National News

Local News can be found here

Jackie Weaver is back!

NALC has released a new video starring viral sensation, Jackie Weaver, to help get more people involved in local (parish and town) councils.

#MakeAChange | The Unusual Suspects (ft. Jackie Weaver) - YouTube

The video, shot in rural Yorkshire, raises the importance of everyone having a stake in their community and getting involved in their local council. Local councils exist and flourish thanks to the commitments of over 100,000 councillors, clerks, and council staff. You might call them the usual suspects. But there is a problem. There are too many vacant seats. We need to reach out to the unusual suspects.

NALC is urging county associations and local councils to use and share the video as widely as possible to engage with communities across the country and reach pockets that have previously been undiscovered.

NALC's Make A Change campaign encourages people from all backgrounds and experiences to get involved with their local council and consider putting themselves forward for election to help make the council more representative of the community. 



Plunkett Foundation - Assets of Community Value database

Keep It in the Community (KIITC) is an online database of all community assets in England, such as pubs, shops and land, that have been nominated or registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

First set up by mySociety, Keep It in the Community is now hosted by the Plunkett Foundation – one of the organisations involved in its original conception. The information on KIITC is supplied by members of the public and checked by Plunkett against council records.

The top 3 types of asset registered on the Keep It in the Community register are:

  • Village halls
  • Green spaces
  • Pubs

Other types of asset include shops, cafes, post offices, sports clubs, allotments, religious buildings and libraries. There is data relating to 6,700 assets on Keep It in the Community register, of which 3,700 have an active ACV registration.

Elections May 2022?

The National Association of Local Councils' (NALC) Make A Change campaign encourages more people from all backgrounds and experiences who reflect their community to put themselves forward for election and for local (parish and town) councils to engage with as many residents from their community as possible. 


NALC has designed several resources to help promote becoming a councillor and the upcoming local council elections. We need your help to make local councils more representative! We've included a simple to use comms pack that includes an editable promotional poster and information flyer, press release, social media posts and visual assets. 


The #Make a Change election pack can be found here on the NALC website.

Star Councils Award 2022

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has opened nominations for the Star Council Awards 2022 as part of its work to recognise the achievements of the local (parish and town) council sector.

As the only awards in England recognising the contribution local councils make to their communities, the Star Council Awards are an opportunity for local councils, councillors, young councillors, clerks, and county associations to showcase how they are making a change in their communities.

The five award categories this year are:

  • Clerk of the Year
  • County Association Project of the Year
  • Young Councillor of the Year
  • Councillor of the Year
  • Council of the Year (public vote)

Cllr Keith Stevens, NALC chair, said: “Last year our sector showed brilliant ongoing commitment to its communities by stepping up to support them through the pandemic and this was recognised in a record number of nominations received. In 2022, I urge anyone who knows true community champions who have made a positive difference in the last year to put those people forward for an award because they deserve to be celebrated.”

The winners will be announced at an online ceremony later this year. Entrants have until 27 May 2022 to submit their entries.

Find out more about how to submit your nomination

2021-22 pay agreement

NALC were advised on 28th February 2022  by LGA colleagues that “Agreement has been reached on the pay award for local government services (‘Green Book’) employees, covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.   Unite has refused to have its details included in the circular as it will be staging targeted industrial action in [as yet, unnamed] local areas. This is regrettable but does not prevent a formal collective agreement being reached and implemented as the NJC Constitution requires a majority on each Side to be in favour, which UNISON and GMB both are.”


NALC will circulate the revised pay scales for our sector.  The overall increase generally is 1.75%, though the first pay point has been increased to reflect the new national living wage rate.

Sec 137 amount for financial year 2022-23

The appropriate sum for the purpose of section 137(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972 for parish and town councils in England for 2022-23 is £8.82.

This is the amount as a result from increasing the amount of £8.41 for 2021-2022 by the percentage increase in the retail index between September 2020 and September 2021, in accordance with Schedule 12B to the 1072 Act.

7th February 2022

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee

In 2022, the Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, seventy years of service, having acceded to the throne on 6th February 1952 when Her Majesty was 25 years old.

Throughout the year, Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family will travel around the country to undertake a variety of engagements to mark this historic occasion culminating with the focal point of the Platinum Jubilee Weekend in June 2022.

An extended bank holiday, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June, will provide an opportunity for communities and people throughout the United Kingdom to come together to celebrate the historic milestone. The four days of celebrations will include public events and community activities, as well as national moments of reflection on The Queen’s 70 years of service

The official emblem for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 is available, free of charge, for download from the website. It is available for use for all activities associated with the Platinum celebrations including community and national events, publications, retail and merchandising. A set of guidelines for use is also available on the website.

