LCR MAGAZINE: AN EXPLOSION OF GRASSROOTS LOCAL DEMOCRACY

New parishes are coming! And boy are they, with the Cumbrian towns of Penrith and Whitehaven just in the last two weeks given the green light to have their own town councils from April next year.

As our most local level of democracy continues its revival – it’s the only growing part of local government and with dozens of communities currently campaigning for a new parish council – the new Autumn edition of LCR is something of a ‘Create a council’ special.

There’s plenty of other great stuff in it too, here are my top 10 reasons why you should have a read:

1. On the front cover is Angela Singhate, the first ever chairman of the new Queen’s Park Community Council in Westminster, who inside is in conversation with NALC’s Alan Jones about what drove the community to set up London’s first ever parish council.

2. So councillors are all 60 odd year-old, white retired men right? Wrong, as twenty one year-old James Butcher of Lancing Parish Council explains why he became a councillor and provides some tips on how to get more young people involved.

3. From conciliation to flexible working, there have been a number of changes to employment rules in recent months, as NALC solicitor Martin Fine explains in his article helping keep parish councils the right side of the law. And in another piece from NALC’s ‘legal eagle’s’, Meera Tharmarajah explains the law around giving and receiving grants.

4. ‘The best councils will have a clerk and councillors who work as a team to provide a service to the community’ – The Good Councillors Guide. SLCC chief Howard Midworth writes about how good local relationships need to be matched at national level.

5. In recent years the Cheshire Association of Local Councils has helped establish five new parish councils, including Crewe Town Council which came into being in 2013. Their article talks in more detail about how they are helping extend local democracy in the county, including the important role existing parishes can play.

6. NALC’s Kate Groves provides a round-up of the campaign to set up new parish councils, which has seen our iconic ‘heart’ prop hit the road and visit just a few areas where local people are campaigning for more people power.

7. Neil Berry from Locality and Stewkley Enterprise Agency’s David Lett provide an insight into delivering public services at the very local level, including busting some myths about economies of scale.

8. In addition to being the ‘minister for real ale’ courtesy of the community pubs part of his brief, local government minister Kris Hopkins MP is also responsible for local government finance, including the reform of the audit regime. In his article he explains what the Local Audit and Accountability Act means for town and parish councils.

9. The million dollar question in this edition’s Your Views is ‘should town and parish councils receive a share of business rates –but what did people say? And should that share come from the principal councils or national government take??

10. Not just famous for having comedian, writer and actor Griff Rhy Jones as their celebrity flag-waver-in-chief, Civic Voice are a small organisation punching its weight on behalf the civic pride movement and local civic societies. In Profile is chairman of Civic Voice Dr Freddie Gick, who reveals all about his love of buildings, grandfather clocks and public service, including the need for more parish councils.

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