The 63rd Annual General Meeting of the Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils took place at Towcester Town Hall on Wednesday 20 October 2010.
On a bitterly cold evening more than sixty delegates attended the meeting, which was a combination of annual business, presentations and debate.
Mr Paul Blantern, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire County Council was elected as President for 2010/2011 and in his President’s Address gave an overview of the difficult circumstances facing the public sector. Mr Blantern said “28 – 31% of the money coming in to Northamptonshire is dissapearing” but described the situation as “a burning platform; a chance to innovate”. He added that the two most important things to do were to drive through prosperity and to make the most of the opportunities provided by the Localism and Big Society agendas.
For the second year in a row there was a contested election for County Committee, there being 20 candidates for 18 places. The succesful candidates (download full list) will hold their first meeting on 20 November. An especially warm welcome is extended to the four new members, Jane Austin (Moulton Parish Council), Kath Bonner-Dunham (Brackley Town Council), Richard Lewis (Rushden Town Council) and Tracy Sampson (Grange Park Parish Council).
The AGM then considered membership subscription rates for the year commencing 1 April 2010 and resolved to freeze the per council element of the subscription and increase the per elector element by 3%. The increase means that a parish council with an electorate of 1,000 would pay an additional £3.91 per year, which was felt to be acceptable even in the current economic climate.
The keynote speaker was local government author and legal expert Mr Paul Clayden. He presented an overview of legislation brought in over the last decade that has impacted parish and town councils – and it is a surprisingly long list! Freedom of Information, the Crime & Disorder Act, Best Value, the Code of Conduct, the Quality Parish Scheme, the Parish Basic Allowance, new audit regulations and the lighter touch regime, the Clean Neighbourhoods Act, the Power of Wellbeing and the introduction of Community Governnace Reviews has all happened in the last ten years or so. No wonder parishes feel that there are more demands placed upon them now than ten years ago! Mr Clayden went on to speculate on what the forthcoming Decentralisation & Localism Bill will mean for parish and town councils. He said “Parishes will have to watch very carefully – and I’m sure your county and national representative bodies will be doing just that”.
A motion put by Brackley Town Council received widespread support. It called for longer consultation deadlines to be given to parish and town councils for district, county and national consultations. It was noted that the recent consultation on council tax reforms had only been for six weeks, the majority of which had been over the summer holidays. The motion was easily carried and the County Committee will now consider what representations to make.
The evening was rounded off with the presentation of their Quality Parish Council certificate to Brixworth Parish Council and the announcement that Brackley Town Council had won the “Parish Power” photo competition with their montage of photos of the open spaces in Brackley under the management of the Town Council. Copies of the photos will be displayed at the Northants CALC offices in Litchborough.