All Change for Parish Councils…

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All Change for Parish Councils…

The next two years will see perhaps the biggest changes for parish and town councils since 1894. Glimpses of the fledgling Localism Bill, and lately the White Paper and Consultation on open Public services give fair warning of the greater responsibilities that are likely to fall on local councils.

Only time will tell how all the changes to legislation will affect local government in total but what is certain is that the landscape has changed permanently. County and District/Boroughs are shrinking and this means that local communities will have the opportunity to shape their own future, but will have to accept the responsibilities that come with it. Local councils will need to ‘capacity-build’ themselves through precept, through increased partnership working and increased utilization of external funding.

All local councils will need officers who are both qualified and motivated, and councillors who understand their role clearly, and lead their communities effectively. Where previously councillors felt ‘frustrated with their lack of powers’ the general power of competence will allow free and imaginative action.

Where previously councillors felt their council was ‘too small to do that’, they may now need to reassess that perception – effective partnership working and the ability to ‘group’ with other parish councils, together with the new legislation, will allow action only constrained by the will of residents, and the ability to build financial solutions.

In turn, principal authorities need to settle quickly after what for some is quite a brutal evolution from comprehensive service providers to lead enabling bodies. Localism, if it is to be ‘real’, cannot be selective or stop at the doors of the Civic Centre. Public assets are simply that, and need to be managed by the most local, most appropriate organization. But Localism must also be funded – you can only ask for more to be done with less money so many times. Interesting times!

Steven Lugg

Chief Executive

Hampshire Association of Local Councils

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Sunday, December 17, 2017