Localism Strategy

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Foreword

I am pleased to introduce our Localism Strategy, which sets out how we will take forward our commitment to the principles of localism.

This is a fantastic opportunity to bring services closer to communities and can give real purpose to the work of town and parish councillors.

We want to share our thinking and engage in an ongoing conversation with organisations and partners about how together we can continue making localism work in Wyre Forest.

Over the last five years, we have been actively working with town and parish councils and other local organisations to develop ways in which we can support them to take ownership of assets or services and we are very proud of what has been achieved so far but we want to take this further.

We are committed to a ‘can-do’ approach. As demands on local government continue to grow, Government funding to Wyre Forest District Council has unfortunately been reducing. Through the localism agenda we hope to enhance the Council’s financial resilience, safeguarding services and facilities that are vital and beneficial to the community.

Without working closely with our town and parish councils and other local organisations we are unlikely to be able to do this.

Councillor Helen Dyke, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Community Protection

Local context 

Wyre Forest is a district in the north of the county of Worcestershire. The district has a population of over 100,000 and consists of three towns and large areas of rural countryside. 

Kidderminster is the largest of the three towns with a population of over 55,000 residents. Stourport-on-Severn is located on the confluence of the rivers Severn and Stour. It has a population of around 20,000. Bewdley has a population of around 10,000 and is located on the western bank of the River Severn. 

The district has three Town Councils – Bewdley, Kidderminster and Stourport-onSevern and nine parish councils – Broome, Chaddesley Corbett, Churchill and Blakedown, Kidderminster Foreign, Rock, Rushock, Stone, Upper Arley and Woverley and Cookley. 

The Town and Parish Councils can raise money locally through an annual precept to provide services in their local community.

There are legal limits on the services local councils can deliver but those with the General Power of Competence have more flexibility. 

Appendix One: The Discretionary Powers of Parish and Town Councils. 

Local delivery of services in Wyre Forest 

Communities across Wyre Forest have different needs. It is important that services, particularly community based services, should be delivered based on local need, by town or parish councils or other organisations suited to local delivery. 

As budget pressures grow, funding for community based services will reduce or even end. We need to ensure, where appropriate, that each asset and service is transferred to the town council, parish council or other appropriate organisation that can act as the best long term guardian. Our Localism Strategy offers these organisations the opportunity to take on services so they can continue for the benefit of the community. Often these organisations can deliver local services more efficiently and economically than we can. 

Wherever possible, our preferred option is that assets and services are transferred and that the identified organisation takes on full responsibility for managing and delivering those assets and services. However, we would still consider transferring assets on a partial transfer basis, such as leasehold. 

Over the last five years we have encouraged town and parish councils and other local organisations to work in partnership with us. As a result we have already transferred a number of assets and services to town and parish councils and other appropriate organisations. See Appendix Two.  

How will we achieve this? 

  • Putting robust processes in place to implement the Localism Act 2011. 
  • Building on existing work with town and parish councils and other local organisations.  
  • Taking the existing agreements with town and parish councils even further. 
  • Sharing best practice and celebrating success.  

How will we know if we have been successful? 

  • The assets and services continue on a financially viable footing
  • There is more local control over assets and services
  • The District Council’s base budget for service delivery will be lower and savings achieved. 
  • The local impact of service reductions will be minimised, savings targets will be achieved and services will continue, tailored to meet local needs and resources. 

How will we deliver the Localism Strategy? 

Everyone at Wyre Forest District Council has a part to play in delivering localism. This includes Members, portfolio holders and officers. Officers will work closely with the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Community Protection, who is the lead for the Localism agenda, including asset transfers and relations with town and parish councils.


Financial Support

We are prepared to provide financial support to town, parish councils and other local organisations to enable assets and services to be transferred to them. These include, but are not limited to maintaining open spaces, play areas, litter picking, bin emptying and taking responsibility for facilities. We strongly support transfer where any ongoing cost to Wyre Forest District Council will be significantly lower as a result.

Through our Localism Fund we will support the transfer of assets and services. We are open and willing to discuss with town, parish councils and other local organisations incentivising and pump priming initiatives to facilitate the efficient transfer of assets and services.

Town and parish councils are encouraged to levy precepts to support the transfer of
assets and services.


Community Grants Fund

The Localism Fund also has a separate community grants fund, which is open to community groups and local organisations through an application process. Find out more about the Community Grants Fund.

Principles of asset and service transfers

We recognise that town and parish councils across the district are keen to develop their activities and deliver more local services. This is their opportunity to play an even more significant role in their local community.