Platinum Jubilee website:



As part of the Jubilee celebration next year Beacons are being lit at 9.15pm on 2nd June 2022. The Lighting of the Beacons that night will be the first community event of the Jubilee Weekend of 2nd - 5th June next year.

The Guide to Taking Part in this event can be viewed and downloaded from -, and will continue to be updated on this site as more councils, communities, organisations and others agree to take part.


Funding for Jubilee events. Good news! Over £22 million of National Lottery funds are available to help communities celebrate the Jubilee.

More information is on the National Lottery website here Over £22million of National Lottery funds to help communities across the country celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee | The National Lottery Community Fund (

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, launched on 17th November the £3.5million Platinum Jubilee Fund, which will provide grants of up to £50,000 to 70 community projects across the UK, celebrating Her Majesty’s 70 years of public service.

In addition to The Platinum Jubilee Fund, grants of up to £10,000 from The National Lottery Awards For All programme will be available for community-led events throughout 2022.

The Platinum Jubilee weekend will also be celebrated with The Big Jubilee Lunch from 2-5 June 2022. Part of a 2-year programme of activities supported by £2.3million of National Lottery funding, this Jubilee-focused version of the annual Big Lunch event will bring thousands of communities together and help people celebrate the Jubilee while getting to know their neighbours.


Don’t forget a lasting legacy of the platinum jubilee could be trees planted to commemorate it via the Queens Green Canopy (QGC) The Woodland Trust is a partner of the QGC and their Free Trees for Schools and Communities Scheme is a great way to get involved with tree planting. Across 2021 and 2022 they have over three million saplings in tree packs, available on a first come first served basis. Information on how to apply for the free saplings is available through the Woodland Trust website.

You may also wish to mark the occasion with a commemorative plaque. The QGC is offering a physical, as well as a virtual commemorative plaque option, in keeping with an environmental initiative. Please visit our commemorative plaque page for more details.

The Trust for Oxfordshire Environment has produced a brilliant and comprehensive guide to Jubilee tree planting. It’s called The Rough Guide to the Queen’s Canopy in Oxfordshire, available here -

It covers:

  • Why plant trees?
  • How can trees be planted as part of the Canopy?
  • Trees – and how to get them
  • Tree suppliers and garden centres in Oxfordshire
  • Useful Oxfordshire websites
  • Appendix – Ten Steps to Success

NALC new publication on website accessibility

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has published a new guide on website accessibility and publishing guidelines.

The guide aims to help local (parish and town) councils ensure their websites meet the needs of all users — especially those with disabilities or impairments that use assistive technology.

The guide explains what website accessibility is, how it affects local councils, the requirements, and compliance. It details what a council must publish under the Transparency Code 2015, the costs of running a website, where to get help, what ongoing checks are needed, and discusses the future of website accessibility. The guide also contains a step-by-step guide and a range of resources.

The guide can also aid those who write and create content for websites and use it as guidance to give to their website designers who may not be aware that local government websites need to comply with the Transparency Code.

Cllr Sue Baxter, NALC chair, said: "One in five people in the UK has a form of long-term illness, impairment or disability. It is critical, NALC continue to produce resources that help England's 10,000 local councils ensure their websites are accessible to everyone in the communities they serve".

The guide was co-written by Aubergine, an award-winning website and design agency and web accessibility experts.

National Model Design Code

The National Model Design Code , published on 20th July by the government, sets out design parameters to help local authorities and communities decide what good quality design looks like in their area.

The National Model Design Code forms part of the government’s planning practice guidance and expands on the ten characteristics of good design set out in the National design guide, which reflects the government’s priorities and provides a common overarching framework for design.

NALC Climate Change case studies July 2021


The Climate Change case studies publication is for local councils and county associations to use as an example of work that can be carried out in their communities. These are all examples of best practise and demonstrate actions to tackle climate change locally.

The publication is divided into various topics; biodiversity, carbon off-setting and reduction, climate change forums, community projects, designing greener housing, electric charging points, energy and heating, environmental improvement, flood assistance, green travel, plastic reduction and trees and tree management. It is designed to incorporate all areas of climate change.

Read the Climate change case studies publication here on the NALC website 

RHA Parish Councillor's guide to Affordable Housing

English Rural has launched their new guide (PARISH COUNCILLORS’ GUIDE TO RURAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING) aimed at local (parish and town) councillors on affordable rural housing.

