Smoothing way between county and parishes

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A CHARTER has been drawn up to improve the working relationship between two layers of democracy.

A revised Local Council Charter for Northumberland has been approved by Executive members at Northumberland County Council, which aims to set out ways of improving the relationship between the authority and town and parish councils.

Officers told the committee that the charter was the culmination of a lot of hard work and although the relationship between the county and parish and town councils had improved, there was still more work to be done.

The charter highlights the fact that the two tiers of local government need to work more closely in order to better serve local people.

Consultation with parish and town councils ended last December, with the authorities raising concerns over the increase in election expenses and amount of services being given to them, which in turn led to an increase in their own tax precepts.

The new charter is a high-level framework document, recognising the respective roles of each council, and setting out how relations should be managed.

Council Deputy Leader Roger Styring said: “It’s meant to be a working relationship between the county council and parish councils in partnership.

“We’re trying to address all the issues that have been made to us.”

Coun Neil Bradbury added: “This is a much better document than the original charter we had which didn’t resolve a lot of the issues we had.

“We’re aiming for a better relationship between the two levels of government.

“We need to keep going in terms of talking to each other. There has been improvement on both sides, but we need work on as many methods of communication between us and parish councils, who we must remember are mostly volunteers.”

The charter also defines the roles and relationships of the county council and individual local councils, helping define the expectations each has of the other.