Wyre Forest District Council will respond to the priorities and ambitions of the local area and not impose anything from the top down. If a town or parish council does not want to take on any assets or services then it will not be compelled to. However it must be recognised that services could be reduced or stopped if an alternative model of delivery cannot be implemented.

These principles also apply to other sorts of local organisations who are interested in
the transfer of assets and services and are in a position to take them on.

We intend to adhere to the following broad principles when negotiating the transfer of assets and services.

  1. A town or parish council or other appropriate organisation proposing a transfer of asset and services must have been in existence and functioning effectively for at least a year (this means that they are engaging widely in the community, managing their finances well and being inclusive and open in their approach).
  2. Assets and services considered for a transfer must be things that a town, parish council or another organisation can legally provide.
  3. We will consider all requests received and will give reasons if there are any assets or services which we do not consider appropriate for transfer.
  4. Proposals can include joint service delivery and management arrangements as well as a full transfer of services. They can be made by a collaboration of more than one town or parish council or other local organisations.
  5. Services considered for a transfer of management must be capable of being delivered at the scale proposed, either through the town or parish council or other organisation’s own resources or through a management arrangement with us.
  6. Proposals should demonstrate that the service will be provided at broadly the same or better standard than previously provided by us.
  7. The town or parish council or other local organisation will have to demonstrate a sound business case for all proposals, including the management and other resources that will be put in place to demonstrate the capacity to manage the asset independently and to put the asset to good use for the community.


The process for agreeing a local asset and service transfer deal

We will identify a single point of contact who will work with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Community Protection. All relevant Cabinet Members will be consulted during negotiation of a deal and all final deals will be signed off by the Cabinet.


Suggested methods to deal with Section 106 contributions

Public open space, outdoor amenity space and children’s play space 

It is the intention that all Section 106 contributions for public open space, outdoor amenity space and children’s play space derived from developments within the boundaries of Bewdley, Kidderminster and Stourport-on-Severn would be passed to the relevant town council.

If the proposed use of a contribution needed to be decided before planning permission was granted, it would be decided by the town council as part of negotiations with the developer on the application; in any other case, the town council would have full discretion about how such section 106 contributions would be used.

This would come into effect for all planning permissions granted with effect from 1 April 2020, subject to services being transferred or in the process of being transferred to the respective town council.

Community Facilities

It is the intention that all Section 106 contributions for community facilities derived from developments within the boundaries of Bewdley, Kidderminster and Stourport-on-Severn
would be passed to the town council. 

If the proposed use of a contribution needed to be decided before planning permission was granted, it would be decided by the town council as part of negotiations with the developer on the application; in any other case, the town council would have full discretion about how such Section 106 contributions would be used.

This would come into effect for all planning permissions granted with effect from 1 April 2020, subject to services being transferred or in the process of being transferred to the respective town council.

Risk 

It is recognised that the process of transferring assets or services to third parties is not without risk. The level of competence, financial stability and sustainability of third party organisations are key factors in any negotiations. It is also the case that the process can take time especially in building trust between us and interested parties. 

List of Assets and Services

We are prepared to discuss the transfer of any of our assets and services. However, there is a preferred list of assets and services that will be considered for transfer. 



Appendices

Appendix One: The Discretionary Powers of Parish and Town Councils 

The powers which have been vested in Parish, Town and Community Councils by Acts of Parliament are summarised below as a guide. Each description is brief and is intended to be a general indication. It is not a complete list of every single power and duty. It also provides details of the regulations under which statutory provisions are made. Where a function is marked with an asterisk (*) a Council also has the power to give financial assistance to another person or body performing the same function.

 Function

Powers and Duties

Statutory Provision 

Accounts

Duty to appoint a Responsible Financial Officer to manage the Councils’ accounts

Local Government Act 1972, section 151

Acceptance of office

Duty to sign Declaration Of Acceptance Of Office (Councillors and Chairman)

Local Government Act 1972, section 83

Agency arrangements

Power to arrange for the discharge of functions by another local authority

Local Government Act 1972, section 101

Allotments

Power to provide allotments and duty to provide allotment gardens if demand exists

Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, subsections 23, 26 and 42

Baths and washhouses

Power to provide public baths and washhouses (i.e. launderettes)

Public Health Act 1936, subsections 221, 222, 223 and 227

Borrowing

Power to borrow money for statutory functions

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 13

Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria *

Power to acquire and maintain

Open Spaces Act 1906, subsections 9 and 10

Power to provide

Local Government Act 1972, section 214

Power to agree to maintain memorials and monuments

Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, section 1

Power to contribute to expenses of maintaining cemeteries

Local Government Act 1972, section 214(6)

