombudsman is unaffected by the draft Bill and would continue. However, the draft Bill gives the Minister for the Cabinet Office the power to pass secondary legislation which would enable its responsibilities surrounding complaints against social landlords to be absorbed into the PSO’s remit at a later date.

Although the timescale for parliamentary passage is unclear – an issue we are picking up with Cabinet Office and DCLG – we would welcome your comments on the Bill as soon as possible, please e-mail your comments to by 17.00 on 24th January 2017.

There is a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper CBP 7864 on this here


Collective effort saves smaller authorities millions of pounds on new audit arrangements SAAA

The local (parish and town) council sector together with local drainage authorities has successfully taken charge of procuring their external audit saving millions of pounds for some 10,000 councils and drainage boards.

Following the abolition of the Audit Commission, smaller local authority representatives successfully persuaded government to allow them to collectively procure external audit services for smaller authorities (under £6.5 million) from 2017-18. All but a handful of the 10,000 local councils in England signed up for the collective procurement and appointment of external auditors; this is the first example of such an initiative, which is being replicated for principal authorities.

The company established by a consortium of smaller authorities sector bodies (National Association of Local Councils, Society of Local Council Clerks and the Association of Drainage Authorities) and authorised by the department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to undertake this role – SAAA (Smaller Authorities Audit Appointments) Ltd – has today (30 November) issued the following statement on its website (

SAAA Ltd is pleased to announce that it has successfully concluded the procurement process and has awarded contracts for the supply of limited assurance audit reviews for smaller authorities. Three audit firms have been appointed as suppliers for the five-year period commencing 1 April 2017: PKF Littlejohn, Mazars and Moore Stephens. Contracts have been signed ahead of schedule on terms that will enable SAAA to undertake its various tasks including the quality control and monitoring of suppliers without making any further call on public funds. Further details of the audit appointment areas to be covered by the three firms will be communicated in due course.”

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Jonathan Owen, Chief Executive of National Association of Local Councils (NALC), said: "This is a brilliant example of smaller authorities working together saving local authorities and councils many millions of pounds with the scale of fees set for the next 5 years substantially the same as that has applied to the sector for the last 10 years."


Community Asset Transfers


This guide, produced by Locality in partnership with the Local Government Association and the National Association for Local Councils, highlights the strategic importance of Community Asset Transfer (CAT) for councils and communities in England.

Community asset ownership isn’t new – there is a long and rich history going back centuries of communities owning and managing land and buildings2. More recently, CAT is the recognised mechanism to enable the community ownership and management of publicly owned land and buildings, to enhance social, economic or environmental wellbeing in local areas.

The positive opportunities as a result of CAT have been given fresh impetus by the present

Devolution agenda. However, there continues to be a need to inform and encourage councils to work with local people, Parish and Town Councils and other stakeholders to ensure that the role that CAT can play in building resilient communities and thriving neighbourhoods is maximised.

In order to help councils to be clear about the set up and ongoing resources required to get the process right, this guide reiterates the critical success factors that underpin CAT. There also advice on the risks and mitigating actions that should be considered, and a step-by-step approach to developing a fit for purpose CAT policy to help inform council decision making.

Therefore, whether your council is new to CAT and you are seeking to make the case for its strategic adoption, or you are looking to scale up and embed this approach across departments, this guide aims to help officers and members better understand how CAT can help support your council's priorities.




Planning Aid Direct – Service Change from 1st August 2016plans

Planning Aid Direct offers free and independent planning advice via e-mail at and guidance on a range of planning issues via the Planning Aid Direct web-site at:

The range of advice items on the Planning Aid Direct website is currently being updated and added to by Planning Aid staff.

NB: The telephone Advice Line has been temporarily suspended from 1st August. This is to allow Planning Aid to review its need, the capacity of others providing something similar and the potential for it to be developed in a more sustainable way.





Helping communities make the most of their landscape (2011) LI

The Landscape Institute produced this booklet in 2011 to inspire local communities and decision-makers to make the most of their land - at the same time helping wildlife flourish, reducing flood risk, providing green open space for all, and delivering a wide range of economic, health and community benefits. It still has relevance and might be of interest to your council.