Rural communities can only thrive if good quality affordable homes are available to those who live and work in rural areas. Yet, in many rural communities, affordable housing is lacking, or in some cases, absent. This is not a new problem, but one that has grown worse. Across the country, local councils have supported and been a critical partner in delivering small scale affordable rural housing developments. These have provided high-quality homes that are affordable to run.

The guide is an interactive document packed with information, case studies and short videos. Additionally, it takes you through the different options available, the stages in the development process, who the key players are, and insights on the technical matters that help make decisions. The guide will help you deliver new homes that you can be proud of, and  help your community thrive.

English Rural is a specialist provider of community-led, affordable rural homes established in 1991. They are one of the leading national advocates on affordable rural housing issues.

Read the PARISH COUNCILLORS’ GUIDE TO RURAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING here parish-councillors-guide-to-rural-affordable-housing.pdf (

Civility and Respect Project - NALC/SLCC joint statement

The Civility and Respect Project Working Group agreed at its latest meeting on 28 June 2021 a joint statement committing to promote civility and respect in public life. The statement, which summarises the core aims and values for securing permanent change in the local (parish and town) council sector, reads:

“Civility and respect should be at the heart of public life and good governance is fundamental to ensuring an effective and well-functioning democracy at all levels.

The intimidation, abuse, bullying and harassment of councillors, professional officers and staff, in person or online, is totally unacceptable; whether that is by councillors, professional officers, staff or members of the public.

This can prevent councils from functioning effectively, councillors from representing local people, discourage people from getting involved including standing for election, and undermine public confidence and trust in local democracy.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), county associations and One Voice Wales (OVW), as the membership organisations representing the first tier of local government in England and Wales, and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) as the professional body for clerks, are committed to working together to promote civility and respect in public life, good governance, positive debate and supporting the well-being of councillors, professional officers and staff.

To that end the group will be working to deliver tangible resources, actions and interventions in four main areas: providing councils with the tools to support good governance; lobbying to strengthen the standards regime and encourage more people to get involved; training; and processes to intervene to provide support to struggling councils.”


The meeting of the working group also finalised plans for the appointment of a fixed-term project officer, funded by NALC and SLCC, to drive forward the projects’ key priorities and tangible objectives. Other issues covered at the meeting, which was held online, included a local resolution protocol, links to the Improvement and Development Board (IDB) and lobbying.

Petition to enable councillors to be disqualified for poor conduct

You might be interested in this petition on the govenment petitions website - 

Legislate to enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for poor conduct

The Government should amend legislation to enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for breaching relevant Codes of Conduct. Some Councillors behave unacceptably, yet currently sanctions do not enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for breaches of a Code of Conduct. 

First Defra Rural Proofing Report March 2021 - room for improvement

The Rural Services Network on their website have published the comments of the Rural Coalition on the governments (Defra)  Rural Proofing Report for 2020, published in March 2021.

The members of the Rural Coalition are: Action with Communities in Rural England, CPRE – The Countryside Charity, Country Land and Business Association, The Arthur Rank Centre, National Association of Local Councils, National Centre for Rural Health and Care, National Farmers Union, National Housing Federation, Plunkett Foundation, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Town Planning Institute, Rural Services Network, Town and Country Planning Association.

The context for Defra’s report is a commitment made by the Government in July 2019 in its response to a report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy. In that response the Government rejected a key Select Committee recommendation, that it should develop a Rural Strategy. Instead, it said that “over the coming months, the government will expand on its strategic vision [for rural areas]”. It also reaffirmed its “clear commitment that all policies be ‘rural proofed’” and stated that “Defra will therefore publish each year an evidence-based report on rural proofing”. No expanded strategic vision for rural areas has yet been published.

The Coalition’s comments are quite damning although they suggest the report could represent a starting point. They suggest that In future years, they would expect to see the reports:

  • Relating more obviously to rural proofing that has happened during the reporting year;
  • Offering a more transparent picture of rural proofing, how it has been applied and its outcomes; and
  • Providing more tangible evidence of rural proofing across all departments.

Latest guidance on flying the flag

Letter to council leaders and chief executives regarding guidance on the flying of the Union Flag

On 26 March, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, wrote to all council leaders and chief executives in England about updated guidance on the flying of the Union Flag.

The updated guidance emphasises UK Government buildings should fly the Union Flag every day where they have one flagpole present, except on certain occasions where other flags may wish to be flown.

In the letter, the Secretary of State says that, while the guidance is aimed at UK Government buildings, he is also encouraging all councils in England to fly the Union Flag more frequently on their principal buildings, where such flagpoles would otherwise fly no flag, or alongside local and civic pride flags.




NALC The Good Councillor's guide to cyber security

NALC published The Good Councillor's guide to cyber security in partnership with Microshade VSM.