Bus shelters *

Power to provide and maintain bus shelters

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, section 4

Bus services

Power to make grants of money (though not of a capital nature) for bus service appearing to be for the benefit of people living in the Council’s area or community bus service (mini buses run on non-profit basis and catering for social and welfare needs of one or more communities)

Local Government and Rating Act 1997

Byelaws

Power to make byelaws for public walks and pleasure grounds

Public Health Act 1875, section 164

Power to make byelaws for cycle parks

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 57(7)

Power to make byelaws for baths and washhouses

Public Health Act, 1936, section 233

Power to make byelaws for open spaces and burial grounds

Open Spaces Act, 1906, section 15

Car sharing scheme

Power to establish and maintain, or to assist others, in car-sharing scheme for the benefit of persons in Council’s area.  Scheme whereby private cars are made available for use on journeys where one or more passengers may be carried at separate fares

Local Government and Rating Act 1997

Chairman’s Allowance

Power to pay the Chairman reasonable allowance

Local Government Act 1972 sections 15(5) and 35(5)

Charities

Power to appoint trustees of parochial charities

Charities Act 1993, section 79

Christmas lights

Power to provide to attract visitors

Local Government Act 1972, section 144

Citizens Advice Bureau

Power to support

Local Government Act 1972, section 142

Clocks *

Power to provide public clocks

Parish Councils Act 1957, section 2

Closed churchyards

Power (and sometimes duty) to maintain

Local Government Act 1972, section 215

Commons and common pastures

Powers in relation to enclosure, regulation and management, and providing common pasture

Enclosure Act 1845; Local Government Act 1894, section 8(4); Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, section 34

Community centres

Power to provide and equip community buildings

Local Government Act 1972, section 133

Power to provide buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 19

Conference Facilities *

Power to provide and encourage the use conference facilities

Local Government Act 1997, section 144

Consultation

Right to be consulted by Principal Councils if directed by Secretary of State (England) or by Welsh Assembly (Wales)

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, section 21; Local Government Act 1972, section 33A

Councillors’ Allowances

Power to pay allowances and travelling and subsistence to elected members

The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003

Crime prevention *

Power to spend money on various crime prevention measures.  May make grants of money to police authorities

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, section 31

Drainage

Power to deal with ditches and ponds

Public Health Act 1936, section 260

Entertainment and the Arts*

Power to provide entertainment and support for the arts including festivals and celebrations

Local Government Act 1972, section 145

Flagpoles

Power to erect flagpoles in the highways

Highways Act 1980, section 144

Free Resource

Power to incur expenditure not otherwise authorised on anything which in the council’s opinion is in the interests of the area or part of it or all or some of the inhabitants

Local Government Act 1972, section 137

Gifts

Power to accept gifts

Local Government Act 1972, section 139

Highways

Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridleways

Highways Act 1980, subsections 43 and 50

Power to light roads and public places

Parish Councils Act 1957, section 3; Highways Act 1980, section 301

Power to provide parking places for motor vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, sections 57 and 63

Highways

Power to make a dedication agreement for a new highway or widening of an existing highway

Highways Act 1980, subsections 30 and 72

Consent of Parish Council required (right to veto application to Magistrates Court) for ending maintenance of highway at public expenses, to stop up, divert or cease to maintain a public highway

Highways Act 1980, subsections 47 and 116

Power to complain to a local highway authority that a highway is unlawfully stopped up or obstructed

Highways Act 1908, section 130

Power to plant trees etc. and maintain roadside verges

Highways Act 1980, section 96

Power to prosecute for unlawful ploughing of a footpath or bridleway

Highways Act 1980, section 134

Power to provide traffic signs and other notices

Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, section 72

Power to provide litter bins on the highway and public places *

Litter Act 1983, subsections 5 and 6

Power to provide seats and shelters on the highway and public places *

Parish Councils Act 1957 S1

Interests

Duty to declare an interest

Local Government Act 1972, section 94

Investments

Power to participate in schemes of collective investment

Trustee Act 1961, section 11

Land

Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of land

Local Government Act 1972, subsections 124, 126 and 127

Power to acquire land by compulsory purchase

Local Government Act 1972, section 125

Power to accept gifts of land

Local Government Act 1972, section 139

Power to obtain particulars of persons interested in land

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 16

Lotteries

Power to promote lotteries

Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, section 7

Meetings

Duty to hold annual parish meeting

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 23

Duty to hold annual parish council meeting

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 7

Power to convene a parish meeting

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 14

Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms

Power to provide mortuaries and post-mortem rooms

Public Health Act 1936, section 198

Newsletters

Power to provide information relating to matters affecting local government

Local Government Act 1972, section 142

Nuisances *

Power to deal with offensive ponds, ditches and gutters

Public Health Act 1936, section 260

Open Spaces

Power to acquire and maintain open spaces

Public Health Act 1875, section 164; Open Spaces Act 1906, subsections 9, 10

Parish documents and property

Power to give directions as to custody of parish documents

Local Government Act 1972, section 226

Parks and pleasure grounds

Power to acquire land or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them

