COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT News Release (273) issued by COI News Distribution
Service. 18 November 2008
Secretary Hazel Blears today outlined plans to encourage new town
and parish councils to be set up so that more decision-making
powers are devolved to local people, and said she particularly
wanted to see more set up in urban areas.
Recently passed legislation means that parish councils can now be
established in London for the first time in 45 years.
Over £750,000 will be allocated to the National Association of
Local Councils to help communities create new town and parish
councils, particularly in urban areas including London, and to
encourage both new and existing councils to work to meet the
highest possible standards in service delivery and community engagement.
Working with organisations including the Local Government
Association, the Society of Local Council Clerks and the
Participatory Budgeting Unit, the National Association of Local
Councils (NALC) will develop new good practice guidance on
devolving decision-making, a revitalised National Training
Strategy for town and parish councillors, and help for councillors
to encourage greater community involvement.
New and existing councils that successfully meet approved
standards will be recognised through NALC's Quality Parish
and Town Council Scheme - it is hoped that the number of Quality
Councils could rise from around 650 today, to as many as 2,500 by
There are currently 8,900 parish councils and 70,000 elected
parish councillors in England, covering 90 per cent of the
country. Although small in size, they perform key functions in
their local communities, such as managing parks and allotments,
maintaining community halls and investing in community transport projects.
Nineteen new parish and town councils were set up last year.
However changes announced in February make it easier for principal
authorities to respond to community demands for new parish
councils, without seeking Government approval.
Parish councils have been a popular and effective way to
represent the views of local people, particularly in rural areas.
Now, Ms Blears is looking to parish, town and neighbourhood
councils to repeat their success in England's cities,
representing people in densely-populated, urban areas - and, in
recognition of the impact they can make, changes have been made so
that, for the first time since 1963, parish councils can now be
created in London.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said:
"I am delighted to be able to support the creation of more
town and parish councils. As the smallest unit of electoral
democracy, they play a vital and effective role in putting power
in the hands of local people, to make the key decisions that
affect their local communities.
"But while parish councils have been particularly popular
and effective in representing local people's views in rural
areas, I would now like to see this success repeated in our towns
"I would also encourage all new and existing parish and town
councils to strive to meet the highest possible standards in
delivering local services and empowering communities, and aim to
become Quality councils.
"Often, services are best delivered at the most local level,
with local people, who are best placed to know what is right for
their local area, having a real say.
"Parish councils have a proven track record of giving local
people a voice on the issues that matter most to them - the
funding I am announcing today will support communities to create
more parish, town and neighbourhoods councils, and help existing
authorities to raise their game and stand ready to take on the
additional responsibilities to make a real difference to
Notes to editors
1. Communities in Control: real power, real people was published
on 9 July, 2008, and can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/communitiesincontrol
2. Details of new powers to create parish councils were published
on 15 February 2008 and can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/697732
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