Councils

Where there are small Parish Councils who act as a form of neighbourhood infrastructure, there are concerns around competence and capability as well as legitimacy, especially when elections are not held. Some Parish Councils are like feudal dynasties operating on inertia.

If the Parish Council is the only body for community led planning, what happens if they are no good? What options do local people have?

Many councillors shared their frustrations about Council meetings and procedures. This is especially true for councillors operating within a cabinet system where many feel dis-empowered, distanced and uninvolved. The analogy was made that this is often what people in communities feel like!

Others were frustrated with the style of working and the lack of time/space for constructive dialogue and debate.

…Punch and Judy show; only allowed to speak certain amount of time – no dialogue – it’s all prepared speeches – very experienced councillors will jump up and respond, but once you’ve spoken , you can’t speak again unless someone/something is misrepresented……

Local procurement processes are seen as a block to making the most of the new community rights

…community group comes together and claims right to bid or challenge – this triggers an open procurement process – others could then put in tenders…..Local Authorities are under an obligation to look at all bids to deliver and if have best value context, how do you weight the bids when you may have larger private enterprises who are geared up to take a loss to get a toe in the door?

The new ‘general power of competence’ could be interpreted at different levels or tiers, and there is concern about how it is decided who can do what at which levels/tier. Localism as an idea could lead to this power being used at a local level, yet the issues of subsidiarity needs to be taken into consideration.

Would Local Authorities need to take economies of scale into account when supporting the community right to challenge? This issue is seen as crucial as communities would not be likely to challenge to deliver a service across a borough or a town. This raises issues around fragmentation, consistency and quality of services.

When there is no corporate response and approach to implementing localism, it makes it hard for officers and councillors to work jointly on how to implement the ideas and work out the detail that is required.

If senior officers are not fully on board then they can use their power to block developments and progress around the localism agenda

We tried to get a recycling contract and the biggest block was that the existing contractor had a good relationship with the local authority officers…it was insurmountable

Now have a look at what people said about structures as barriers