Being a good employer 2016

being a good employer

All town and parish councils are employers.

Therefore all councillors need to be aware of their responsibilities as an employer. All councils would benefit from having a separate Personnel or Staffing Committee to discuss matters such as the clerks’ annual appraisal and pay which should not be considered in public.

To help your council understand more about its employment responsibilities NALC has updated Being a Good Employer. It will be available to download free from the Members Area of our website after the middle of June 2016 or as a printed booklet from OALC cost £3 per copy + £1.20 p&p



Resources to make things happen and improve your communityjust act

Just Act helps anyone involved with a community project to find information. The 10 Steps go through the key stages of running a project and the Knowledge Bank has information for different types of projects. - See more at:

There is a good case study arising from a study of 120 community buildings in Oxfordshire called Managing energy use in community buildings, more information here





New Regulations which allow removal of unnecessary road signsDCLG image for Traffic Regulation

New powers to remove pointless road signs that are an eyesore and distract drivers will be given to councils on 22 April 2016 under the The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016.

According to DCLG the number of signs on our roads, more than doubled from 2.45 million in England in 1993 to an estimated 4.57 million in 2013.

Now simpler rules are being brought in to give town halls the power to take down unnecessary signs and for the first time, signs that say ‘new’ layout ahead will have ‘remove by dates’ on the back so they are not needlessly left in place for years

Life is too short to read all 547 pages of the new Regulations which have come into force but if there are nugatory signs in your village we would suggest your council suggest their removal to the Highways Authority.


Council tax levels 2016-17National statistics

For those that are interested, National Statistics published on March 31st the annual statistics on council tax levels set for 2016-7.

They report that "The average Band D precept charged by a parish or charter trustee for 2016-17 will be £57.40, and increase of £3.28, or 6.1%, from 2015-16."

The report which goes into greater detail can be found here




Transparency Code wordle- there is money available for your council to get a website

By now your council and your clerk will be familiar with the requirements of the Transparency Code and should be compliant with it placing the required information on your council website.

Smaller councils (turnover under £25,000) should publish, on a freely available website, information about:

If your council does not have a website it will be eligible to receive a grant towards a computer and setting up a website to enable compliance with the Code.

Contact OALC for more information and an application form.

Nine councils in Oxfordshire have benefitted so far; £7,672 was paid out in the last financial year 2015-6 to 9 councils.

Spot checks will be made to ensure that the money was used in the required way but otherwise there are no strings attached. The sole purpose is to increase transparency, to enable councils to publish the required information and to make democracy more open to scrutiny, after all it is public money that town and parish councils is spending.




minimum wage

National Living Wage

The National Living Wage (NLW) comes into force on 1st April 2016, replacing the National Minimum Wage for all workers over the age of 25. The NLW is set at £7.20 per hour. The National Minimum Wage continues to apply to those under 25.

NALC has issued a briefing on this (E01-16) which is in the Members Area of the OALC website.

Is the pay of clerks affected? No. LC1 the lowest scale that applies to clerks starts at SCP15 – an hourly rate of £8.613.

However, councils may have other staff affected. The salary rate SCP 5 was deleted on 1st October 2015. This leaves SCP 6 and SCP7 below the NLW. Any council employee who is employed on SCP 6 or 7 should be paid at the NLW until such time as these grades exceed the NLW.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have guidance on calculating minimum pay entitlements.

For current pay scales see NALC briefing E03-14 in the Members Area of the OALC website.



NALC is campaigning for the government to introduce a limited third party right of appeal for town and parish councils to the planning Inspectorate against planning decisions

The planning system is one of the few decision-making processes that gives no right of appeal to affected third parties. NALC feels the government should introduce a limited third party right of appeal by giving parish councils a right to appeal planning decisions to the Planning Inspectorate.

NALC believes there is a fundamental imbalance in the planning system. Under current rules, if a council refuses a planning application, the applicant is allowed to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. If a council approves an application, no one has the right to appeal. With the national presumption in favour of sustainable development throwing the planning system into disarray, in the interest of justice, the government should give parish councils the right to appeal planning decisions.