The guide aims to help local (parish and town) councils understand the importance of cyber security better and provide practical advice on minimising risks to the council. The guide features information on understanding the most common threats such as phishing, viruses, loss of data and how some simple steps can help protect the council's data and equipment.

The guide pays particular attention to smaller councils, which may have just one device that holds all current and historical information on the council's activities. If that device is lost or broken, a few simple, pre-emptive steps to minimise risks and back up data could transform a crisis into a manageable situation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an unprecedented transformation of local councils as they have moved to remote meetings and home working. These changes have allowed local councils to continue supporting communities through these challenging times. However, with these benefits, there are many challenges. One of these is cyber security, and the local council sector must understand it to safeguard the council's good work for its communities.

You don't need to be a technical expert to safeguard your council. With this guide, along with a small investment of time and resource, your council can reduce these risks.

The guide is in the Member’s Area of the OALC website.

The Good Councillor's Guide to Community Business December 2020

NALC and the Plunkett Foundation have launched The Good Councillor's Guide to Community Business to promote the opportunities that community businesses can create locally.

You can find a copy to download in the members area of the OALC website under NALC briefings

The Plunkett Foundation (based in Woodstock) wrote the guide in partnership with Power to Change (the independent trust that supports community businesses in England).

The guide is a comprehensive resource that will enable local councils to understand better how a community business could enhance their parish or town in a post-Covid society.

Community businesses are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community. They come in many forms, including shops, pubs, woodlands and anything which lends itself to community ownership.

In addition to developing and safeguarding valuable assets and services, community businesses address a range of issues including isolation, loneliness, wellbeing, work and training. As well as bringing people together and attracting people to a local area, for every £1 spent in a business, a further 56 pence is spent locally as the money dissipates.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of local services has never been more apparent. However, the reality is that an increasing number of services are at risk of closure due to market forces, lack of funding, or due to the effects of the pandemic. This means that many residents, many of whom are dependent or vulnerable, are losing access to essential amenities. In these areas where there is a concern of services being lost, the community business approach is often a viable and sustainable solution.

This guide intends to provide the practical "how-to" knowledge behind a community business and inspire a new generation of businesses to open. Also, there is support available from Plunkett Foundation, Power to Change and the National Association of Local Councils to ensure that councillors can access further expertise and resource to realise the ambition of setting up a community business in their area.

Chris Cowcher, Head of Community Business at Plunkett, said: "We are delighted to be supporting this project because local councils have the power to encourage, facilitate and support more community businesses to open. The guide launched in a year when community businesses have stepped up more than ever to serve their residents across the UK in the most challenging of times. These enterprising businesses, time and again show themselves to be inspirational and inclusive operations, and it is exciting to think that this guide will lead to even more setting up.It is often vital that local councils are engaged, contribute to and collaborate with community business projects and through working with NALC and Power to Change we hope that we can create an environment where these businesses can flourish."

NALC Chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, said: "I'm delighted for the launch of The Good Councillor's guide to community business. Local councils play a significant role as service deliverers for their communities, through supporting local economy and business. It is encouraging that the sector already engages with community businesses and hope this latest publication will empower councillors with information to support community businesses and extend their take-up across the country".

Ailbhe McNabola, at Power to Change said: In 2020, community businesses have really come into their own. They have demonstrated just how agile and adaptable they can be, stepping up during the pandemic to provide vital support and services for the most vulnerable in their communities. Every town or village should have at least one community business. Run by local people for the benefit of local people, they have resilience hardwired into their business model; and with 56p of every pound spent by a community business staying in the local economy, it makes financial sense too.”

For more information on the guide and the support available through Plunkett to help local councils support the opening of more community businesses visit:

New Rural Economy Toolkit to support “missed opportunity” around rural relevance to UK productiv

09 Nov 2020

 The Institute of Economic Development (IED) and the Rural Services Network (RSN) have devised a new practitioner-focused toolkit which is intended as a guide for “anyone seeking to raise rural relevance in the economic agenda”.

 The Rural Economy Toolkit,  launched on 12th November 2020, is designed to ensure that rural areas are better recognised in economic strategies and to enable the identification of new opportunities to drive forward rural initiatives.

The IED and RSN collectively believe that rural economies present great opportunities for the UK and have been somewhat overlooked in recent economic policy, including in the development of the UK Industrial Strategy (and subsequent local versions) and the Government’s Plan for Jobs. A recent report from the RSN states that predominantly rural areas in England contributed £260 billion of Gross Value Added to the national economy during 2018, which accounts for almost a 16% share of England’s economic output. That rural share has reduced somewhat over time, from 16.4% in 2010 to 15.9% in 2018, as London has expanded further its share of the country’s activity.

