2017 Annual Conference & AGM

More than 160 people converged on Moulton, Northampton on Saturday 7 October 2017 for the 2017 Northants CALC Annual General Meeting. 130 councillors and clerks representing over eighty member councils registered for the event, which is a new record for the Association. The venue was the superb and impressive Moulton Community Centre, a brand new community building opened in June 2017 ( https://www.moultonnorthants-pc.gov.uk/community-centre1.html ). The capital project was delivered by Moulton Parish Council and is a fantastic example of what parish councils can achieve with the right resources, drive and vision. Visitors were greeted on arrival with hot bacon rolls provided by the excellent Forget-me-Not Café at Moulton Community Centre ( https://www.facebook.com/forgetmenotmoulton/ ).

In a changed format this year, the AGM opened with a BBC Question Time-style panel comprising the MP for Daventry, Chris Heaton-Harris, the Chief Constable for Northamptonshire, Simon Edens, the Chairman of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), Sue Baxter, and the Deputy Leader of Northamptonshire County Council (NCC), Matt Golby. Questions were submitted the week before by delegates and in true BBCQT fashion the panellists did not know what the questions were in advance.

The first question was put by Kevin Nichols of Everdon Parish Council who asked "Does the panel know what happened to Localism?". It gave the panellists an opportunity to give their perspective on how local services are delivered and whether or not there are opportunities for parish and town councils to be part of the solution. The consensus appeared to be that some progress on Localism had been made but that much more needed to be done to drive the delivery of services down to the most local level possible.

The second question was from Stephen Hiscock of Hunsbury Meadows Parish Council: "With continuing reductions in the number and visibility of local police, are low crime areas now being ignored?", a reference to the perceived lack of [visible] policing outside the main towns in the county. The question sparked a good discussion that addressed the reality of reducing resources and increasing demands, particularly in new areas such as cyber-crime and online safety and child exploitation.

Sarah Rodger with the Mic.

Sam Dobbs of Harlestone Parish Council asked the third and final substantive question: "With cuts in virtually all public services in the county, there is growing opportunity for parish councils to fill in the gaps. What services could be devolved to us and will finance follow function?". Every panellist said they could see opportunities for parish and town councils to be part of the solution, whether it be sponsoring a PCSO or taking over grass cutting. However, in answer to the second part of the question it was clear that it will be up to parish and town councils to fund such services from the precept or from raising income from other sources.

The traditional "and finally…" question went to Sara Homer of Wootton Parish Council who asked "In your role, what one thing would cause you to have a coughing fit?" in a reference to Theresa May's infamous speech at the Conservative Party Conference earlier in the week. The panel gave suitably light-hearted answers, which meant that the session ended on a high note and with warm applause from the audience.

After a thirty minute refreshment break, with tea and delicious cakes from the Forget-me-Not Café, the delegates reassembled for the formal business of the AGM. With the recent resignation of Dr Paul Blantern from Northamptonshire County Council (NCC), the AGM was chaired by Vice President Jeffrey Greenwell and the appointment of a new President of the Association was delegated to the board of directors. The vice presidents and directors were re-appointed as per the recommendations in the paper below. The Annual Report for the year ending 31 March 2017 was received and the subscription fees for 2018/19 were agreed.

NALC Chairman Sue Baxter made a short presentation in lieu of a President's Address. Sue gave an overview of national issues and outlined the NALC Prospectus to government. She called for councils to be fiscally responsible and stressed that where precepts are significantly increased the council must be able to demonstrate that it has engaged with its electorate. She urged councils to be flexible in funding and to look for diverse income sources, such as Community Shares. Sue acknowledged that much needs to be done to build the capacity of the sector but nevertheless encouraged councils to be confident and not afraid to rise to new challenges. Sue took questions from the floor and concluded by thanking delegates for all they do for their communities.

The last part of the AGM consisted of awards and presentations. Recognition was given to the clerks who have achieved the CiLCA qualification since last year's AGM (Josie Flavell from Crick Parish Council, Geoffrey Gill from Yardley Hastings Parish Council and Shirley Wong from Overstone Parish Council) and to Raunds Town Council for gaining Quality Gold accreditation under the Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS). Northants CALC Chief Executive, Danny Moody, then read out the commendation for the Northamptonshire Council of the Year Award, which went to Weedon Bec Parish Council in recognition of the courage, fortitude and leadership of the clerk and councillors in very difficult circumstances. The chairman of Weedon Bec Parish Council, Zoe O'Toole, collected the award, which is sponsored by Came & Co, providers of parish council insurance. The prize draw this year was won by Nicki Phillips, Clerk to Lilford cum Wigsthorpe & Thorpe Achurch Parish Council. The prize of £300 in vouchers and a bottle of champagne was generously donated by Wicksteed Playgrounds and was presented to Nicki by Wicksteed Areas Sales Manager, Jodie Midlane.

Jeffrey Greenwell concluded the meeting by offering thanks to all the sponsors and exhibitors (see list below), to the "unflappable Anne Kirkland" and her team for putting on such a superb event, to Moulton Parish Council for the wonderful hosting and to the four guest speakers for their input and insight. Jeffrey thanked all the delegates for their attendance and participation, and Danny Moody for his diligent and excellent administration of proceedings.

The feedback received at the end of the event and afterwards suggests that the 70th Northants CALC AGM was the best one yet! Roll on next year!!

Thank you to our sponsors, exhibitors and supporters:

• Northamptonshire County Council (https://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/pages/default.aspx)

• SLCC (www.slcc.co.uk/branch/northamptonshire)

• Playforce (http://www.playforce.co.uk/)

• 2Commune (https://www.2commune.com/)

• Wicksteed Playgrounds (https://wicksteed.co.uk/)

• Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association (http://www.northamptonshireneighbourhoodwatch.co.uk/)

• NCC Emergency Planning (www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/fire-safety-and-emergencies/emergencies)

Papers & Presentations

Below is the agenda for the 70th Annual General Meeting of the Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils (Northants CALC) held on Saturday 7 October 2017 at Moulton Community Centre.

Also below are:

  • Item 4 – Appointment of directors for 2017/18
  • Item 6 – Minutes of the AGM held on 8 October 2016
  • Item 7 – Annual Report & Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2017
  • Item 8 – Membership Subscriptions for 2018/19

2017 Annual Conference - Agenda

2017 Annual Conference - Director Appointments

2017 Annual Conference - Minutes of 2016 AGM

2017 Annual Conference - Annual Report

2017 Annual Conference - Subscription Rates