2018 Annual Conference & AGM

The 71 st  Northants CALC AGM took place on Saturday 6 October 2018 at the Moulton Community Centre in Moulton, Northamptonshire. 135 delegates from 73 parish and town councils were greeted on arrival with delicious hot bacon rolls from the  Forget-me-Not Café at Moulton Community Centre . Fresh fruit was also available but quite a bit of that was left over at the end, whereas all the bacon rolls completely disappeared!

The first part of the meeting transacted the AGM business. All vice presidents and directors were re-elected and the meeting received and adopted the Annual Report & Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2018. The membership subscription rate for 2019/20 was agreed, with a 2.3% increase in line with inflation (see papers below).

The first speaker was Nick Plumb, Policy Officer at Locality, the national membership network for community organisations. Nick has a politics and public affairs background and has had a diverse career, including being a Research Assistant and Translator for the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty! Nick's thought-provoking presentation was titled "Localism Rebooted: Power Partnerships and the Need for Change" and he spoke about Locality's People Power report and that parish and town councils were the "first responders" of local government, closest to the people they serve. He called for "a fundamental rethink of how people, power and politics intercept" and noted that "when communities are done to it reinforces the unhelpful paternalistic relationship between people and politics" rather than encouraging people and communities to be self-reliant and self-supporting. Nick described the work of Locality's Commission on the Future of Localism, which was set up in 2017 and led to the People Power report. The Commission heard from community representatives across the country who feel frustrated about the difficulty in influencing decisions that affect their area. Nick said "We talk about co-design and co-production as buzzwords, but participatory democracy needs to be made real". A lively question and answer session followed the presentation with subjects ranging from the most effective governance structure for principal authorities, to the need to attract new people from diverse backgrounds into the parish and town council sector and the role of technology in making councils more engaging.

Download a copy of Nick Plumb's presentation.

After a break, during which delegates refuelled with coffee and cakes, the AGM received a presentation from Alistair Jones, Associate Professor at the Local Governance Research Unit (LGRU) at De Montfort University on "Challenges & Opportunities for Local Councils". Alistair provided an entertaining overview of the LGRU's Councillor Commission, which conducted a year-long independent review of the role and work of the councillor (of all tiers) and of the contribution made by councillors to the governance of their communities and the country. Alistair contended that the parish and town council sector is still trying to shake off the Vicar of Dibley image. He said "The perception is that's what parish and town councils are like; idiots and busybodies. But you are proper LOCAL government. The most important thing is your proximity to the community." The report of the Councillor Commission - The Voice of the Councillor – makes twenty recommendations for how local government can be strengthened, including calling for a national independent inquiry to be undertaken by the National Association of Local Councils to fully understand the relationship between parish and town councils and principal authorities with the aim of identifying best practice and producing a national framework for parish-principal relationships. Alistair identified several areas that are holding parish and town councils back, such as the current legal power to create new councils being vested in district councils. "Why should borough and district councils be in charge and have the final say on whether or not a new parish or town council should be created?", he challenged. The Commission calls for the power of principal councils under the Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to conduct Community Governance Reviews to be abolished so that communities themselves can decide how they are governed. The questions following the presentation highlighted the frequent frustrations that parish and town council have of not being able to influence decisions locally, with several questioners describing situations where local views were overturned by the principal councils or by the Secretary of State. Alistair recognised the frustration and said there were no easy answers but that "the problem will persist until the system [of local government] is changed". Making reference to Local Government Reorganisation in Northamptonshire, Alistair said "There is a mania for going for bigger units of local government, whereas local government should be all about being connected to localities and communities" adding "it is essential that every community has a parish or town council representing it".

Download a copy of Alistair Jones's presentation.

Vice President Jeffrey Greenwell then congratulated and led a round of applause for the clerks who have achieved the CiLCA qualification since last year's AGM (Gill Wells from West Haddon and Hackleton Parish Councils, Jo Moore from Loddington Parish Council, Jayne Bunting from Boughton Parish Council, Mike Billingham from Great Houghton Parish Council, Emma Gibson from Spratton Parish Council, Becky Jones from Wilbarston Parish Council and Claire Tilley from Cranford Parish Council).

Northants CALC CEO, Danny Moody, then read out the supporting statement for the Northamptonshire Council of the Year Award, which this year went to Glapthorn Parish Council, a council with fewer than 250 electors and a precept of less than £10,000. Last year it took out a loan to upgrade its street lighting to modern and energy efficient LED and earlier this year the council completed a Neighbourhood Plan with 88% of votes cast in favour of adopting the plan with an incredible 61% turnout. The Neighbourhood Plan was delivered within budget and in under 2 years from start to finish.

The prize draw this year for £300 in vouchers and a bottle of champagne generously donated by Wicksteed Playgrounds was won by Thrapston Town Council. Cllr Sam Cribb from Thrapston received the prize from Wicksteed Areas Sales Manager, Jodie Midlane.

Jeffrey Greenwell closed the meeting by offering thanks to all the sponsors and exhibitors (see list below), to "Anne Kirkland and her team from Litchborough" for putting on a great event, to Moulton Parish Council for hosting the AGM for a second year and to the two guest speakers for their presentations. Jeffrey thanked all the delegates for supporting the AGM, and Danny Moody for his dedicated service to parish and town councils throughout the year.

The success of the 71st Northants CALC AGM was down to all the clerks and councillors from across the county who gave up their Saturday morning to attend. The Association is extremely grateful for the support and we look forward to seeing you back again for the 72nd AGM! (put the date in your diary now… 5 October 2019!).

Thank you to our sponsors, exhibitors and supporters:

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

• Streetscape (http://www.streetscape-products.co.uk)

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

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

• Came & Co Insurance (https://parishinsurance.co.uk/)

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

• CCLA (Investments) (https://www.ccla.co.uk)

• Snows Timber (http://www.snowstimber.com)

Below is the agenda for the 71st Annual General Meeting of the Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils (Northants CALC) held on Saturday 6 October 2018 at Moulton Community Centre.

Also below are:

  • Item 3 – Appointment of directors for 2018/19
  • Item 4 – Minutes of the AGM held on 7 October 2017
  • Item 5 – Annual Report & Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2018
  • Item 6 – Membership Subscriptions for 2019/20

Papers & Presentations

2018 Annual Conference - Programme and Agenda

2018 Annual Conference - Director Appointments

2018 Annual Conference - Minutes of 2017 AGM

2018 Annual Conference - Annual Report

2018 Annual Conference - Subscription Rates