Acknowledging that “the situation needs to be addressed”, with the UK required to better utilise its overall resource base, its existing built assets and infrastructure and the whole of its population through more even distribution of productive effort. The Rural Economy Toolkit:

  • Uncovers the issues that are preventing rural economies from gaining full recognition.
  • Reviews some of the policy drivers that are affecting rural economies.
  • Outlines some of the ‘mega trends’ which will create change in rural economies but links these to opportunities.
  • Provides a number of case studies of different rural economy initiatives as well as some examples of successful rural businesses.
  • Identifies the steps that can be taken to ensure that rural economies remain in the economic narrative.
  • Summarises the key measures that rural economies can address to answer “what looks good”.

IED Chair Bev Hurley and RSN CEO Graham Biggs said: “Current economic strategies in the UK tend towards an urban narrative with the important rural agenda overlooked – despite the importance of resources, activities and people in these areas to the future economic strength of the country.

Many drivers of change in the economy have an important rural dimension and create economic opportunities. The most important drivers in this report are identified as low carbon, digitisation, ageing and wealth creation. There are many examples of best practice, where rethinking a rural approach led to economic gains ignored by mainstream strategy. This toolkit approach encourages lateral thinking not standardisation. There is no such thing as ‘rural businesses’ – any business can thrive in a rural setting.

 The Rural Economy Toolkit (which can be downloaded here -  sets out how rural areas can define themselves; find and present the relevant data; use comparators and time series data to identify strengths and weaknesses and then combine this with lived experience to seize the initiative in strategy.”

There are case studies and a handy ‘top tips’ guide on the things that should be considered to deliver a successful economic strategy.

Governance and Accountability for Smaller Authorities or The Practitioners Guide

The Practitioners’ Guide is issued by the Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance (JPAG) to support the preparation by smaller authorities in England of statutory annual accounting and governance statements found in the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR).

The Guide is reviewed and published every year at the beginning of the financial year. The latest edition is in the Members Area of our website

Probity in Planning - LGA and PAS

Probity in planning is about ensuring that decisions on plan making and planning applications are undertaken, on behalf of communities, in a fair, impartial and transparent way.

This 2019 guidance is an update to the 2013 version of the Local Government Association’s Probity in Planning. It clarifies how councillors can get involved in planning discussions on plan making and on applications, on behalf of their communities in a fair, impartial and transparent way. This guide has been written for officers and councillors involved in making planning decisions in their local authority and does not constitute legal advice. It is aimed at principal authority councillors but nevertheless has a lot of sound advice in it.

It covers:

  • The planning system and the role of decision makers
  • Councillor and officer conduct
  • Registration and disclosure of interests
  • Predisposition, predetermination, or bias
  • Development proposals
  • Lobbying of and by councillors
  • Discussions before a decision is taken
  • Officer reports to committee
  • Public speaking at planning committees
  • Decisions which differ from a recommendation
  • Committee site visits
  • Reviewing past planning decisions and the outcomes
  • Complaints and record keeping

LGA - Reaching out - Guide to helping councils tackle loneliness

Loneliness can often be associated with older people who live on their own, but it is not just about social isolation or older people; LGA recognise that being lonely can have an impact irrespective of age and circumstance. Frequent loneliness can also ramp up pressure on public services, increase referrals to adult social care and trigger multiple attendances at GP surgeries – the significance of this being likened to issues such as obesity and smoking.

This ‘Reaching out’ guide is an important starting point and a practical resource in supporting principal and local councils to tackle loneliness. In preparing this guide, LGA has explored how best practice can be shared to support commissioners, service providers, councillors and leaders across the tiers, as well as those people affected by loneliness. This guide outlines the current loneliness policy context, uses a range of case studies to demonstrate effective local delivery models working in practice, and provides useful checklists and top tips on how to measure and evaluate outputs.

In our February 2019 edition of the Update we raised the idea of the Friendly or Chatty bench as a simple starting point.

The Reaching out  guide has action planning checklists around four themes:

  • making connections – finding ways to reach and understand the needs of those experiencing loneliness
  • making a difference – providing services that directly improve the number and quality of relationships that people have
  • linking up – providing support such as transport and technology to help sustain connections
  • the right environment – creating the right structures and conditions locally to support those affected by, or at risk of, loneliness.

