“I learnt a great deal and made several useful contacts”, said Sarah. During the morning, examples of best practice within town and parish councils were given and ideas shared. The challenges of devolution were discussed.
“I’d like Colne to go in for the Local Council Award Scheme – a kind of kitemark for the quality of local councils”, said Sarah. “There are some beacon councils, like Oswestry, I’d like to visit”.
Delegates also heard about NALC’s lobbying with Central Government. Thanks to them, business rates on lavatories were recently removed and now NALC is pressing ahead to get them removed from other community buildings, like town halls and community centres. NALC is also pressing for town and parish councils to secure their funding via being awarded 5% of local Business Rates, plus a share of the Community Infrastructure Levy and The New Homes Bonus.
Under the Sustainable Communities Act, NALC hopes that town and parish councils will soon be given the right to appeal against the removal of conditions on planning applications and the right to be statutory consultees on licensing.
The topic of Neighbourhood Planning was on many people’s lips and it was clear that the concensus was that these plans help communities to shape their areas, though Lancashire remains a Neighbourhood Planning blackspot. “This is something I’d like to help address in Colne”, commented Sarah.