Town & parish council - resource hub

Town & parish council - resource hub

A helpful resource for town and parish clerks and councillors within the county of Northumberland.

Information for town & parish councillors & clerks

Welcome to the town and parish council resource hub. Here you will find information specifically tailored to your interests as town and parish councillors and local council clerks.

We have drawn together links to existing content on the main county council public website for ease of access and have provided some additional content. The links are designed to expand and contract. We do hope you will find it useful. Please do not hesitate to contact the locality team with suggests for additions and improvements.

Locality development
The locality development team has been removed from the Council structure. Its strategic functions relating to local councils have been incorporporated into a new community regeneration team. Local issues should be reported via the council clerk using online forms available on the Council's website in the first instance, and to the local neighbourhood or highways teams thereafter.

If your council has difficulty in resolving local issues, the community regeneration team can be contacted for assistance via the clerk or chair if the issue cannot be resolved or for advice. They also administer the community chest scheme.

 
Meet the team
Tony Kirsop
Community regeneration manager
01670 623 416
07917 266 864
Tony.Kirsop@northumberland.gov.uk
Tony covers the south area of the county including Amble, Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth, West Bedlington, and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea town councils, and the parish councils of Choppington, East Bedlington and Seaton Valley. 



Iain Hedley
Community regeneration officer
01670 620 379
07747 473 687
Iain.Hedley@northumberland.gov.uk
Iain covers the north area of the county, including Alnwick, and Berwick-upon-Tweed town councils, and the parish councils of Belford with Middleton, North Sunderland and Seahouses, Rothbury and Wooler.



Anne Lawson
Community regeneration officer
07917 266 866
Anne.Lawson@northumberland.gov.uk
Anne covers the west area of the county, including Haltwhistle, Hexham, Ponteland and Prudhoe town councils, and the parish councils of Allendale, Bellingham, Corbridge and Haydon.
Town & parish liaison working group
The town and parish liaison working group (TPLWG) was created in 2013 to provide a forum for town and parish councils (T&PCs) to meet with elected county council members on a regular basis.

The group meets to consider and make recommendations to the county council relating to the working arrangements with T&PCs, including the T&PC charter.

The group provides an opportunity for members to discuss issues such as asset transfers and partnership working. It is able to make recommendations to, and offer comment on, the respective rights, roles and responsibilities of each tier of local government and the expectations they have of the others. Such recommendations are made to the full council.

Minutes of the TPLWG can be downloaded here:
The charter
In 2009, following local government reorganisation in Northumberland, the new united Northumberland County Council (NCC) adopted a local council charter. The purpose of the charter was to define the relationship between NCC and T&PCs.

It was designed to enable effective partnership working between the two tiers of local government within Northumberland at a time of significant change. A review of the principles within the charter was undertaken in 2011. The charter documents
Planning
Your town or parish council has a key role to play in the planning process, providing a local perspective based on a considerable amount of local knowledge.

The county council will notify your clerk of every application submitted from within your area. The views of your council are reported, considered and responded to in every application report.

Extra conditions may be added to a recommendation of approval, as a result of concerns you raise. Once an application has been decided, a copy of the decision notice is made available to the parish or town council via the clerk.

Planning applications
From time to time, there may be applications in a neighbouring parish that may have an impact on your community and where you may wish to be represented. You can check on all applications in your area here.

General information about planning applications is available here.

Your council can also attend planning committee meetings to speak on applications within your area. Details of forthcoming planning committee meetings and their agendas can be found here.

Development management teams
The county is divided up into three areas, each with a dedicated development management team. Details about your area team can be found here.

Monitoring and enforcement
The county council monitors developments to ensure they are being carried out properly. Alleged breaches of planning control are investigated and action is taken when necessary. 

More information on how we monitor and enforce developments and investigate breaches of planning control can be found here.

Planning policy
Your council can also have input into the development of planning policies which control future development across Northumberland, through consultation such as the local plan core strategy.

Further information regarding planning policy can be found here.

Neighbourhood planning
Since the Localism Act 2011, your council has the power to develop a neighbourhood plan. 

Further information can be found here.

Northumberland National Park Authority
The Northumberland National Park Authority is the planning authority within Northumberland National Park. 30 parish councils lie partly or largely within the boundaries of the park.

