Section 137: 2017/18 limit is£7.57
The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has confirmed that the appropriate sum for the purpose of section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 (the 1972 Act) for parish and town councils in England for 2017-18 is £7.57.
The 1972 Act enables local councils to spend a limited amount of money for purposes for which they have no other specific statutory power. The basic power is for a local council to spend money, subject to the statutory limit, on purposes “for the direct benefit of its area, or part of its area, or all or some of its inhabitants”. A council thus has considerable discretion in exercising the power but should be mindful at all times of the scope for making payments that might be thought inappropriate by the electors within the parish. As councillors are collectively expressing an opinion as to the commensurate local benefit, the expenditure under section 137 must be properly authorised by resolution
Latest Local Council Award Scheme achievement
Hinton Blewett Parish Council in B&NES have achieved the Foundation Award - Well Done!!
Sustaining Services & Infrastructure in Rural Communities
6th September 2017 - Shipham Village Hall, Somerset, BS25 1SG
It is an opportunity to share good practice, ideas and learn from other European Counties. The European Rural Parliament is a pan European organisation and ACRE has been leading a project that considers the importance of delivery of services and infrastructure in rural communities and how they can take action themselves. It is a free event (with lunch) funded by the EU. Programme attached with link to register and more information here
Royal Garden Party
Cllr Jim Weston of Banwell Parish Councils and his wife Jane
Voluntary Action North Somerset has set up a resources page on their website for Town and Parish Councils interested in Youth Councils.
But don’t forget the NALC publication “Whatever – yeah”!
Cllr Sweet of Marshfield Parish Council all ready with his wife Thelma for the 2017 Royal Garden Party.
WESTERN POWER DISTRIBUTION Stakeholder report
Bristol workshop report
SOUTH WEST CONFERENCE SUMMARY PRESENSTATIONS, WORKSHOPS ETC.,
DRAFT TEMPLATE CONTRACT
The report to next week’s National Council - item 4 Employment Issues - which includes a draft template contract for you to consider for potential use by councils with new employees. It sets out up-to-date statutory requirements and clarification that councils are able to determine their own requirements as they choose. The draft reads:
“It can be adapted for all new council employees, whatever their job. It leaves agreement to substantive terms and conditions of employment to individual councils and their employees. However, some contractual terms are subject to legal minima. For example, employees are entitled to at least the statutory minimum amount of paid annual leave. Where there are statutory minima, they have been included in the template contract of employment. Councils can, of course, agree employment terms that are higher than the statutory minima. For example, the model contract is part of the National Agreement. It contains pay and other terms and conditions of employment that are recommended by NALC/SLCC for clerks, deputy and assistant clerks and RFOs. It is intended for potential use with all new staff and not just clerks.”
You might also be aware of the round robin circular sent by the new Trades Union the Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC) to their members expressing concerns about this proposal in the strongest possible terms (See below).
I thought it might be helpful to address some of the points of concern and to reassure clerks.
1. This draft contract does not replace the currently agreed model contract based on the National Agreement with the SLCC. It would sit alongside that and with any other local template contracts that might exist for individual councils to consider in the light of local circumstances and needs. It would not replace any existing contracts.
2. It is draft at this stage and open for further consultation and discussion if National Council deems this appropriate. It has not been issued to any councils and is purely for you as National Council members to consider.
3. The report makes it very clear that the current Agreement continues. It notes however that this is out of date and needs review but “this has not been progressed due to changes in the governance of the society and the establishment of a new Trades Union – the Association of Local Council Clerks. NALC may well wish to take a view in due course whether and what shape it would like any such agreement/contract to take.” There are differing views held by county associations on the pros and cons of this which need further discussion and debate by you as councillors and representatives of the Employers Side.
4. NALC has no intention of withdrawing from national negotiation of terms and conditions if such negotiation is considered appropriate by you.
5. I am not aware of any formal request to NALC to recognise the ALCC though I am aware that they wrote to a number of county associations last summer asking them to sign up to county protocols including negotiating terms and conditions.
6. The Executive Committee, as reported to National Council, has taken the reasonable view that it wishes to see how the new Trades Union, the ALCC develops, in terms of membership and capacity before embarking on any negotiations. It also wishes to see in time a clean separation between the ALCC and the SLCC and greater clarification of the complementary roles we all exercise supporting councils, councillors and clerks. I have met with the new CEO of the Society, Rob Smith and we will be convening a meeting of our respective Chairs over the coming months.
