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REPORT ON DEVOLUTION OF ARUN SERVICES TO TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILS

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REPORT ON DEVOLUTION OF ARUN SERVICES TO TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILS Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                        Agenda item no. 15


                                                                 Arun District Council
                                                                 Maltravers Road
                                                                 Littlehampton
                                                                 West Sussex
                                                                 BN17 5LF
                                                                 Tel: 01903-737500
                                                                 Fax: 01903-732765
                                                                 DX: 57406 Littlehampton
To: Clerks of Town and Parish Councils,                          Minicom: 01903-732765
Chairman of Town and Parish Councils                             e-mail: ian.sumnall@arun.gov.uk
and Parish Meetings
                                                                 13 November 2002


Dear Clerk / Chairman

DEVOLUTION OF SERVICES

The District Council is wanting to consult with our partners in Town and Parish Councils
and Parish Meetings on the matter of whether the devolution of Arun's services to
yourselves is of interest to your Council. Attached to this letter is a report which went to
our Cabinet in September this year, as well as the document "Principles of a Working
Partnership", which was last updated in April 2001 in conjunction with ADALC. My
purpose in writing to you therefore is to seek to initiate consultation and as you will see
from the report, initially to see whether there is agreement on the principles on which any
form of devolution of services or other types of joint arrangements / joint funding, should
be established. I am also aware that currently we have a variety of such arrangements
with Town and Parish Councils, and as you will see from the attached report, we are
simultaneously proposing to review how well these arrangements are working. Your views
will also be sought on this subject.

Again, as the report suggests, Arun would wish to receive your views individually, and also
have a discussion as to what should be the way forward at the next round of Area
Partnership Panels / Joint Downland Area Committee in early 2003.

I know that a number of Town and Parish Councils in Arun are already considering what
they might wish to do in relation to the White Paper proposals concerning "Quality Town
and Parish Councils", and this consultation is bearing this proposal very much in mind.

Therefore, we are seeking your views at this early stage about what principles should
govern alternative service delivery arrangements, and offering to meet with you if you wish
to discuss this outside the Partnership Panels and Downland Area Committee meetings.

I await your reaction.

Yours sincerely


Ian Sumnall
Chief Executive
REPORT ON DEVOLUTION OF ARUN SERVICES TO TOWN
AND PARISH COUNCILS


1.   BACKGROUND:
     In 1994 Arun signed "Principles of a Working Partnership" with the Arun District
     Association of Local Councils. This set out principles in relation to consultation
     and concerning partnerships between the two tiers in relation to the delivery of
     services. This document was updated in April 2001 and is attached to this report.
     These principles have been used in relation to joint service delivery concerning
     public conveniences, for instance.
     More recently Central Government, in its Rural White Paper in November 2000,
     launched the concept of "Quality Town and Parish Councils". Those parish and
     town councils who attain this "Quality" status could approach their district and / or
     county councils to seek the devolution of services to them where they could
     demonstrate Best Value. Understandably, the Council, over the past few months,
     has received approaches from a number of Town and Parish Councils as to what
     its attitude would be to such devolution.
     The purpose of this report is to suggest that the Cabinet agrees to enter into
     discussions with Town and Parish Councils collectively on this subject through
     the two Area Partnership Panels and the Joint Downland Area Committee. The
     report also suggests some principles concerning this matter which it might wish to
     adopt for the purposes of consultation.


2.   PROPOSALS:
     The first proposal is that the Council should initiate discussion on this matter in
     the context of the White Paper proposals relating to "Quality Town and Parish
     Councils", before coming to a view as to whether to revise the current principles
     as set out in the 2001 Partnership document. This consultation would be best
     started through the two Area Partnership Panels and the Joint Downland Area
     Committee in early 2003. This could then be followed up with one-to-one
     meetings if there was a demand, but this would still be based on the principles of
     devolved or shared service delivery. At the conclusion of this process, the
     Council could then prepare its policies on this subject which it could adopt for any
     discussions commencing in the Council Year 2003/04. It would be important to
     include the County Council in such discussions as well as the Sussex Association
     of Local Councils (SALC).
     The second proposal is to set out, in a very tentative manner, guiding principles
     which the Council might wish to adopt strictly for the purpose of initiating the
     consultation process as explained earlier.
     It is suggested that the following principles could form the basis of the Council's
     approach to devolved and / or shared delivery of existing District Council
     services:-