The civil parishes of Kilham, Akeld, Yearle, Ilderton and Roddam have no parish council. 
The authority's planning services information can be found here.

The Planning Portal
The Planning Portal is the UK Government's online planning and building resource for England and Wales. It can be found here.
Highways
Your town or parish council has a wide range of powers relating to highways. For instance, it has powers to:
  • maintain footpaths and bridleways
  • to provide traffic signs and other warning signs
  • to install roadside seats
  • to plant and maintain verges
  • to provide lighting, litter bins and parking places
In the main though, the provision of highways maintenance and infastructure falls upon the County Council.

Our approach to highways infrastructure asset management is outlined in this leaflet 130603-HMEP-leaflet

You can find information on the following issues, including reporting issues, by clicking the links below:
Neighbourhood services
The county council's neighbourhood services teams are responsible for keeping the public roads and pavements in Northumberland clear of litter, leaves, grit and debris. They also undertake grass cutting, grounds maintenance, maintenance of parks and open spaces and cemeteries. Parish clerks wishing to organise an annual 'walkabout' for their parish should contact their local neighbourhood services manager.
Public protection
The public protection service incorporates:
  • trading standards
  • environmental health
  • licensing
  • building control
  • animal welfare/dog control
  • pest control and community safety
  • related services, including land charges and the internal corporate health and safety function
Overall, the aim is to protect public safety and health for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors to Northumberland. All public protection functions aim to be a public health and/or safety intervention.

The public protection service is made up of the following three units:

Public health protection
This unit covers:
  • environmental protection and industrial process permitting
  • air quality management
  • housing standards
  • noise and nuisance control
  • pollution control
  • contaminated land
  • operational community safety
  • anti-social behaviour control
  • welfare of companion animals and dog control
  • planning application consultations and developer advice
  • environmental enforcement
Click the links below to report or learn more about some of these areas: Public safety
This unit includes: Business and consumer protection
This unit covers:
Democratic, elections and legal
Democratic services
Democratic services are responsible for the effective day-to-day provision of support for the county council's decision-making process. This involves the preparation of agendas and production of minutes for all committees and working groups, including the parish liaison working group. Democratic services are also responsible for providing procedural and administrative advice.

Democratic services manage planning committees including arrangements for speaking for or against planning applications. Town and parish councils wishing to be personally represented must lodge a formal request in person, by telephone or email to democratic services, no later than noon on the day of the committee meeting. The service is also responsible for conducting community governance reviews, including the creation of parish councils, amendments to the number of seats and administrative boundaries.

Queries should be directed to Lesley Bennett on 01670 622613 or Lesley.Bennett@northumberland.gov.uk.

Elections
The elections service hold and update the electoral register for the whole of Northumberland, ensuring people who are entitled to vote have that opportunity. They process applications for postal votes or proxy votes if electors cannot get to their local polling station.

They organise elections for all casual vacancies in town and parish councils and full elections every four years. They are responsible for providing:
  • nomination papers for candidates
  • poll cards for electors
  • polling stations and staff
  • conducting the election according to the relevant regulations
  • declaring the result
The elections service can be contacted at elections@northumberland.gov.uk.


Legal services
Legal services are responsible for maintaining “arrangements” for standards linked to the Northumberland County Council’s code of conduct. These “arrangements” explain how complaints can be made when an elected or co-opted member of a town or parish council has failed to comply with the code of conduct. They set out how the authority will deal with allegations of a failure to comply with these terms.

The monitoring officer is the person responsible for appointing, where appropriate, an investigating officer for overseeing the process. They are also responsible for maintaining a register of the declarations of financial interests of all parish and town councillors.

The monitoring officer for Northumberland is Liam Henry: Liam.Henry@northumberland.gov.uk

NOTE: There is now just a single version of the Declaration of Percuniary and Other Interests form which covers both the NCC and NALC codes of conduct. The form should be printed on single sides and the reverse of page 6 signed and dated.
Register of common land and village greens
Northumberland County Council is the commons registration authority for common land and village greens within the administrative county of Northumberland. It maintains the register of town and village greens and common land. This includes, in relation to common land: 
  • the land section. This describes the land by reference to the register map, which is part of the register.
  • the rights section. This sets out the nature and extent of rights of common registered over the land.
  • the ownership register. This gives details of the registered owner(s) of the land (if any), so long as the title to the land is not registered at HM Land Registry.
The register of village greens takes a similar form. Under the Localism Act 2011, communities can also designate green open space as part of their local or neighbourhood plan. 

