Parish councils are at the very heart of their communities; giving local communities a voice and making people more involved in the decisions that affect them. In Cumbria over 70% of the population live in communities served by parish councils. Parish councils want to serve their communities well and make a real difference to people's lives.
The new Local Council Award Scheme (which replaces the Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme) has been designed to celebrate the successes of the very best parish councils, and to provide a framework to support all parish councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. The scheme offers councils the opportunity to show that they meet the standards set by the sector, assessed by their peers, and to put in place the conditions for further improvement.
The Award Scheme has been designed to provide the tools and encouragement to those councils at the beginning of their improvement journeys, as well as promoting and recognising councils that are at the cutting edge of the sector. It is only through the sector working together, to share best practice, drive up standards and supporting those who are committed to improving their offer to their communities, that individual councils and the sector as a whole will reach its full potential.
Why councils should apply
There are a number of reasons why a council could benefit from taking part in the award scheme. For councils who are already confident that they perform to a high standard the scheme provides assurance to the council that it is up-to-date and progressive by the standards set by the sector. For councils who wish to improve, it provides a framework to plan and make the first steps. And for all councils winning the award should be celebration for councillors and officers, as their commitment and hard work is recognised and respected.
The award is a tool that councils can use when working with the local community and local partners, giving them confidence that the council is delivering to a national professional standard.
And finally, the scheme will contribute to the national reputation of parish councils demonstrating achievement and a commitment to improvement.
How to apply
1. The first step is to register online with NALC. You will then be charged a £50 registration fee by NALC.
Tip: You do not need to have all the criteria in place at this stage; you are simply registering your interest in taking part in the scheme
Tip: You can apply for any award level - you don't need to start at Foundation
2. When you have the criteria prepared and in place, confirm this in a public meeting.
3. You should then notify CALC and provide the checklist (downloadable below) including links to online documents. At this stage you will also pay an accreditation fee to CALC. This fee depends on the award level you are applying for and the size of your council.
4. Your local panel coordinator will contact you with the result of your application.
Full information on the process can be found in the Local Council Award Scheme Guide (downloadable below).
Previous Accreditation under the Quality Parish Scheme
In recognition of the calibre of all existing Quality Councils and the patience and support of councils over the transition period between the schemes, NALC wants to make it as quick and easy as possible for councils to be accredited by the new scheme.
Your Quality Council Status will expire on 31 January 2015.
You can apply for an automatic transition to the Foundation level of the new Local Council Award Scheme - at no cost and without taking part in any accreditation process. Simply fill out the application form. We recommend you do this as a first step and then consider working towards the next two award levels.
Free Foundation Award Level:
If you would not like a 'break' in your status between the old and new schemes you should complete the simple application form before 31 January 2015. Your free Foundation level accreditation will last until January 2016.
Quality Award Level:
Your council can apply for this any time during 2015 at half the normal fee.
Quality Gold Award Level:
Your council can apply for this any time during 2015 at 75% the normal fee.
Documents for download