Charter

Staffordshire County Council Local Council Charter

Staffordshire County Council acknowledges that town and parish councils (“local councils”) are the level of local government closest to the people. By working with them, the County Council aims to act in partnership with local communities, while balancing the needs of the wider locality.

In their role as democratically accountable bodies, local councils offer the means of decentralising decision-making and the provision of services, as well as revitalising local governance. In turn, local councils recognise the strategic role of the County Council, with the economies of scale and equitable distribution of services which it can achieve.

The first Parish Council Charter was adopted in 1995. This revised version builds on the experience of enacting the original Charter and reflects the increasing importance attached by the Government to partnership working. It sets out how the County Council and local councils in Staffordshire can proceed together into the next century.

Consultation

The County Council will give local councils the opportunity to comment before making a decision which affects the local community.

  • The County Council has consulted every local council regarding the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Structure Plan 1996/2011.
  • The County Council obtained the views of local councils on improvements to rural bus services arising from the allocation of the Rural Bus Grant.
  • Service Provision

    If a local council (or group of councils) wishes to take on delegated responsibility for service delivery, the County Council will encourage this, where it is cost-effective and practicable.

    Where a local council takes over service provision, the level of funding will be agreed by the County Council and the local council.

    • Local councils have signed agreements to undertake routine highway maintenance (including grass cutting, sign cleaning etc) on behalf of the County Council (eg Betley Parish Council)
    • Under the Community Paths Initiative, local councils look after public footpaths and rights of way in their area.
    • Local councils are to be invited to help monitor mineral extraction and waste management sites for the County Council.

    Local Community Life

    The County Council will promote local community life through capital grants to village halls and community centres, and through the community discount scheme for the disposal of surplus property.

    • The County Council advises the Area Committees of the Staffordshire Parish Councils’ Association of all property declared surplus in their locality.
    • The County Council will encourage schools to develop links with their local council to promote the best use of the facilities (eg Lapley, Stretton and Wheaton Aston Parish Council office on school premises).

    Information and Complaints

    When the County Council consults local councils, it will provide them with sufficient information to enable them to reach an informed view on the matter, and give them adequate time to respond.

    The County Council will also keep local councils informed by sending them as many copies of “County News” as they require.

    The County Council will hold meetings with local councils (or groups of councils) to discuss matters of common interest, as required.

    If a local council is dissatisfied with the County Council’s actions, its response to a request for information, or its failure to consult, it may initiate the County Council’s formal complaints procedure.

    • In line with its Customer Charter, the County Council will acknowledge letters within five working days of receipt and provide a full reply within 10 working days for straightforward matters, or 20 working days if the issue is complicated.
    • The County Council will take the necessary steps to ensure that all staff are aware of the existence of the Local Council Charter and its commitments.
    • The County Council will publish as much information as possible on the Staffordshire Web site and encourage local councils to develop their own pages of information.

    Practical Support

    The County Council will offer local councils access to its own support services, to enable councils to take advantage of facilities such as training, printing and purchasing.

    • County Council staff have led training courses for local councils (eg on Health and Safety).
    • Local councils have purchased IT equipment at competitive prices through the County Council’s Information Systems Service.
    • Local councils have used the County Council’s Central Print and Design Unit for their publications, leaflets, etc.

    Sustainability

    The County Council will work in partnership with local councils to promote the creation of a sustainable environment in Staffordshire.

    • The County Council continues to support the Staffordshire Environment Forum and its Specialist Working Group (in which local councils participate) and to develop its Local Agenda 21 programme.

    Local Governance

    Representatives of the Staffordshire Parish Councils’ Association sit on area advisory committees, including those being established with District/Borough Councils, and on other local groups such as those convened to consider sensitive developments, for example opencast mining sites.

    The County Council will continue to maintain its close working relationship with the Staffordshire Parish Councils’ Association through the annual meetings between senior Members and the SPCA Executive and its Area Committees.

    Where local people so wish, the County Council will help to empower communities by supporting the creation of parishes in those areas which currently do not have them.

    The County Council will ensure that the commitments arising from this Charter complement those given by District/Borough Councils in their respective Parish Charters.

    • Local council representatives sit as co-opted members on various Area Advisory Committees.
    • In addition to the meetings with the SPCA, meetings have been held between County Council officers and the clerks of the larger local councils in Staffordshire.
    • The County Council has supported the creation of parish councils in the urban area of Burton upon Trent, and in Hednesford.
    • The Local Council Charter is consistent with the Charters produced by East Staffordshire Borough Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Stafford Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.