The guide can be found at this link here

20 actions town and parish councils can take on the climate emergency

This guide complements Friends of the Earth’s template Local Climate Action Plan1 .
The guide identifies actions that parish and town councils can take on climate
change and nature. Its purpose is to support those of the 10,000 local councils across
England and 750 community councils in Wales who want to “do their bit” in addressing
the climate and nature emergency.

The actions are grouped under three headings:

1. Be a force for good
2. Demonstrate leadership through your own practical actions
3. Use your powers wisely

ICO advice for parish councils

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published more advice for parish and town councils, in response to prolonged pressure from NALC for continued sector-specific guidance.

The ICO’s senior policy officer, Stacey Egerton, has blogged about three top issues for town and parish councils and their new bite-sized resources to reflect these issues - a fact sheet on the use of personal devices, data audit and retention resource pack, and six steps to data sharing in local councils. Also pleasing is Stacey’s recognition of growing confidence among councils and evidence of good practice, but she also highlights there is still more to do. NALC is meeting with the ICO over the next few weeks and will be discussing this latest guidance and further support to help councils with data protection.

Parish Councillors’ Guide to Rural Affordable Housing - June 2021

English Rural has launched their new guide (Parish Councillors’ Guide to Rural Affordable Housing) aimed at parish and town councillors on affordable rural housing.

Rural communities can only thrive if good quality affordable homes are available to those who live and work in rural areas. Yet, in many rural communities, affordable housing is lacking, or in some cases, absent. This is not a new problem, but one that has grown worse. Across the country, local councils have supported and been a critical partner in delivering small scale affordable rural housing developments. These have provided high-quality homes that are affordable to run.

The guide is an interactive document packed with information, case studies and short videos. Additionally, it takes you through the different options available, the stages in the development process, who the key players are, and insights on the technical matters that help make decisions. The guide will help you deliver new homes that you can be proud of, and your community thrive.

English Rural is a specialist provider of community-led, affordable rural homes established in 1991. They are one of the leading national advocates on affordable rural housing issues.

Updated NALC Model Financial Regulations July 2019 and guidance

The NALC Model Financial Regulations have been updated. The previous version was issued in January 2016, these are replaced by the July 2019 version which is now available in the Members Area of our website together with guidance on their use.  NALC recommends you read the guidance before and during adaptation of the Regulations to the particular circumstances of your council.

 Please ensure you review and revise your Financial Regulations on a regular basis and ensure they are up to date and fit for purpose.

The Village Survival Guide - The Princes Countryside Trust

In 2018, over 500 community led projects were recommended to The Prince's Countryside Fund as a result of our Recharging Rural research.

That's why the Trust has decided to publish The Village Survival Guide. Based on the lived experience of rural residents from all across the UK, this book will help communities to tackle a multitude of issues and make sure that their community will thrive in the future.

Featuring advice from experts, as well as the stories of those who've made a real difference in their rural community, The Village Survival Guide will help you get your community up and running.

More information here

NALC Points of Light - examples of interesting work by councils

Points of Light is a collection of case studies highlighting the work that parish and town councils are undertaking to support their communities. The 2019 edition contains 150 case studies, which includes; summaries, electorate, precept and expenditure, the examples cover:

Art, culture and heritage 
Canals and rivers 
Community awards 
Community events 
Community safety 
Community transport 
Community venues 
Economic development 
Environmental improvement 
Flood assistance 
Grants and funding 
Health and wellbeing 
Housing and planning 
Parks and open spaces 
Partnership working 
Street furniture 
Winter readiness 
Young people and youth services

Climate emergency – what can parish councils do?

There appears to be gathering momentum behind calls for a Climate Emergency to be declared. On 1st May 2019 MP’s approved in Parliament a motion to declare a Climate Emergency, the proposal demonstrates the will of the Commons but doesn’t compel the government to act.

In November 2018, Oxfordshire County Council at its meeting agreed to:

  • Join Councils, such as Bristol City Council, in declaring a Climate Emergency
  • Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make local action on climate change easier
  • request Scrutiny to urgently review and make recommendations on revisions to the Council’s 2017-2022 Carbon Management Plan
  • Continue to work with partners across the city and region to deliver widespread carbon reductions

The wording of the agreement to sign up to or declare a Climate Emergency varies but revolves around reducing carbon emissions to zero by a set date (2030/2050). More information is available on the website of the group behind Climate Emergency, their website maps councils that have made the declaration.

Obviously, a council making the Declaration is one thing but being able to deliver on a set of measurable criteria is another matter. Frome Town Council have detailed what they intend to do in a report to their council here

A number of councils have raised this with us, asking if they able to make the declaration (yes) and what could it actually mean for them.

