180.Part 4 of, and Schedule 5 to, the Act devolve power from central government to local government and communities, enabling principal councils (London boroughs, district councils or county councils in unitary county areas) to put in place appropriate arrangements for the governance of their areas at community level. Local people are also able to initiate a review of community governance by petitioning their principal council.
181.Parish councils and parish meetings will be able to change the style by which they are known. In this part all references to parish meetings are those where there is no parish council for that parish. Eligible parish councils will also be given a power to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.
Chapter 1: Parishes
Section 75: Parishes: alternative styles
182.This section amends the Local Government Act 1972 by inserting new provisions and making other amendments to existing sections.
183.Section 11A provides that new groups of parishes which are created by order under section 11(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 must use the same alternative style. A grouping containing a mixture of styles will not be permitted. The new style will be reflected in the name of the council and its meetings and also in the titles of trustees, chairman, vice-chairman and councillors.
184.Section 11B requires a de-grouping order to provide for the style of a parish to be preserved when it is de-grouped.
185.Section 12A allows a parish council or a parish meeting to resolve have a style.
186.Section 12B allows a common parish council of an existing group of parishes to change the style of the group.
187.Section 17A sets out the alternative styles. A parish will continue to be able to have the status of a town although it may not also have an alternative style.
Section 76: Appointed councillors
188.This section amends sections 15 and 16 of the Local Government Act 1972 to ensure chairman and vice-chairman of parish councils are chosen from among the elected councillors rather than those who have been appointed. The section also inserts a new section 16A into that Act.
189.Section 16A allows a parish council to appoint individuals to be councillors. The new section allows the Secretary of State to make provision in regulations about appointed councillors. It is expected that this power will be used to specify the kinds of individual who may be appointed as councillors - for example representatives of key community groups or young people. In exercising a function under or by virtue of this section, parish councils must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State about the exercise of that function.
Chapter 2: Power to Promote Well-Being
Section 77: Extension of power to certain parish councils
190.This section adds an eligible parish council to the list of bodies in Part 1 of the Local Government Act 2000 which have the power to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area. The Secretary of State has a power to prescribe by order the conditions which must be met by a parish council in order for it to be an eligible parish council for the purposes of this provision.
Section 78: Community strategies
191.Under the Local Government Act 2000, councils which have the power of well-being are also required to produce community strategies, to which they must have regard when using that power. This section exempts eligible parish councils from the need to produce their own community strategies. Instead it requires them to have regard to the strategies of the relevant principal authorities when exercising the power of well-being.
Chapter 3: Reorganisation
Key terms used
Section 79: Community governance reviews
192.This section defines a community governance review as a review of the whole or part of the area of a principal council for the purpose of making recommendations of the kind set out in sections 93 to 98. It requires the council to comply with the provisions in the Act relating to community governance reviews and with the terms of reference of the review.
193.In a two-tier area, a principal council must notify the county council that a community governance review is being conducted and of the terms of reference of the review including any modification of those terms.
Section 80: Community governance petitions
194.This section provides for local government electors to petition their principal council to conduct a community governance review.
195.To be valid, a community governance petition must meet the conditions in section 82 (3) to (6) as far as they are applicable. These include conditions about the number of local government electors who must sign the petition, the area that petitioners wish to see considered as part of a review and the specifying of recommendations which the petitioners wish a community governance review to consider making.
Section 81: Terms of reference of review
196.This section allows for a principal council to determine the terms of reference under which a community governance review must be undertaken and requires the terms of reference to specify the area under review. A principal council must publicise the terms of reference.