     1. Use the April 2001 "Principles of a Working Partnership".
     2. Focus on what is best for the recipient of the service i.e. resident, customer,
     rather than on what is "best" for the organisation e.g. district or parish council.
     3. In relation to 2. "best" could be defined as in the context of both the principles
     currently required to assess "Best Value" as well as the principle of "subsidiarity".
     4. Avoid "double taxation".
     5. Properly evaluate the devolved decision-making approach to some County
     and District services as undertaken through the Joint Downland Area Committee,
     as an alternative approach to the devolved delivery of services.
     6. In certain instances consider the role of towns enhancing their role as "Market
     Towns" as set out in the Rural White Paper and performing functions for smaller
     communities which are within their hinterland.
     7. Ensure that within this process the issue of better access to services by
     residents etc. is taken into account.
     8. Follow the criteria as set out for "Quality Town and Parish Councils".
     The third proposal is that the Cabinet could suggest that part of this consultation
     process includes a review of the current arrangements in Arun where "District"
     services are provided in some form of partnership arrangement with Town and
     Parish Councils. This is a matter which one of the Scrutiny Committees might
     wish to look at, including looking at current examples in other authorities.


3. CABINET DECISION:
     On 23 September 2002 Arun's Cabinet decided -
     1. Consultation be initiated on the matter of the devolution of District
     services to Town and Parish Councils;
     2. For consultation purposes, the guiding principles 1 - 7 as set out in the
     report be set, together with an additional principal 8 relating to Quality
     Town and Parish Councils, which will form the basis of this consultation
     process; and
     3. One of the Scrutiny Committees be requested to consider reviewing the
     current position of devolved / shared services between District and Town
     and Parish Councils.




                                                             November 2002
                    ARUN DISTRICT COUNCIL and

     ARUN DISTRICT ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS



            PRINCIPLES OF A WORKING
                  PARTNERSHIP
1.   INTRODUCTION

     Arun District Council, together with Town and Parish Councils and Parish
     Meetings (local councils) within the Arun District are partners with others in the
     local government of their communities. Each council has its own set of duties
     and responsibilities, its own democratic mandate and a vision for the future of its
     community.

     In July 1999 the three tiers of local government in Arun signed a Statement of
     Intent, pledging their intention to “work together to produce and implement a
     community strategy - a plan of action, owned by the community, which will be a
     positive force for change over a period of years. That plan will include clearly
     measurable and achievable targets that will promote the economic, social and
     environmental well-being of the community of Arun”.

     Also in 1999, the three Area Partnership Panels, for the Downland, Eastern and
     Western areas, agreed a new constitution, establishing their role in developing
     and monitoring implementation of the Community Strategy.

     These principles seek to recognise and give effect to this partnership.

2.   CONSULTATION PRINCIPLES

     (i)    It is recognised that local councils have a key role in representing the
            views of their local communities and similarly that the District Council
            speaks for the Arun community. The role of all Councillors as democratic
            representatives is paramount;

     (ii)   Flexible ways of working together can enhance decision-making, bringing
            practical benefits to the community the Council serves. Settling any
            differences of opinion in an amicable way without reference to press or
            public comment is to be preferred.

            The District Council has adopted some clear Principles of Consultation on
            which it bases all its work on involving members of the public in its
            decision-making processes. This states:
             “Town and Parish Councils are representative, elected bodies. As such,
             the District Council places considerable weight on their views. The most
             important consultative mechanism between the three tiers of local
             government in Arun is through the three Area Panels. This arrangement
             does not inhibit direct consultation with individual local councils as set out
             in the Principles of a Working Partnership, agreed between the District
             Council and Arun District Association of Local Councils. Where there is
             disagreement within a neighbourhood or village about a policy or plan, the
             District Council will recognise the view of the Town or Parish Council, the
             elected body, as representing the community.”

     (iii)   District and local councils will make arrangements for regular consultations
             and discussions on matters affecting their areas and will foster good
             relations through officers and Councillors;

     (iv)    The District Council will convene an annual joint meeting of the Area
             Partnership Panels. In addition Arun will meet, as required, with local
             councils to discuss issues concerning Council services;

     (v)     The Council will endeavour to inform the local council of proposals which
             are likely to affect its area and, where possible, give sufficient time to
             consider the views of the local council before taking action.

3.   STATUTORY CONSULTATION

     (i)     District and local councils, where involved in statutory consultations, will
             always endeavour to comply with mandatory timescales and information
             requirements;

     (ii)    Where practical, councils will endeavour to supply more than the
             mandatory minimum in terms of information and assistance so that the
             subsequent comment can be most useful;

     (iii)   When the District Council obtains a view of a local council with which it
             subsequently disagrees, it will be normal practice to give an explanation
             why that decision had been taken; and

     (iv)    When a matter which requires investigation occurs, e.g. breach of planning
             control, the local council may act on behalf of a resident to maintain
             confidentiality.

