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Join NALC’s Create a Council campaign

As many Big Local areas start to look to think about ways to secure their legacy, NALC invites you to think about creating new local community, town and parish councils.

By Jonathan Owen, chief executive, National Association of Local Councils (NALC)

More power to communities

At the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), we believe that communities where people feel empowered to take more control over their surroundings are more confident and have a better quality of life.

In fact, like many Big Local areas, NALC’s members (10,000 community, town and parish councils), would like to see devolution from Whitehall continue beyond the county, borough and district councils and spread further into urban and rural communities.

We know that devolving more power to communities and involving them in creating change takes time and resources. A strong civic infrastructure at all levels of local government can create more opportunities and support for volunteers. But everyone needs to be prepared to experiment and take risks to find new ways to collaborate and share power with residents.

When that happens – the results are great! We’ve seen many examples of Big Local communities and local councils working together, from Dover Town Council co-funding Dover Big Local’s tourism project, to a smaller parish council like Stirchley and Brookside offering lots of expertise and support when acting as a locally trusted organisation for Brookside Big Local.

So if you live in an area that already has a local council, have you considered reaching out to them to collaborate? Or have you thought of becoming a parish or town councillor? You could join the army of 80,000 community leaders already out there.

Local councils and your Big Local legacy

However, local councils at the moment represent only around 35% of the country. This means that much of the country is missing out on very local democratic representation that can improve general well-being and quality of life within their communities. Local councils can provide a wide range of local services, speak on behalf of their communities, borrow money and raise their own small share of council tax, the precept – currently averaging £60 per household per year.

NALC has long supported the need for a fundamental shift of power to local people and supports the establishment of local councils in all areas so that people can benefit from very local representation and opportunities for service delivery.

In Big Local areas, there are communities taking more control of the way services are delivered to people. We would like to see this trend made sustainable for the long term and believe that local people creating new councils in unparished areas could provide sound governance and revenue for the future.

We’d invite you to explore setting up a local council in your area if there isn’t one already. If you’d like to make this change in your community or want to find out more, join our Create a Council campaign.

You’ll be in good company: there are 200 more new local councils in England now than there were just over ten years ago. Through the establishment of new local councils, communities have been taking more control over their decisions and services.

It’s not just for rural areas either – there are now new urban local councils in London, Birmingham, York, Leeds, Lowestoft, Bradford and Milton Keynes.

Despite the significant challenges public services and local government face, there has probably never been a better opportunity to bring about change in communities by decentralising and devolving more power to local councils and people and to build a ‘localist powerhouse’ with the capacity, ambition and creativity to transform local areas.

Find out more at Spring Events

I’ll be talking about all of this at Birmingham Spring Event on 13 May, alongside Cllr Dr Rob Pocock from England’s largest new council, Sutton Coldfield. I look forward to taking your questions!