If your council feels strongly about this then you might like to sign the petition which is here

The closing date is 19th April, so far there are 8,954 signatures. If 10,000 signatures are gained the government will have to respond. And if 100,000 signatures are reached then it will be considered for debate in parliament.



Neighbourhood Plan Roadmap - new updated edition available

This guide is for all those involved in, or thinking about, producing a Neighbourhood Plan, and for those who are just curious to find out more. Whilst other guides are predominantly concerned with the legislation and process, Locality has attempted, wherever possible, to include guidance on good practice and worksheets for carrying out each part of the plan. It is available here

Locality Roadmap


Flatpack democracy - politics without the parties - Frome Town Council, Somerset

Flatpack democracy

On 7 May last year a small Somerset town voted against traditional party politics and gave a coalition of independents control of all 17 seats on its council. As the crucible of ‘flatpack democracy’, Frome is leading a small-scale political revolution.

Read more here in an article from The Independent newspaper. Food for thought......




ONS logo

Do you need statistics for your parish?

OALC raised sometime ago with NALC and ONS the problem of the lack availability of small area statistics for Parish Meetings with less than 100 population or 40 households..

In light of this, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK's largest independent producer of official statistics, is undertaking a review of the availability of information on a small area.

ONS conducts the census in England and Wales every 10 years. Following the 2011 Census, around 10% of Civil Parishes in England had a population too small to be allocated a population estimate. In these instances, statistics were not released for these civil parishes. ONS provided 2011 Census population estimates (number of households, males and females only) at the postcode level.

The ONS recognises the importance of producing statistics for parishes. They have subsequently undertaken research to identify a solution where statistical data could be published for the majority of parishes.

They want to share the findings of this research with you and understand your requirements for statistics at the civil parish level. You can do so by reading the research and completing their questionnaire.

You can respond using the online survey: or submit a MS Word version via email to or by post to:

ONS Geography Customer Services, Office for National Statistics, Segensworth Road, Titchfield, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5RR

The Review is now open and will close on 7th March 2016. They will publish an initial summary of findings within 12 weeks of the Review closing date. Your response will be treated in accordance with their privacy policy. If you have any queries about the Review please email or ring 01329 444971.




Lord Taylor of Goss Moor is to be the new president of the National Association of Local Councils

Matthew Taylor

C The Planner

A meeting of NALC’s governing body unanimously approved the appointment of the widely respected Liberal Democrat Peer and former Member of Parliament.

Lord Taylor said: "It was a real honour and a privilege to be asked to be NALC’s new president. I was delighted to accept and take up the role at such an exciting time for parish and town councils, as they gain increasing influence in shaping the thousands of local communities they represent and champion.

"NALC is a well-respected organisation with a strong and influential voice, and I'm keen to play my part in taking their work forward as champion of town and parish councils across the country.

"I'd like to pay tribute to Lord Lytton who served NALC and the sector so well over the last decade and a half. He will I know continue to champion parish and town councils in the House of Lords."



cheque bookFinancial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to cover deposits of small local authorities

From 3rd July 2015 the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) will cover the deposits of small local authorities. The definition of small local authority being one that has an annual budget of less than €500,000 (currently £355,700 as it is based on the exchange rate on 3rd July each year). This will extend cover to over 8,000 parish and community councils.

The UK FSCS will cover the first £75,000 of eligible deposits, a reduction from the previous figure of £85,000. The previous limit will remain in force for individuals and small companies until 31st December 2015, but the new rate will apply immediately for councils.

The FSCS ensure that eligible bank depositors have access to their eligible deposits within fifteen business days of receipt of a request from the depositor which contains sufficient information to enable the FSCS to make a payment. The formal announcement of the change can be found on the Bank of England’s website.

NALC Financial briefing note F05-15 is in the Members Area of the OALC website



The Big Pathwatch launched by the Ramblers AssociationThe Big Path Watch

The Ramblers Association has launched a new programme aiming to record the condition of the network of paths across England and Wales with a view to improving maintenance.

