Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Ravenstonedale Parish Council. Quality Parish Information

Ravenstonedale got "the Badge" on 22nd November 2005. At that time it was one of only 230 out of the 8500 parish & town councils nationally (and only four of 236 in Cumbria) to have qualified. Orton received Quality status on 20th December 2005, bringing the total of Quality Councils in Cumbria to five. Orton Parish Council and Ravenstonedale PC share the same clerk – Chris Elphick. This is our first instance of a double accreditation to two councils sharing one clerk in the same county.

Ravenstonedale Parish Council Quality Award Melvyn Redger, president of CALC, presents quality status certificates to David Smith, of Orton Parish Council, and to John Bull, chairman of Ravenstonedale Parish Council. The presentations were made at the Roundthorn Country House Hotel.

The Quality Parish and Town Council scheme was launched in June 2003, following the publication of the governments Rural White Paper, 2000. The scheme was designed to provide a benchmark minimum standards for parish and town councils and enable them to better represent the communities they serve. The scheme also aims to give enhance relationships between local councils, principal authorities and community and voluntary sector organisations.

In order to achieve Quality status, parish and town councils must demonstrate that they have reached the standard required by passing several tests. These tests as summarised below;

• Electoral Mandate • Qualifications of the Clerk • Council Meetings • Communications • Annual Report • Accounts • Code of Conduct

The tests exceed the statutory duties of parish and town councils and represent the standards that an efficient, well run parish council should achieve.

The Benefits of Quality Status

Quality parish and town councils are not only in a position to show their local communities that they are performing above national minimum standards but they are in a better position to influence the decision making process and/or take on additional services and areas of responsibility, from their principal local authorities.

Who benefits?

The benefits of this scheme affect three groups:
1. the community
2. the parish or town council itself
3. the principal local authority

1) Community benefits:

• local people will know that the council will be well led and is accountable, visible and representative
• more responsive services - the Quality council will be capable of solving local problems with greater authority and have real ownership and control over services and decisions that effects local lives
• real contact and discussions with their Quality council
• a local access point providing information on services

2) Benefits to the parish or town council itself:

• greater credibility in the eyes of the local community, voluntary and private sectors and principal local authorities
• greater civic pride
• more representative of the local community
• better ability to articulate the needs and wishes of the local community
• it will achieve more by working in partnership with other organisations
• able to demonstrate that it is effectively and properly managed which will install greater confidence in the community
• delivery of more local services - if the council wishes to
• greater involvement by the voluntary and community sector and principal local authorities, e.g. developing parish plans, market town health checks etc
• a better informed community
• a well trained clerk, through the Certificate in Local Council Administration (or University of Gloucestershire qualification in Local Policy)
• Possible more powers and funding in the future.

3) Principal Authority benefits

• reassurance that the Quality council has been independently assessed and is therefore capable of working with the principal authority and can deliver services on their behalf or in partnership
• reliable evidence of the competence of the Quality council, through the four year re-assessment process
• proof that the Quality council is willing and able to be fully involved in local issues (this will be particularly valuable when implementing new initiatives)
• stronger partnership working, with the town or parish council bringing their local perspective and experience to the table. Quality councils should be more innovative and pro-active, and will want to share their ideas and experiences
• increased confidence that the quality council is representative, competent, well managed and therefore capable of taking on and sustaining an enhanced role

Reproduced from the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald 17th December 2005

Three parish councils in Cumbria have been awarded 'Quality' status under a national scheme from DEFRA and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The councils - Ravenstonedale, in Eden; Arnside, in South Lakeland; and Lamplugh, in Copeland - all had to demonstrate that they were representative of their community, good at communicating with them and open, as well as transparent and efficient in the way they conduct their business.

They now join Keswick Town Council as the four Quality councils in the county.

Tom mcMullen, the Quality Parish co-ordinator for Cumbria said "I congratulate the parish councils on their success. All had to pass seven stringent tests of their effectiveness, and this then had to be proved by submission of evidence.

"All the councils are relatively small but were not afraid to test themselves against national criteria and were willing to go the extra mile on behalf of their communities. They justly deserve the accolade and should be proud of their achievemets."