The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is the nationally recognised membership body representing the interests of 9,000 local councils and their 80,000 local councillors in England. Local (community, neighbourhood, parish, village and town) councils are statutory bodies and are the first tier of local government in England. They serve electorates ranging from small rural communities, towns and small cities; all are independently elected and raise a precept – a form of council tax – from the local community. Together, they can be identified as among the nation’s most influential grouping of grassroots opinion-formers.
Over 15 million people live in communities served by local councils, around 35% of the population. Local councils work towards improving community well being and providing better services at a local level. Their activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community; delivering services to meet local needs; striving to improve quality of life and community well being.
Through an extensive range of discretionary powers local councils provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects.
These existing powers were recently strengthened by powers contained in the Localism Act including the extension of the General power of competence to eligible local councils.
Over 250 new local councils have been established in the last 13 years.