The initiative is aimed at motivating communities to survey the rights of way network – footpaths, bridleways and byways and then to report their findings, both good and bad. The Ramblers Association has developed a purpose-built app that allows walkers to register the problems they encounter and pinpoint exactly where they have found them – and a webpage which serves the same function. Once the survey closes later in the year, the aim is to produce the first comprehensive nationwide analysis of the condition of paths.

The Ramblers want to work with councils to find cost-effective solutions to maintain our path network. The results of the Big Pathwatch will help it identify areas which are in good repair and find good practice. It will also help it find out which maintenance issues cause walkers the most difficulty, which should help councils prioritise reported problems. Additionally, the project should increase understanding of the impact of volunteer path maintenance teams. Ramblers’ volunteers already clear and maintain paths in nearly every highway authority across England and Wales and they are looking at how to build on this work where it is most needed.

The Ramblers is encouraging everyone to put on their walking boots, download the Big Pathwatch app – or grab a pen and paper – and help to inspect our rights of way! More information at


New changes for energy certificates

from NALC Direct Information Service C 1st for energy DEC

Starting on 9 July 2015, the Display Energy Certificates (DECs) will be required for all buildings over 250 square metres occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public. The threshold for requiring these certificates was 500 square metres.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said:

The purpose of this change is to further raise public awareness of energy use and to inform visitors to public buildings about the energy use of a building. DECs provide an energy rating of the building from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is the least efficient and are based on the actual amount of metered energy used by the building over the last 12 months.”

“Affected organisations must display a DEC in a prominent place clearly visible to the public and have in its possession or control a valid recommendation report.”

For more information see NALC Legal Topic Note 76 in the Members Area of our website and DCLG A guide to Display Energy Certificates and advisory reports for public buildings


Payroll Services – Douglas Tonkssigning a cheque

OALC has learnt from a parish council in Cherwell District that the company of Douglas Tonks is in the hands of the Official Receiver, Leeds, having been the subject of a winding up petition from HMRC in respect of NI and income tax dating back to 2012/13 amounting to around £46,000, and a subsequent winding up order effective 15 June 2015.

If this affects your council and you would like to speak to the Examiner at the Official Receiver's Office in Leeds which is handling the case, we are told he is Eric Yarwood on direct line0113 200 6026, .




c English HeritageEnglish Heritage split up c Historic England

Did you know that since April English Heritage has split into two organisations? The first organisation which retains the English Heritage name and logo, will look after the National Heritage Collection, consisting of more than 400 historic sites. Historic England, with a new and different logo, will cover planning, heritage designation, conservation while providing research, guidance and grants.

There are 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, Blenheim Palace was designated in 1987. Oxford Economics found heritage based tourism directly accounts for at least £5 billion of this countrys GDP and 134,000 jobs. Oxfordshire has a wealth of heritage based tourism, from the Oxford colleges through to literary and tv/film location attractions.

Plain English Guide to the Planning System

DCLG has issued a 20 page Plain English guide to the Planning System

It covers all the main basics:


Quality Parish Council Scheme is now Local Council Award Local Council Award logo

After prolonged consultation the new scheme was launched on 6th January 2015. The scheme has been designed to provide the tools and encouragement to help councils improve, as well as promoting and recognising those councils that are already well run and are examples of good practice.

Councils can apply for an award at one of three levels:

The scheme sets out the criteria required to attain each level of the award. It is hoped that councils will want to progress through the levels where resources allow. To achieve any level of award Councils must publish the required documents and information online and pass a resolution at full council confirming their availability.

For more information on the Local Award Scheme, the criteria and a step by step guide to the process for applying go to the NALC website

There are two fees; a registration fee paid to NALC, this is £50 irrespective of the size of the council or the level of award. And an accreditation fee which varies from £50 - £200 depending on the size of the council and the level of award.

The accreditation lasts for four years.