If a parish or town council is interested in making an application for village green status, further information is available by clicking here.

To make enquiries about the register, please contact democratic services on 01670 622607 or email CommonsSearches@northumberland.gov.uk.

Information on corrective applications can be found here.


Lieutenancy
The Lord-Lieutenant, Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland, is Her Majesty The Queen’s representative in the county and upholds the dignity of the Crown, gives encouragement to voluntary services and takes an active interest in the business and social life of the county.
Other council services
Archives
The records deposited with archives should no longer be required for current use. If there are records that may need to be consulted, even if it is only annually, they should be retained until they are no longer needed.

Suitable documents will include:
  • accounts
  • log books
  • minutes
  • unique information related to the parishes or place
  • material deemed to have future research potential
Records will be repackaged into acid-free containers on deposit and then catalogued in accordance with our cataloguing prioritisation scheme. Once the collection is listed, the council will receive a copy of the list. Small deposits can be made during opening times. However, for large deposits please phone ahead to advise the archives staff when you plan to visit. For further information, please contact collections@woodhorn.org.uk.

If you require secure storage for records you need to retain, or which are not suitable for permanent retention in the archives, our service can offer you secure storage in an environmentally controlled strongroom.
You can contact our records officer Wayne Smith on 01670 624484 or 01670 624482, or email recordsmanagement@woodhorn.org.uk for a quote or to discuss your storage needs.
 
Information services
The information services team currently support and host a number of third party websites and servers, including on behalf of town and parish councils. They are more than happy to work with town and parish councils to investigate their requirements and develop proposals.

Services are normally arranged on a case-by-case basis and are subject to service level agreements. If you would like to discuss access to this service, please enquire at Chris.topham@northumberland.gov.uk.

Payroll
NCC employee services provide a payroll service for a number of external organisations, including a small number of predominantly large town and parish councils. The cost is charged on a transaction basis. Typically, town and parish councils that access NCC payroll also access the local government pension scheme (LGPS) administered by NCC.

Local government pension scheme
Each town and parish council in Northumberland can pass a resolution to give their employees the right to join the LGPS, administered by Northumberland County Council.

The LGPS is a benefit pension scheme financed by employer and employee contributions. The employee contribution rate is fixed by regulations. The employer contribution rate is fixed by the actuary to meet the balance of the cost of providing pension benefits.

The employer pays the bigger share of the cost of providing the benefits and bears all of the risk of the scheme, such as investment, longevity and inflation risk. The employer contribution rate can change every three years. The rate set is non-negotiable.

Employer liability does not necessarily end when an employee leaves the town or parish council’s employment.
Because of the very long-term nature of the commitment and risks borne by employers participating in the LGPS, town and parish councils offering access to the LGPS may wish to pass a resolution to designate only certain staff as eligible for the LGPS, rather than an all-encompassing resolution which would allow access for all staff, current and future.

Town and parish councils may wish to take their own legal or actuarial advice and should understand the commitment they are making if opting to participate in the LGPS.

Occupational health
The occupational health unit (OHU) provides an independent and impartial service to support NCC and external partners, including town and parish councils, in managing issues where work affects the health of staff, or the health of staff affects their work. These services are available on a fee basis.

The OHU offers:
  • pre-employment screening
  • sickness absence management and return to work
  • health surveillance
  • ill health retirement/deferred pension applications
Supporting services include psychotherapy, reflexology and a foot health practitioner.
Enquiries should be directed to 01670 623146 or occupational@northumberland.gov.uk.

Central print unit
The central print unit provides an extensive range of printing services for the county council and various third party organisations, including town and parish councils. They can provide:
  • copying
  • typesetting
  • laminating
  • padding
  • photocopying
  • colour copying
  • large format printing
  • comb, wire and thermal binding
  • stitching
  • collating and folding
Staff will be happy to discuss your requirements. Please contact Lorraine Hayton on 01670 623186 or Lorraine.Hayton@northumberland.gov.uk.
Grants & funding
There are a range of grant schemes open to town and parish councils. Some of the key grant schemes are listed here. In addition, the county council maintains a grants portal which can be accessed here.

