From 2008 until 2013, the Liberal Democrat administration worked their socks off to transfer services from the County Council out to Parish Councils, the predominantly Tory led Parishes resisted with all their might, using the ‘white paper’ that formed an all purpose unitary County Council to bash any suggestion that precepts should be exploited to provide vital streetcare services.
Labour travelled a different path leaving the Parishes to decide for themselves if they wished to enhance services. Officers from the County Council worked closely with those who wished to try to deliver better more detailed or specialist services over and above those considered ‘core ‘ being delivered across the Unitary County.
People then welcomed the Tories in this May. Those Parish leaders who showed such resistance to change previously met at the Northumberland Association of Local Councils AGM this month where a major discussion was held to engage Parish Councils in leaving the comfort zone they enjoy in law and becoming the Rural and Urban District Councils from the past.
Abolished in 1974 Rural and Urban District Councils were second tier councils who delivered most of the people services including housing across England. They were forced to amalgamate and become the new second tier of Borough’s and Districts that we enjoyed and who’s local attitudes have been missed since 2008.
Now in late 2017 the County Council is back asking Parishes to take the strain, as the County Council manages grey austerity in order to run down services.
This time its Tories Speaking with a dominant Tory parish councillor group. Councillor Wearmouth of Stobhill Ward has said he will now look at precepts and those who put them up will have to expect to deliver services themselves or expect to engage in ever more joint working arrangements.
The Tory message for Councillors is to learn, learn, learn, about the Localism Bill. A similar message is being given by the Trade Unions, Unison, Unite and GMB insisting Councillors learn, about the Transfer of Undertakings regulations, the health and safety at work act, membership of the Local Government Pensions Fund, protection of workers rights, hours of work etc., etc.