Chalgrove PC Allotments

Units of measurement – gardening allotments

OALC has received a letter from the British Weights and Measures Association. The letter states that a Mr David Johnson is emailing parish councils stating that they are “breaking the law” by using rods and poles to describe allotments. Apparently Mr Johnson starts his emails asking under the Freedom of Information Act for allotment prices, then switches context and uses the FoI deadlines to pursue a change to metric.

Mr Johnson does appear to be a prolific user of the What do they know? website


The British Weights and Measures Association, a group that campaigns for the retention of imperial measures points out that no UK legislation has been passed to prohibit the rod or pole or any other traditional unit in relation to allotments. Apparently the metric regulations to which Mr Johnson refers are the Units of Measurement Regulations 1994, aimed at the sellers of loose goods such as greengrocers. The renting of allotments does not fall into the category of loose goods. Allotments are let as plots, to which metric regulations do not apply.


The Bribery Act 2010 – impact on local councils, a reminderBribery

NALC have up dated their legal briefing L07-11 on the Bribery Act.

Bribery undermines democracy and the rule of law. Routine local council activities and decision making may expose councils to the risk of bribery offences being committed. Such risks could, for example, relate to entering into contracts for the supply of goods and services, commenting on planning applications, the purchase and disposal of land and premises, recruitment and employment practices.

Councils may be offered corporate hospitality/ gifts by those who want to supply goods and services to them. Bona fide hospitality to establish cordial relations or other business expenditure for activity intended to promote products and services is recognised as an established and important part of doing business. It is not the intention of the 2010 Act to criminalise such behaviour.

Hospitality and promotional or other similar business expenditure can, however, be employed as bribes. The greater the expenditure and the more lavish the hospitality provided, the greater the inference that it is intended to influence and to constitute bribery. This will depend on the nature of business and each council will need to form a view on what is acceptable corporate hospitality. The timing of any hospitality and its purpose will also need to be considered. Councils are encouraged to adopt a gifts and hospitality policy and to keep a register of gifts and hospitality received by staff and councillors. For many small councils the prospect of them receiving any hospitality is laughably remote, for larger councils there is greater potential for hospitality and hence a possible opportunity for bribery.

In England councillors may be subject to obligations under the Code of Conduct adopted by their council, which relate to transparency about the receipt of gifts or hospitality. For example, if a council has adopted NALC’s code of conduct for parish councils (please see NALC Briefing L09-12 – NALC template code of conduct for parish councils for more information) gifts or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 which a councillor has received by virtue of his or her office is an Appendix B interest which must be registered with the Monitoring Officer. Unless they have obtained a dispensation, councillors who have an Appendix B interest in a matter which is being considered at a meeting cannot vote on the matter at the meeting. They may only speak on the matter if members of the public are also allowed to speak at the meeting.




Revised Guidance: Naming and registering local council websites (

The Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service has launched revised guidance for the naming and registering of council websites aiming to make it simpler, clearer and faster for the user to understand conditions and to be able to apply for a domain.




Direct Information Service (DIS) NALC logo

Do you have trouble keeping up to date with all the news and views for town and parish councils?

DIS is a fortnightly news service from NALC which can provide you with a one stop shop for all the latest information which is relevant to our sector.

With a round up of government statements and publications, up to date legal information, ministerial statements, press releases and consultations from across the sector, along with regular events and vacancy listings, DIS is a great source of information.

Available in a hard copy, or delivered by e-mail (DIS Extra) up to five days earlier, and as a slightly enhanced version.

Reflecting the diversity of councils across the country, a typical issue will include a broad range of information on all potential aspects of a councils life including everything from reports on relevant employment tribunals to analysis of latest local government policy, and examples of case law.

All articles where relevant will have follow up points, including websites, postal addresses and telephone numbers to help you find out more detailed information.

DIS are now producing a funding bulletin as well with various sources of funding from Heritage Lottery Funding to Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Have a look at the Funding Bulletin here

Subscription to DIS

To subscribe to DIS complete the online subscription form. Member councils receive a substantially discounted subscription rate which is £115 for 26 issues for the printed version; £90 +VAT for DIS Extra - email version

Download a sample copy of DIS.