One of the main aims of the Climate Emergency declaration is zero carbon emissions by a set date 2050, although how this is measured for a small parish isn’t clear. The powers of a parish council to affect carbon emissions are limited. A lot is based around education and encouragement of other relevant groups, organisations and bodies. A council could look at changing its energy supplier to a renewable energy based one; investigate solar panels on the village hall etc. The council can obviously only do what is within its powers, but a statement of intent might be a starting point. A Working Party might be a way forward, tasked with identifying possible projects, methods of working towards measurable carbon  targets and other smaller associated quick environmental wins such as recycling, no plastics, more green activities, encouragement of walking rather than car use etc.

Setting up a community run post office

Just under 200 community-run shops and pubs also provide post office services, often in rural areas where people can face significant barriers to accessing essential services.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau research last year into community-run post offices showed the significant benefits they deliver to local communities. However, setting one up can be difficult.

Since then Citizen’s Advice Bureau have worked with the Plunkett Foundation and Post Office Limited to produce this guide [ 280 kb] to make it easier for community-run enterprises to apply to run a post office.  

Further advice and support for community-run groups and businesses can be accessed through the Plunkett Foundation here.

Councillors don't have to pay ICO fees from 1st April 2019

The Data Protection (Charges and Information) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force on 1st April 2019 and exempt parish councillors from payment of the data protection fee to the Information Commissioner's Office.


More information here on the ICO website

Get your parish council to sign the Tree Charter

On 6th November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the influential 1217 Charter of the Forest, the Woodland Trust launched the Charter for Trees, Woods and People. They believe the people of the UK have a right to the benefits brought by trees and woods. The Charter will recognise, celebrate and protect this right. 

There are 10 principles associated with the Charter:

  • Plant for the Future
  • Sustain landscapes rich in wildlife
  • Celebrate the power of trees to inspire
  • Protect irreplaceable trees and woods
  • Plan greener local landscapes
  • Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the help of trees
  • Make trees accessible to all
  • Combat the threats to our habitats
  • Strengthen our landscapes with trees
  • Grow forests of opportunity and innovation

The Woodland Trust would like parish councils to sign the Charter and show their commitment to these principles.


More information here on the Woodland Trust website


NALC GDPR Toolkit (revised) August 2018

The original GDPR toolkit was sent to all member councils on 26th February 2018. It has now been revised to to reflect changes since then concerning:

  • town and parish councils no longer required to have a Data protection Officer
  • the need to register with the ICO

the revised edition is in the Members Area of this website.


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, it seeks to be more influential by joining in common cause. The key principles, policies and actions which the Coalition urges the Government to apply to rural communities are


  • Brexit discussions must recognise ‘rural’ is more than agriculture and the natural environment.
  • All Brexit negotiations and post-Brexit policies must be rural proofed.
  • Policies and funding must deliver a fair deal for rural communities.
  • Decision-making, funding and delivery must be devolved and involve rural communities.

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

  • A meaningful increase in the delivery of affordable housing in villages and small towns.
  • Proper recognition of rural service delivery challenges and services designed to meet rural needs.
  • Long-term support for social action, to help communities become more resilient.
  • Business support and infrastructure which reaches rural areas, so the rural economy can grow and create quality jobs.

The Rural Coalition has produced Good Practice Case Studies which illustrate work done in rural communities to deliver on the four priorities; read more here

The Good Councillors Guide to Neighbourhood Planning

National Association of Local Councils (NALC) in association with Locality published in 2017 The good councillor's guide to neighbourhood planning.

The guide is aimed at local councillors who are interested in finding out more about their role in relation to neighbourhood planning or perhaps belong to a council who are embarking on producing a neighbourhood plan for their area.

Neighbourhood planning was introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Communities can shape development in their areas through the production of neighbourhood development plans and other initiatives detailed in this guide.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “Given these rights have a huge bearing on how a council engages with its community to undertake the process it is vital that local councillors understand the key principles of neighbourhood planning in order to support their communities appropriately.

“For these reasons Locality and NALC have worked together to produce this guide in order local councillors are equipped with the basic information to get them started. However it does not stop here and there will be a need for councillors to find out more as the process unfolds.”

Local councils can access print copies of the The Good Councillor's guide to neighbourhood planning by contacting their local county association

The guide is available to download from our Members Area.

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 two meetings which have similar names.

To summarise:.