4.   DISCRETIONARY CONSULTATIONS

     The District Council, in consultation with local councils through the Arun District
     Association of Local Councils, will adopt appropriate procedures for consultations
     on a range of functions and issues such as:-

     (i)     Public Entertainment Licences.

     (ii)    Proposals to reduce, rearrange or discontinue any service provided within
             the local council’s area including such items as refuse collection, off-street
             car parking schemes, closure of public amenities, etc.
5.   CO-OPERATION

     (i)     The District Council and the local councils will consider whether their
             responses could be enhanced by co-operation in cases such as:-

             ! provision of any consultation with a government department or statutory
             body; and

             !   lobbying major organisations.

     (ii)    Where the District Council consults a local special interest group on any
             local issue affecting the community at large, it will also consult the local
             council on that issue.

6.   DISTRICT AND LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS CONCERNING SERVICE DELIVERY

     (i)     The development of Area Action Plans as part of the Community Strategy
             process focuses attention on the way in which effectiveness could be
             enhanced by working with others, or by financial or technical co-operation.
             With regard to service delivery the District Council and local councils are
             committed to the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. “The powers of government
             should be exercised at the lowest possible level”;

     (ii)    The District Council will consider requests by local councils for the transfer
             of responsibilities for functions of a local and non-strategic nature. Such
             requests will be considered according to the procedure to be adopted for
             such arrangements;

     (iii)   The District Council will consider the possibilities for management or
             agency agreements if transfer is inappropriate and local councils may
             consider if their aims can be met by topping up District expenditure,
             recognising the constraints of the new Council Tax Benefit Subsidy
             Limitation scheme, with the clear intention of avoiding the potential for
             double-rating.

     (iv)    The District Council will aim to make available its expertise to local
             councils on an informal basis;

     (v)     Local Councils will ensure that notification of all regular meetings and
             Annual Parish Meetings is sent to their District Councillor(s); and

     (vi)    District Councillors will be encouraged to attend local council meetings
             and, when invited by the Chairman to do so, will give a report on items of
             current concern either to the District and/or local council.

7.   PROTOCOL ON EVENTS

     (i)     Where the District Council is organising an event within a town or parish
             council area, the Parish Council Chairman or Town Mayor will be invited
             as a matter of course and offered a role in the proceedings. District Ward
             Councillors will also be invited. The Town Mayor or Parish Council
             Chairman will be made to feel a part of the proceedings; his/her exact role
             would be determined in discussion with the organisers of the event in
             question but might be, for example, to offer a welcome to the town or
             parish or to give the Vote of Thanks.

     (ii)    In return, Town and Parish Councils will ensure a District Council
             representation at events they are organising. In many cases this would be
             a representation by the District Ward Councillor(s) as well as Town and
             Parish Ward Councillors. However, when the event is marking a project to
             which the District Council had made a financial contribution, it would be
             appropriate that the relevant Cabinet Member is invited as well and offered
             a role in the proceedings. NB Effective co-operation between Mayors and
             their secretaries at the beginning of each municipal year with a view to
             developing a mutual understanding to avoid, as far as possible, areas of
             conflict.

     (iii)   Where an event is organised by an outside body and the involvement of
             both the District Council and Town/Parish Council is requested, there
             should be adequate liaison with and between the two Councils over the
             most appropriate representation, in line with the general principles of this
             protocol.

     (iv)    Where the event is being organised solely for the purpose of achieving
             publicity for a new venture or initiative e.g. a photo-call for local press,
             thought will be given to providing “centre stage” to the beneficiaries of the
             project - that is, members of the public who will benefit from the new
             initiative.

     (v)     Where the event is of sufficient civic significance for the Chairman of the
             District Council to be involved (or the Vice-Chairman in his/her absence),
             the normal protocol set down in the Local Government Act 1972, is that he
             or she takes precedence over the County Council Chairman, Town
             Mayors, Parish Council Chairmen and all other guests. However, in line
             with the principles of the Community Strategy and Area Partnership Panels
             which stress equality between the three tiers of local government,
             arrangements will reflect this spirit of partnership at all times, whilst
             observing the Act.

8.   MONITORING THESE PRINCIPLES

     (i)     The Arun District Association of Local Councils commend this Code to its
             members in co-operation with the Arun District Council; and

     (ii)    The Code will be reviewed by Arun District Council and ADALC annually to
             consider any amendment that may become necessary in the light of
             experience, in particular consultation arrangements.

				
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