DCLG Allotment disposal guidance; safeguards and alternatives

This document is a guide to how disposal decisions will be handled by the decision makers involved. Information and advice is provided on the criteria used to assess whether local councils can be granted consent to dispose of land used for allotments. The guide’s main purpose is to help councils decide whether to apply for consent to dispose of allotment land and to provide clarity on how disposal applications will be assessed.

The guide is here


Organising a voluntary event: a 'Can do' guide from Cabinet Office Innocent Village fete

Cabinet Office have issued a guide, January 18th 2014, to help you to plan and run successful events with a minimum of red tape. The guide is in seven parts:

The guide can be read or downloaded from here



Parishes encouraged to make direct proposals to DCLG Under Sustainable Communities Act, 2007

The legal order allowing parishes to formally make direct proposals to the DCLG Secretary of State under the Second Round Invitation of the Sustainable Communities Act, 2007 – formally commenced on Monday 14, October, 2013.

NALC is promoting parish use of the Act in forthcoming issues of the E-Bulletin and DIS as the parish sector now collectively needs to focus on promoting appropriate parish proposals and indeed encouraging parishes to submit direct proposals to DCLG under the Act. All parishes in England need to have sight of the link on the NALC SCA web-page when and before making proposals under the Act.

A simple 4-step process has been formulated by NALC and is recommended to parishes to follow before formally submitting their proposals under the Act, to DCLG.  A submitting parish council should;

1)      Consult its community as to which ideas residents would like to have considered for a direct proposal;

2)      Then formally agree with its community (possibly in response to a local policy problem which can’t otherwise be resolved locally) the wording of a formal proposal;

3)      Then the council needs to formally resolve to pass the proposal and send it to DCLG at the Barrier Busting website.

4)      DCLG then responds saying either ‘yes’ the proposal is passed (in which case the council uses the Barrier Busting Tracker at the above link to track progress with implementing the proposal) or ‘no’.  If DCLG say ‘no’ the council can leave it at that and not re-submit a proposal, or can re-word a proposal and submit it to to ensure that the NALC SCA Board makes a decision as to whether to re-submit it (or not), to DCLG.  If the Board says ‘no’, it must give reasons to the council.  In most cases, though, the Board will probably re-submit a (possibly amended) proposal to DCLG on the council’s behalf and the same process outlined immediately above is followed.

Councils are strongly encouraged to start the process of submitting direct proposals to DCLG as soon as possible.




Working with your Council (WWYC) becomes Introduction to Local Council Administration (ILCA)

The introductory qualification Working with Your Council has been discontinued and is being replaced by the online Introduction to Local Council Administration. The new learning tool has five sections which can be studied in your own time. Each of the five modules contains activities, questions and explanations. You can gain a certificate and CPD pointILCAs on successful completion. The modules are:

To register and find more information go to the SLCC website The cost is £99 +VAT for SLCC members



Local Councils Explained 2013

Local Councils Explained

Local councils EXPLAINED is NALC’s book for local councils in England and Wales.

It has over 200 pages which clearly explain the role of parish, town and community councils, their councillors and officers and how they work. It offers comprehensive and practical guidance about the legal issues that local councils are exposed to.

NALC’s book will equip local councils with answers to frequently asked questions about all aspects of their work. There is commentary about:

  1. committee and staff structures
  2. publication schemes
  3. handling freedom of information requests
  4. data protection
  5. neighbourhood planning (England)
  6. the general power of competence(England)
  7. preparing for meetings and agenda preparation
  8. rules of debate at meetings
  9. how to chair meetings
  10. work after meetings
  11. preparation of minutes
  12. code of conduct
  13. political groupings
  14. publicity about the work of a council
  15. councillors’ interests and dispensation requests
  16. predetermination
  17. precept setting and council tax increases
  18. accounts, audit and financial management
  19. contract negotiation
  20. staff management
  21. parish and community meetings
  22. working with volunteers, businesses, charities and other local authorities
  23. dealing with the media
  24. handling complaints
  25. judicial review

Local councils EXPLAINED:

How to order:
Local councils EXPLAINED is priced at £49.99 +P&P for members & £59.99 +P&P for non-members.