7. NALC Chairman Sue Baxter and I will meet with the ALCC to discuss this and other matters.
Dr Jonathan Owen
MESSAGE TO ALL COUNCILS RE - ANNUAL RETURN 16/17
We have had a number of queries questioning when we will be sending out the 2016/17 Annual Return and information pack for this year’s Limited Assurance review. In previous years it has already been sent or is about to be sent at this time but this year it's going to be slightly later. The Joint Practitioners’ Advisory Group (JPAG) has updated this year’s Annual Return form and approved it at its meeting on 27 February 2017. It is now in final form and is being printed by the publishers.
We have been told to expect deliveries of the Annual Return form to us in the week commencing 20 March 2017. When we receive the Annual Return forms we will put yours together with the information we usually send you, for example, the 'What to do now' booklet and templates for working papers and public rights to help you complete the form and provide the information required to us. We should, therefore, be able to get the Annual Return and information pack to you by the end of March.
In the meantime, there are no changes to the format of Section 1 (the Annual Governance Statement), Section 2 (the Accounting Statement) or the Annual Internal Audit Report. So, if you have an early April meeting for approval of the Annual Governance Statement and the Accounting Statements, you may find now a good time to start pulling together the information in the same format as last year so that you are ready to complete the 2016/17 Annual Return form when you receive it at the end of March.
Annual return 2017 Declaration Schedule Public Inspection
PARISH PRECEPTS - A LETTER TO LOCAL COUNCILS, From Sue Baxter, Chairman of NALC link
Call for Action - Plunkett Foundation
Royal Garden Party 2017
Cllr Graham McKay (Chairman of Chew Stoke Parish Council) drew Marshfield Parish Council (South Gloucestershire) and Banwell Parish Council (North Somerset) from the hat to attend the 2017 Royal Garden Party to represent Avon Local Councils' Association.
Rural Grants Programme for the West of England
Attendance of the Police at Local Council meetings - Response from Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens HERE
NEW CHAIRMAN OF NALC CALLS FOR FULL PARISHING OF ENGLAND
Article in the MJ
NEW AUDIT ARRANGEMENTS FOR NEXT YEAR
Following the successful procurement exercise, the SAAA has now uploaded the text of the appointed auditor announcement by County area onto the SAAA website at http://www.localaudits.co.uk/appts.html
Can I flag up the following so that we ensure that returns are made to correct auditors
“It is important to note that for the financial year 2016/17 there are no changes to your existing audit arrangements and you should continue to work with your existing auditors on limited assurance reviews for accounts for the financial year 1 April 2016-31 March 2017.
The new appointments only become effective for the five year period in relation to accounts for the financial year beginning on 1 April 2017. All matters relating to the financial year 2016-17, including the Annual Return for the year 2016-17, should still be sent to your current external auditor.”
Presentation given by Dr Jonathan Owen, Chief Executive of the National Association of Local Councils, at the ALCA AGM October 8th 2016
Country Landowners Association
BREXIT - New Opportunities
Why should Local Councils respond to the consultation on capping precepts?
This is the long hovering threat of restricting ALL parish councils to a precept increase year-on-year = to < 2%.
It has now been specifically put forward as a possibility in the attached consultation
pages 8 (summary) 14 (the core of it)
& 24 (summary of questions) offer the particular, small, but sinister threat to small parish councils.
The rest of the document is probably beyond the competence of very small pc’s to comment on, but bear in mind that the cost of a referendum in a parish our size will be the same as that for an election - some £1200 (I verified this with NSC’s Mike Jones when the topic first arose).
We are, as you know, now in a position to establish fairly robust capital budgets that will allow us to accrue funds for most foreseeable needs; we are therefore less exposed to the problem than some.
However, were an urgent need to arise, or an opportunity for project cooperation with neighbouring parishes to crop up, we could not become involved, without bearing the cost of a referendum, which would be some 25-30% of the annual precept - BEFORE the precept was increased to fund the project in hand.
You may choose to respond - by a method indicated on page 4 - to the two consultation questions we are competent to answer. Let me know if you want me to put the matter on the agenda of the October meeting, so that it can be formally discussed and an appropriate response constructed and sent off before the consultation deadline.
