Proposed Code of Conduct
High standards of conduct and behaviour
are of huge importance to the local (parish and town) council sector as
they are needed to protect the integrity of decision making, maintain
public confidence, and safeguard local democracy.
NALC therefore strongly encourages local councils and county associations of local councils to consider the proposed new model member code of conduct and respond to the LGA consultation before the deadline of 17 August 2020.
We all know the impact that poor behaviour, bullying and harassment can have on individuals and on local councils as organisations,
so it is vital we continue to work as a sector to improve standards and
push for further reform, at both local and national level.
while NALC will be responding to the consultation and engaging further
with the LGA, we are also calling for further action by the Government to introduce a new power for local authorities to suspend councillors
for a period of up to six months, and for the Committee on Standards in
Public Life to review progress on the implementation of the reports wider recommendations.
Latest Grimsey review seeks local councils input
The former retailer, Bill Grimsey, is seeking input from local (parish and town) councils to his rapid review on the impact of Covid-19 on high streets and town centres.
The clarion call to repurpose these places as Community Hubs was at the heart of the Grimsey Reviews conducted in 2013 and 2018.
His latest piece of work is expected to examine the necessary steps needed for high streets and town centres to recover and remain relevant in a changing environment.
The review team would like councils to have a strong voice in this paper, and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has urged the review to include the role of local councils in supporting their high streets and town centres.
As a result, the review team would like to hear from local councils on:
- their plans, ideas and successes, including examples of what was working prior to the onset of the pandemic and initiatives that have been taken since that could be sustained;
- critical issues you are facing with respect to your high streets and town centres post lockdown;
- issues around funding are especially pertinent as this paper will be widely publicised and presented to the government.
Please send your contribution to email@example.com by 5 June 2020.
NALC - Open Letter to Councillors
Building back communities
The latest newsletter (issued 21 May) is available on the Newsletters' Page within the Members Section. Contains important information for councils to read.
REVISED PRACTITIONER'S GUIDE AND AGAR FLOWCHARTS
The 2020 Practitioner's Guide and useful AGAR flowcharts and step by step guides can be found in the Members section, under Model Documents.
USEFUL HELP FROM PARISH ON-LINE
Click here for more info.
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH HOW THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY IS IMPACTING ON OUR SECTOR AT www.nalc.gov.uk
The Government will extend the audit period for lasy year's audit. Summary info here
NALC legal advice on holding meetings remotely
NALC's Legal Team has issued advice on how councils can hold meetings without the council physically gathering.
LEGISLATIVE CHANGES FOR COUNCILS DURING THE EMERGENCY - posted 3 April 2020
The Statutory Instrument which will bring in the temporary governance arrangements has been published by Government. NALC Legal is preparing guidance which will be issued next week.
Furloughing and the Job Retention Scheme
ERNLLCA has produced a briefing paper for member councils on this topic. It can be found on the Advisory Notes page within the Members section of the website.
All councils should have received this letter from PKF Liitlejohn. If not, please contact them asap.
BHIB Councils Insurance BHIB Councils Insurance has developed cybersecurity tips to help keep local councils and their staff to stay secure and keep online data safe. As well as advice on expectations of local councils regarding playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment. Coronavirus case studies Our Coronavirus case studies publication highlighting examples of how local councils are supporting their communities has been updated and now includes around 150 case studies. Legal briefing NALC has published a legal briefing, which gives guidance on the implications for local councils of the Local Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. This includes commentary on the prohibition on holding elections to fill casual vacancies until 6 May 2021. Virtual meeting demonstration Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils has created a video to demonstrate what a virtual meeting of (the fictional) Great Pipping Parish Council would look like in Zoom. It is a training video designed to show how a chairman would deal with councillors joining by computer and phone, declarations of interest, public participation and confidential items where members of the public and press are excluded. Zoom If you do choose to use Zoom, there is a range of free information and training to help people use the platform which is definitely worth having a look at to help get you started. A recent update on the Zoom blog has been guidance on hosting public meetings including how to keep uninvited guests out of your meeting.
The fast-tracked Coronavirus Bill was considered by the House of Commons on 23 March and House of Lords on 24/25 March. It has now received Royal Assent and is an Act of Parliament.
Provisions of particular relevance to local councils are on the postponement of local elections and local authority meetings. NALC is pressing the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to work with them on any subsequent regulations.
We don’t have the time-frame for those at present but will keep you updated.
The ERNLLCA office has been closed due to the current situation.. We are setting in place some temporary systems and we will be able to pick up and respond to emails. Our voicemail will be checked daily but email enquiries would be preferred. We hope to set up a temporary phone number to take us through the coming weeks. More to follow in the coming days.
We understand the frustrations many of you are voicing about the lack of definitive advice about holding meetings and NALC is pressing for clarity for our tier, please check www.nalc.gov.uk It does seem that the Bill going through Parliament, to bring about changes, does include parish and town councils - so, that's good news!.
As soon as we know about any changes to the legal position, we will tell you.
WORKING FROM HOME
Our colleagues at Parkinson Associates have produced a fact sheet for those who may have to work from home during the present crisis. It can be accessed here
ALL TRAINING EVENTS UP TO THE END OF MAY HAVE BEEN POSTPONED. WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF REFUNDING THOSE COUNCILS WHICH HAVE PAID FOR PLACES.
If the Government declares an
emergency and control measures are put in place limiting public gatherings, the
problem will arise of how councils can meet to make decisions. We await
advice from NALC on this but many councils already have committees, and their
powers could be reviewed and extended to include more in the way of agreeing
expenditure. This is a decision which the council has to make, a
committee cannot extend its own powers. Additionally councils are
reminded that the Local Government Act 1972, section 101, allows a council to
devolve most decision-making to the Clerk. Councils may wish to consider
putting such a resolution in place for the duration of any emergency, should
one be declared”.
Clearly there are some decisions
which can only be made by council e.g. agreeing the year-end accounts; agreeing
the AGAR; applying for borrowing. We await guidance from Government on
how such matters can be handled.
Councils will hold their annual
council meetings in May, if these meetings cannot go ahead please remember that
the current Chairman of the Council remains in that position until a new
Chairman is elected.
In the absence of a directive from
Government, those councils with offices that are accessible by the public
should consider if public access should remain in place.
As regards ERNLLCA, all planned
training events have been cancelled. This will be kept under review but
it seems unlikely that any training will be delivered for some time to
come. Our office is located in a public building and we have not been
given any information about closure however we may have to stagger when staff are
in the office to minimise contact between the team. Obviously we will not
be able to attend any meetings for the foreseeable future nor will we be able
to receive visitors. It is unlikely that the district committee meetings
will go ahead.
NALC has set up a Coronavirus page on its website www.nalc.gov.uk/coronavirus
In the event of the office being closed, our status will be displayed on the ERNLLCA website www.ernllca.info
Borrowing by parish and town councils
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued updated information and guidance on borrowing by councils. Please refer to the Members page to access this information.
Councils which are not members of ERNLLCA should contact the Association at firstname.lastname@example.org if they wish to borrow.