The order form is available here.

Complete the form and send directly to NALC.



Vexatious request for information, new guidance from Information Commissioner

New guidance was issued by the Information Commissioner in May 2013. Under Section 14(1) Freedom of Information Act 2000, public authorities do not have to comply with vexatious requests. It is the request which is vexatious, not the individual making it!

In cases where the issue is not clear-cut, the key question to ask is whether the request is likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress.

Vexatious = “manifestly unjustified, inappropriate or improper use of a formal procedure”

See the complete guidance on the ICO website


The average age of a parish councillor is 60.2 years

How the Localism Act hands power to older generations.

An interesting report was published in September 2012 by the Intergenerational Foundation, an independent, non-party-political charity that exists to research fairness between the generations in order to protect the rights of younger and future generations in British policy-making.

Its findings were:

While some of the conclusions are debatable, it is correct there are very few town and parish councillors under the age of 30.

The report goes on to reveal that women remain significantly under-represented among town and parish councillors. Although females make up more than 50% of the population in England and Wales, 66% of parish councillors are male and 34% female.  67% of town councillors are male and 33% female. There are significant variations in gender representation between the regions. In the South-East of England the proportion of female councillors rises to almost two-fifths (39.7%).

The Local Government Chronicle (18.7.2013) magazine findings reinforce this, 23% of principal council chief executives were female, while only 12% of leaders were female although since the election in May the percentage has crept up to 13%.

How does your council measure up? What is the age and gender profile of your council?

Of course, it can be difficult to get willing volunteers to become councillors. However, next time your council has a vacancy think about the profile of your council, could it be more representative of the whole community?


The General Power of Competence - empowering councils to make a difference

The Power of General Competence was introduced in the Localism Act 2011 and came into effect in February 2012. The new power is radical in that it allows a council to act as an individual would. (See OALC briefing note in the members Area of this website under OALC briefings and presentations). Town and parish councils can only use the Power if they are eligible. Eligibility depends on satisfying three criteria:

The number of councils in Oxfordshire with the Power is limited; OALC are aware of Little Milton, Didcot, Bicester, Banbury and Minster Lovell Town and Parish Councils.

LGA had commissioned research into the Power and what is was being used for since 2012. The research identified a number of case studies and drew some conclusions on the constraints on the wider use of the GPC. Eric Pickles was very keen to encourage greater use of the Power stressing the possibilities for enterprising councils.


Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 - Village greens

village green

Under the Commons Act 2006, land can be registered as a town or village green if it can be shown to have been continuously used as of right for lawful sports or pastimes for at least 20 years by a signiciant number of inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

The frequent use of town or village green applications to prevent development has prompted the government to introduce three changes to the law through the Growth and Infrastructre Act 2013:

More information here on the DCLG website



Updated Guidance from DCLG on Code of Conduct and Register of Interests

The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued revised and updated guidance for councillors on the Code of Conduct. It is called Openness and transparency on personal interests, a guide for councillors. It supersedes that issued in August 2011.

There has been confusion and differing interpretations of the legislation particularly concerning whether a dispensation was required by councillors to consider the precept. This advice clearly states that a dispensation is not needed.

The revised guidance can be found here



Reminder about use of email by town and parish councils

NALC have issued a useful reminder about the use of emails; their advice is aimed primarily at clerks but does have relevance for councillors too. Clerks and councillors both need to consider what they retain on their computers. Increasing use of Freedom of Information requests means that any relevant emails will need to be produced within 20 days of the request.

Councils should ensure that the tone and language of internal and external email correspondence sent by their employees is always professional and courteous. Councils should consider emphasising the following points to employees sending work emails:



Fraud risks in parish and town councils - advice for councillors

Following a succesful training event on Finance we would like to draw your attention to a leaflet issued by NALC, SLCC and Audit Commission. It sets out a useful check list of Do's and Don't's on fraud, behavioural, financial and organisational indicators. Click here to see the leaflet.