  • The Annual Parish Council Meeting must by law be held in May. This is a statutory requirement.
  • The first business of the Annual Parish Council Meeting must be the election of the Chairman. This is a statutory requirement. If no Chairman can be elected the meeting cannot continue beyond this agenda item.
  • There is no statutory requirement for a Councillor to be present at the Annual Parish Council Meeting in order to be elected as Chairman.
  • The Clerk should not be in the chair during the election of Chairman, this is a common misunderstanding. A Clerk can never take the chair of a council meeting.
  • The current Chairman must by law use their casting vote in the case of a tie in the election of Chairman (see NALC Legal Topic Note 2 for full details).
  • The newly elected Chairman must sign a declaration of acceptance of office form before taking the Chair, which they should do immediately following their election.
  • There is no statutory process or requirement for nominations, etc. Your council's Standing Orders may provide for this, but if they do not then any councillor can stand for election as Chairman at the Annual Parish Council Meeting without notice or nomination by another.
  • The Annual Parish Meeting is not a Council meeting, but rather is a meeting of local government electors registered for the area for which it is held. It must be held between 1st March and 1st June. It is entirely separate from the Annual Parish Council Meeting, though is sometimes held on the same evening.
  • The minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting must be approved at the next Parish Council Meeting, and must not be held over until the following year's Annual Parish Council Meeting.

The Good Councillors Guide

The Good Councillors Guide is available. It can be downloaded for free from the Members Area of the NALC website (the username and password are in the Members Area of our website) or printed copies are available from OALC - £4 per copy + £1.20 p&p per copy

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

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.

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 buildings. 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 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, this guide aims to help officers and members better understand how CAT can help support your council's priorities.

Planning Aid

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



Being a good employer 2016

All town and parish councils are employers, the clerk may be the only employee.

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 is available to download free from the Members Area of our website or as a printed booklet from OALC cost £4 per copy + £1.20 p&p

Resources to make things happen and improve your community

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

Neighbourhood Plan support from Locality

Welcome to Locality Neighbourhood Planning Support, where you’ll find everything you need to know about how to develop a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order and what support is available to you.

It is available on Locaility's website here - 

Financial 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

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:

  • the purpose of the planning system
  • key decision takers:  councillors, officers, Secretary of State, Planning Inspectorate
  • National Planning Policy
  • Nationally significant infrastructure projects
  • Strategic planning, duty to cooperate
  • Local Plans (flow diagram)
  • Neighbourhood planning (flow diagram)
  • Contributions and community benefits
  • Permitted development rights
  • Obtaining planning development (flow diagram)
  • Planning enforcement
  • Planning appeals

Local Council Award Scheme

The Local Council Award Scheme is designed to provide the tools and encouragement to help parish and town 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 Foundation Award demonstrates that a council meets the minimum requirements for acting lawfully and according to standard practice.
  • The Quality Award demonstrates that a council achieves good practice in governance, community engagement and council improvement.
  • The Quality Gold Award demonstrates that a council is at the forefront of best practice and achieves excellence in governance, community leadership and council development.

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.

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

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.

Introduction to Local Council Administration (ILCA)

The online Introduction to Local Council Administration (ILCA) is the level 2 sector specific qualification. The 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 points on successful completion. The modules are:

  • Core roles
  • Law and procedures
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Community

To register and find more information go to the SLCC website The cost is £120 +VAT for SLCC members.

Local Councils Explained 2013 SOLD OUT

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:

  • is easy to understand
  • uses examples, tables and diagrams
  • contains up-to-date statutory references
  • is competitively priced at £49.99 only for NALC members (15% discount) and
  • includes updated model standing orders (an electronic version of which is free to NALC members.

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 requests for information, guidance from Information Commissioner

Guidance was issued by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) 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 General Power of Competence - empowering councils to make a difference

The General Power of Competence was introduced in the Localism Act 2011 and came into effect in February 2012. The 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 satisfy the eligibility criteria which are:

  • two thirds of councillors have stood for election (they may have stood unopposed)
  • the clerk is qualified - Cilca or higher recognised qualifications
  • the council resolves to grant itself the Power.

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

The Local Government Association published research in 2013 on the use that GPC had been put to. It is available here

Guidance from DCLG on Code of Conduct and Register of Interests

The Department for Communities and Local Government (now MHCLG) issued revised and updated guidance in September 2013  for councillors on the Code of Conduct. It is called Openness and transparency on personal interests, a guide for councillors. It supersedes the guidance 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

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


Plunkett Foundation - Community Shops Network

The Plunkett Foundation offer assistance to people involved in setting up and running community-owned village shops. 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 Community Shops Network - register online at

The Public Sector Mapping Agreement

The 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 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

English parish councils have been eligible to join the PSMA since April 2011 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

This ever-popular book, regarded as invaluable for all parish councillors and clerks, was updated in 2009 (20th edition) to reflect the large amount of new legislation affecting parish and community councils.