Cumbria Association of Local Councils

The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme

Presentation of the Quality Council certificate to
Distington Parish Council on 8 October 2007

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.

A Quality Council:

  • is representative of, and actively engages, all parts of its community
  • provides vision, identity and a sense of belonging
  • is effectively and properly managed
  • articulates the needs and wishes of its community
  • is committed to work in partnership with principal authorities and other public service agencies
  • in proportion to size and skills, delivers local services on behalf of principal authorities when this represents the best deal for the local community
  • works closely with voluntary gooups in its community
  • gives leadership to work by the community on town and village plans
  • working with its partners, acts as an information point for local services

The Quality Criteria

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:

  • Electoral Mandate
  • Qualifications of the Clerk
  • Council Meetings
  • Communications & Community Engagement
  • Annual Report
  • Accountability
  • Code of Conduct
  • Promoting Local Democracy & Citizenship
  • Terms and Conditions of the Clerk
  • Training

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.

PDF Guide to Becoming a Quality Council - 488 Kb
Word Quality Council Checklist - 221 Kb
Word Guidance Notes on Training - 112 Kb
Word Guidance Notes on Democracy & Citizenship - 113 Kb
Word Guidance Notes on Communication & Engagement - 94 Kb

The Accreditation Process

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.

Benefits of the Quality Scheme

Quality Councils can play an enhanced role in their communities and in partnership with the Principal Authorities, ie the County and District Councils:

  • as an integral part of all relevant consultation and co-ordination arrangements set up by Principal Authorities and other service providers on how services are delivered in the parish council area
  • to manage and deliver services which parish councils may carry out either on behalf of the Principal Authority, or by using their existing powers
  • working with partners on the provision of access points to information on services of Principal Authorities and other service providers.

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.

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