The Government first introduced the Quality Council Scheme in 2003 with the aim of encouraging councils, on behalf of their communities, to have a greater say in the running and improvement of local services. Parish and town councils are the democratically elected body closest to local communities and are ideally placed to know what is best for the people they serve. The scheme was significantly revised in July 2008.
To attain Quality Council Status, a council must demonstrate that it has the right attributes and the ability to take on the enhanced role and responsibility that Quality Council Status will bring.
A council must pass tests under the following 10 headings:
Taken as a whole, the tests exceed the statutory requirements which all town and parish councils need to satisfy as a matter of course, whatever their size. They represent standards that an efficient, well-run parish council that actively engages with and works for its community should achieve.
A detailed Guide to the Quality Council Scheme and various related guidance documents can be downloaded below.
Applications for Quality Status are vetted by a local Cumbria Panel of three people appointed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Successful councils receive a certificate confirming their Quality status for 4 years and can use the Council logo during this period. Quality Councils are required to re-apply every 4 years to keep their status.
Where the Panel declines to confer Quality Council status, the council will be told why and the Panel will indicate the specific improvements that are expected and a date after which it will be possible to apply again.
Quality Councils can play an enhanced role in their communities and in partnership with the Principal Authorities, ie the County and District Councils:
This enhanced role is supported by Parish Charters which have been agreed with the county council and all district councils in Cumbria. They set out the aspirations, protocols and scope of joint working between the three tiers of local government.