Throughout England, parish, town, community, neighbourhood and village councils (local councils) work towards improving community wellbeing and providing more focused services at a local level. They are the most local tier of local government, closer to the community than the level of district, borough or unitary council (principal authorities). Local councils provide a voice for communities, helping people to feel more involved in the decisions that affect them.
This resource is intended for individuals and community groups who think that a new local council might be right for their area. It provides you with information about what local councils are and what they can bring to a community, and gives you the tools to take the idea out to the community and generate support. It also sets out the steps you will need to take to trigger a community governance review (a review by your principal authority that will lead to the creation of a new local council) and provides ideas and information about what to do once your new local council is created.
The resource is broken down into three sections. The first section provides a little background explaining just what a local council is, how it works and what it does. It also gives some examples of the work that existing local councils already do to make their areas better places to live.
Should you decide that a local council is just what is needed for your community, section two provides you with practical advice about the steps you can take to secure a local council for your area. It also includes template documents and guidance to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
The third section deals with life once you have your local council. It highlights the responsibilities of your principal authority once an order creating your local council is made (an order is the document that creates the local council in law). It considers how best to develop the council through tools such as community led planning, through training and through the Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme. It also includes case studies showing how other people have set up their own local councils, the issues and challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
Creating a new local council may take time but with energy behind it there is the potential to make a significant, positive impact on your local community. However, you do not have to go through the process on your own. Support is available from county associations of local councils located across the country. They are the local member bodies for local councils and have a wealth of experience to help support you. The national body for local councils, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) can provide you with contact details for your county association should you need it. In city areas you may be unsure whether you can find support from a county association. You can, support is available. Again, NALC will be happy to point you in the right direction.