Local Government Charity Toolkit

The Toolkit is a free online reference manual developed by the Charity Commission in liaison with the Local Government Association, the National Association for Voluntary & Community Action and the Commission for the Compact. It highlights key issues and is designed to help local authorities work with charities and to explain the legal and fiscal framework within which charities must operate. It is a useful guide for sub-committees and officers administering charitable assets in the council’s care and for councillors nominated to serve as charity trustees. It uses real case studies to do this and it highlights where things can go wrong and offers a range of tips on how to avoid the pitfalls. The Toolkit also provides information on the possible options for modernising, merging, or winding up charities and highlights the legal, financial and governance issues that arise from the relationship between local government and charities that can get in the way of an effective partnership.

Please see the following links to the Charity Commission website. They consist of a link to the Councillor’s Guide to a Council’s Role as Charity Trustee and a link to the Local Government Charity Toolkit:

Charity Commission Toolkit & Guidance for Local Authorities


Councillors Guide to a council's role as charity trust - PDF



Guidance on burials

The Ministry of Justice issued guidance for burial ground managers, custodians of war memorials, archaeologists and others directly connected to the upkeep and maintenance of cemeteries.

This guidance has been long awaited and will be of interest to local councils involved in cemetery management. It covers six themes: natural burial grounds – guidance for operators; guidance for burial ground managers; guidance for custodians of war memorials in England and Wales; managing the safety of burial ground memorials; memorial safety guidance: frequently asked questions; and a statement on burial law and archaeology. This guidance can be downloaded at

   War Memorials TrustWar Memorial Theft -  Prevention and solutions This helpsheet provides guidance on preventing theft from war memorials and what to do if theft has occurred. Theft commonly affects war memorials made from metals with a scrap value such as lead and bronze. It is important to take steps to assess and reduce the risks of theft before it is too late.


Making Local Food Work ProgrammePlunkett Foundation logo

The Plunkett Foundation is offering a support package to village shops to enhance their local food offering through the Making Local Food Work programme. They have a limited number of places on the scheme to help improve and stock more local food.

Making Local Food Work looks to stimulate the growth of local foods through community enterprise. To find out more about the Making Local Food Work programme please visit the website – .

The free local food support package provides:

If you think your village shop may be interested in joining the scheme please forward on this information, or ask your shop to contact us directly and we will happily talk through the project in more depth. If you would like to find out more about the scheme please call Nicole Hamilton on 01993 814 383.



New Community Shops Network

 An online support network for people involved in setting up and running community-owned village shops has been launched: The network, which already has 150 members, is intended to boost the number of rural communities that are taking over the management of local shops at risk of closure. The Plunkett Foundation, a membership organisation that offers funding and practical guidance on setting up community-owned or co-operative local services, set up the network.

Through its Village Core programme, the foundation provides grants of up to £20,000 – funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation – and loans of the same amount that the community takes out with lender Co-operative and Community Finance. The community then raises a contribution of the same amount, which provides a total package of around £60,000 that, according to the Plunkett Foundation, is the average start-up cost for a community-owned shop.

The new Community Shops Network - register online at


The Public Sector Mapping Agreement

The new Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) offers town, parish and community councils the opportunity to access a range of Ordnance Survey products. The PSMA will enable you to share that data between the public, private and voluntary sectors in your area. And local councils can register from now for a licence.

Geographical data can be used to underpin and therefore enable all town, parish and community councils to provide services, which not only meet local needs, improve quality of life and sustain community well being. They will have access to wider information and perspective which they need to make difficult choices about resource allocation, better data and intelligence at ward and neighbourhood level

From 1 April 2011 English Parish Councils and Welsh Community Councils are eligible to join the PSMA giving them access to a wide range of Ordnance Survey map data free at the point of use.

For further information, please visit our PSMA website

The Parish Councillor's Guide by Paul Clayden - £15.95

Book Cover

This ever-popular book, regarded as invaluable for all parish councillors and clerks, has been updated to a 20th edition to reflect the large amount of new legislation affecting parish and community councils.

Please click here for further information or to buy online.






For details of current consultations please visit our Consultations page.


Page last  updated: July 17, 2017