Sport England
This fund is part of the Places People Play programme, which aims to deliver a mass participation sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Capital grants are available to refurbish and improve up to 1,000 community sports clubs. Information can be found here.

Community assets and services grants
Interested in taking over a local service or in buying local land or buildings that matter to your community and taking over the ownership of land and buildings through asset transfer? Find out more here.

War memorials grant scheme
English Heritage and the Wolfson Foundation, in association with Friends of War Memorials, are providing grants for the repair and conservation of freestanding war memorials in England.

These grants are intended to help those who are responsible for the upkeep of war memorials. The grants are designed to support the care and preservation of war memorials to a high standard, and to prevent the decay of this important part of our built heritage.

Grants will normally be for up to a maximum of 75% of eligible costs, with a maximum grant of £30,000. Further information can be found here.

Fund for local communities to deliver services
Run by Locality and the Local Government Association, this programme will provide funding and support to help local communities within England to design and deliver services that focus on local priorities and reduce costs within England.

The Our Place! funding follows a successful year-long pilot programme, which saw neighbourhoods across the country working out how to improve the lives of local residents. Further information can be found here.

Community Right to Challenge grant programme
The aim of this £110 million financial support scheme is to support voluntary organisations wanting to take over the running of public services in their communities.

The programme will complement the wider Community Rights programme. Communities with good ideas for how they can run local public services can access advice and support to develop their skills to be able to bid for and run excellent local services. This includes:
  • pre-feasibility grants of £10,000
  • grants to support preparation of feasibility competing in procurement bids of up to £100,000
  • service delivery grants
Further information about the programme can be found here.

Veolia Environmental Trust
Funding is available for environmental and community projects in the UK that are within five miles of a qualifying facility operated by Veolia Environmental Services (UK) plc.

Projects categories are:
  • reclamation of land
  • remediation of pollution
  • public amenities
  • conservation of biodiversity
  • restoration of buildings of historic interest
Further information from the trust is available here.

Northumberland County Council - S106 housing developer funds for sport and play
There are opportunities for organisations to secure funding in the former Tynedale and southeast Northumberland areas for certain sport and play projects. The funding comes via contributions from housing developers based on policies put in place by some of the former districts.

Further information is available here.

Northumberland County Council - Get Going Fund
The fund is now closed for the foreseeable future. If you require further information, please contact Declan Langan by email Declan.langan@northumberland.gov.uk or phone 01670 624748, or view the fund webpage here.
Community Rights
The Localism Act 2011 enshrined in law for the first time a new set of rights for communities, designed to put more power back in the hands of local people.

The legislation put in place new community rights, relating to the following four areas:
Learning Together
Learning Together access for town and parish councils
Town and parish councils can now access Northumberland County Council's learning management system (LMS). Town and parish council members and clerks are now able to self-register onto the Learning Together site and create an account which will provide access to Modern Councillor, a suite of 19 e-learning modules, including:
  • data protection
  • public speaking
  • licencing and regulation
  • chairing meetings
  • community leadership
A full list is available here.

The content and extent of these learning resources will be developed according to the demands and needs of town & parish councils, in line with those of NCC members.

You will need to register as an ‘external user’. If you are unsure if you are an authorised user, please contact Learning&OD@northumberland.gov.uk.

You are encouraged to view the external user video guide at the foot of the homepage before you begin registration.
Latest news
Latest news
Latest news from the county council or town and parish councils.

(02.12.16) Who's who? Guidance on the use of social media
The standards committee for the county has requested that new guidance for members is made available to town and parish councils. The document can be viewed here.

(02.12.16) Town and parish council conference, 13 October 2016:
Papers:
Featured parish
This section is for towns and parishes wishing to promote their work.
  • Amble Town Council, joined by various organisations and individuals, have produced a book: In Memory of the Fallen, about Amble in the early 1900s and its people who fought for their country. Details can be found here.
  • Broomley and Stocksfield Parish Council produce a newsletter which we think is rather good. Their latest copy can be found here.
Clerk vacancies
This section is for town and parish councils seeking to recruit a clerk or other paid officer to list their vacancy.
Useful links
Useful websites