Enjoy a stimulating read!!
Clerk, Walton-in-Gordano Parish Council
Your council can join the MY COMMUNITY (LINK) and get support for its local projects!
Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Councillor Janet Biggin accepting the Foundation Award from Cllr. Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council at the South Gloucestershire ALCA AGM on 12th September 2016
Neighbourhood Planning Bill - Letter from Gavin Banwell MP
DEVOLUTION: A Discussion Paper For CPRE
By law smaller councils, with an annual income below £25,000 must comply with the Transparency Code and have a website on which to display all information. To assist you can apply for a grant.
The next deadline is 18th July 2016 for applications to ALCA.
Press coverage of Blagdon Parish Council Foundation Award SEE HERE
SOLACE guidance on the EU Referendum for Local Authorities - SEE HERE
Missed the Pensions Briefing? You can go to the Gloucestershire Assocaition of Town & Parish Councils event at their members rate - SEE HERE
Royal Garden Party 2016
Representatives of Clutton Parish Council.
Councillor Rosemary Naish and Councillor David Phillips
NALC Council of the week 25th April 2016
Yate Town Council
Results of the RSPB Gull Survey
Urban Gulls - Briefing note
· The Housing and Planning Bill finally received Royal Assent yesterday after further debates this week on Lords amendments; on Monday the House of Commons again overturned the Lords and removed the neighbourhood right of appeal and reinserted the requirement for the Local Planning Authority to report on how any completed neighbourhood plan had been taken into account in making a decision and identifying any points of conflict with the plan; in response Baroness Kate Parminter tabled a compromise amendment aimed at strengthening the integrity of emerging and made neighbourhood plans but which she did not press to a vote; having reflected on our campaigning on the right of appeal and the debates that have taken place, There has been considerable positive support for neighbourhood planning and for strengthening the voice of local people and integrity of neighbourhood plans - We need to build on the government amendment and Brandon Lewis MP’s pledge to ‘work with colleagues to ensure that neighbourhood plans enjoy the primacy that we intend them to have in planning law’
· A debate took place on Wednesday on the powers of local authorities to charge for sporting events; this was a half hour Westminster Hall debate secured by Jack Lorpresti MP in which he spoke in support of Stoke Gifford Parish Council’s decision to charge organisers of a regular run held in their park; the chairman of the Local democracy APPG Andrea Jenkyns MP also spoke in the debate raising the funding of parish and town councils as well as mentioning NALC and work we are doing to lobby the government for the devolution of business rates; in his response the local government minister Marcus Jones said ‘It is quite legitimate to charge for specific facilities and specific activities. It is quite another thing to seek to overturn a long-standing tradition of free access to parks for everyday use. The Secretary of State has written to Councillor Brown, the chairman of Stoke Gifford parish council, about the matter’, summing up by saying ‘Charging for facilities and events is quite legitimate. Seeking to charge for everyday use is not’; you can read the full debate on Hansard;
Next Wednesday is the State Opening of Parliament including the Queen's Speech which will set out the government's programme of legislation and policies for the coming year; two bills we are expecting and have an interest in include a Garden Villages Bill and Modern Transport Bill, which will include measures expected earlier this year in a ‘buses bill’
In the Guardian: Parish Councils suit city dwellers too, not just rural Britain. What is local government and how can you get involved.
Will it be independents' day at Englands' biggest Parish Council?
External Audit 2016
Presentation on Limited Assurance Avon
What to do now BASIC booklet
What to do now Intermediate booklet
Notice of commencement
Declaration of Status of Accounts
WE LEADER grant fund now open for applications
Audit for Smaller Councils
Do you think your council does not have anyone that needs to go into a pension scheme?
QUALITY COUNCIL - Westfield Parish Council
This week’s council of the week is Westfield Parish Council in Avon, the first council in the county to be awarded the Local Council Award Scheme Quality Award.
Westfield Parish Council was established in 2011. Over the past four years it has worked to build up a solid financial and ethical framework and the Quality Award recognises that it has achieved that. The council’s clerk has also explained how the process of working towards the award has been beneficial, she said:
“Not only does it demonstrate that we work to nationally agreed standards, but it gives the reassurance to local people that its Parish Council is indeed working efficiently for their benefit.”
One of the Westfield’s priorities is to improve facilities in the village for the community, so the council was delighted to recently be awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Awards for All scheme to spend on new play equipment. Initial consultation with local residents highlighted the need for more interesting play equipment and a re-surface of the bmx track. Young people were consulted on exactly what they would like and as a result the installation will take place shortly.
Anticipating the spring, the parish council is part funding the cost of 4,000 daffodil bulbs and is arranging community planting events this month to get them all planted. These events see people working together both as individuals and from a variety of local groups including the allotment group and local school. In February next year the centre of Westfield will be awash with colour.
Next week the council’s Christmas Lights Switch On event takes place which is combined with the award of grants to local groups. The event includes free refreshments, Father Christmas with free gifts for the children, carols and the switch on of the lights of the council’s living Christmas Tree, which was planted in the first year of the Parish Council. As ever, it requires the whole parish council to work together as a team, one of the enduring strengths of this council.
When assessing Westfield Parish Council, the Local Council Award Scheme accreditation panel noted that it is an incredibly well organised and professionally run council, with effective communication with its community.
NALC is pleased to see Westfield setting a fantastic example for other councils, and particularly recently formed councils, to follow and we hope they will keep up the good work.
NALC picked to captain sector-led audit team
The Government has backed a proposal from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to lead the national procurement of audit for parish and town (local) councils and other smaller bodies from 2017.
Fly the Flag for the Commonwealth 2016
SUCCESS IN CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT PUBLIC MONEY!
West of England LEP Business Leaders appointed
West of England Local Enterprise Partnership update June 2015
NALC Grant funding news
£800k up for grabs from Prince's fund
The Prince's Countryside Fund is looking to invest £800,000 in initiatives that protect and sustain Britain's rural communities. Groups and organisations can apply for funding of up to £50,000 from the charity, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Since its inception in 2010, the Prince's Countryside Fund has given £5m in grants distributed to 120 projects across the country, directly benefiting 100,000 people.
New guide for smaller councils on Audit and Transparency
LOCAL COUNCILS AWARD SCHEME
The new Local Council Award Scheme replaced the Quality Parish Council scheme in January 2015. The improvements include a three level structure to help all councils, whether small or large, attain recognition for the work they do and meet the standards set by the sector.
Local Councils Award Scheme guidance booklet
To register for the scheme see page 18 of the above booklet.
We are all in one Local Government
- message from Ken Browse, Chairman of NALC to the Local Government Association
Making it Easier to set Up Local Councils
DCLG has advised that the appropriate sum for the purpose of section 137 (4) (a) of the Local Government Act 1972 for 2015 is £7.36
New salary scales
ALCA Constitution Adopted 4th October 2014
PUBLIC WORK LOANS
To inform you that the Government has tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which would enable the Government to abolish the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) and transfer its lending functions to another body using the process set out in the Public Bodies Act 2011. The Government plans to set out its proposals on transferring the lending functions to another body in a consultation document, in due course.
We are aware that most parish and town councils that undertake borrowing, obtain loans from the PWLB, and we wanted to reassure you that this reform is about governance only; i.e. it is a machinery of Government change. The proposals will have no impact on existing loans held by local councils, nor will they alter the policy or procedures for any future loans.
Local Government Finance - Capital Finance and Reserves Team
PENSIONS - NEW LEGISLATIONWho would have thought a presentation on Pensions could be interesting? Jeff Houston of the LGA certainly made sure it was in his presentation on 11th December. It took EVERYONE by surprise that the new legislation means that, not only are there implications for Local Councils' employment their Clerk, but it could also mean action needs to be taken on that person they employ a few hours a week to cut the grass or empty the skip! Jeff explained why and what Local councils need to do - by law - and much more.
New tax breaks for small shops
Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014: local audit impact assessment
Open and Accountable Local Government - plain English Guide
|| Lesley Hart and Grace Boddy from Bitton Parish Council very much enjoyed their visit to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 21st. Although the skies were overcast it was warm and the forecast rain and thunderstorms did not materialise. The Royal Party included the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Beatrice and Prince Michael of Kent. A walk around the gardens and delicate cucumber sandwiches and cakes completed the picture of a Royal Garden Party!
Thank you to ALCA for making the arrangements for this once in a lifetime experience.
Royal Garden Party 2014
Hugh & Jill Prentice (Wellow Parish Council) who represented ALCA at the Royal Garden party