Public Health Act 1875, section 164; Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 14 paragraph 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 section 44

Public buildings and village halls

Power to prosecute or defend or appear in any legal proceedings.  May institute civil proceedings in Parish Council name.  May represent the community at public enquiries

Local Government Act 1972, section 222

Public buildings and village halls *

Power to provide buildings for offices and for public meetings and assemblies

Local Government Act 1972, section 133

Public conveniences

Power to provide public conveniences

Public Health Act 1936, section 87

Public inspection of documents

Duty to provide the public the right to inspect certain documents

Local Government Act 1972, section 228

Publicity

Power to provide information about matters affecting local government

Local Government Act 1972, section 142

Records

Power to collect, exhibit and purchase local records

Local Government (Records) Act 1962, subsections 1 and 2

Recreation *

Power to acquire land for, or to provide recreational facilities including recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them

Public Health Act 1875 S164; Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 14 Para 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 section 44; Open Spaces Act 1906 sections 9 and 10

Power to provide gymnasiums, playing fields and holiday camps

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 19

Power to provide boating pools

Public Health Act 1961, section 54

Staff

Power to appoint staff under reasonable terms and conditions

Local Government Act 1972, section 112

Subscriptions

Power to subscribe to Local Government associations

Local Government Act 1972, section 143

Town and Country planning

Right to be notified of planning applications

Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Schedule 1 paragraph 8

Tourism *

Power to contribute to encouragement of tourism

Local Government Act 1972, section 144

Traffic calming

Power to contribute to the cost of traffic calming measures

Highways Act 1980, section 274A

Transport*

Power to (a) establish car-sharing schemes; (b) make grants for bus services; (c) provide taxi-fare concessions; (d) investigate public transport, road use needs; (e) provide information about public transport services

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, section 26, Transport Act 1985, section 106A

Village signs

Power to make and erect decorative signs to inform visitors

Local Government Act 1972, section 144

Village greens *

Power to maintain, to make byelaws for and to prosecute for interference with village greens

Open Spaces Act 1906, section 15; Enclosure Act 1857, section 12; Commons Act 1876, section 29

War memorials

Power to maintain, repair and protect war memorials

War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923, section 1 as extended by Local Government Act 1948, section 133

Water supply

Power to utilise any well, spring or stream to provide facilities for obtaining water from them

Public Health Act 1936, section 125

Appendix Two: Assets and services already undertaken by or transferred to a town or  parish council or other local or third party organisation

Organisation

Asset / Service

Type of Arrangement

Bewdley Parish Council

Operation of Load Street toilets

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Broome Parish Council

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Chaddesley Corbett Parish Council

Bin emptying and litter picking

 Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Churchill and Blakedown Parish Council

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Grass cutting

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Land at the Avenue

Freehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Friends of Riverside North Park

Paddling pool in Riverside North Park, Bewdley

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Kidderminster Carolians

Sports pitches at White Wickets

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Kidderminster Foreign Parish Council 

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Kidderminster Town Council

Allotments at Wilton Avenue, Kidderminster

Freehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Allotments at Dowles Road

Allotments at Aggborough Crescent

Allotments at Offmore Lane

Allotments at Dunclent Crescent,

Allotments at Goldthorne Road

Allotments at Greatfield Road

Land adjacent to St Mary’s Church

Public Conveniences at Market Street

Kidderminster Town Hall

Lickhill Pre-School Nursery Voluntary Management Committee

Community Centre at Stourport Memorial Park

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

PFPL

Wyre Forest Leisure Centre

Leasehold

Managed on behalf of WFDC

Rock Parish Council

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Far Forest Play Area

Freehold transfer

Stourport-on-Severn Town Council

Civic Centre and Civic Hall

Freehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Paddling pool at Stourport Riverside

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Trustees of Wolverley Playing Fields Association

Mill Lane Playing Fields

Freehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

21st Wyre Forest Scouts

Sons of Rest building and garage at Brinton Park

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Twigs

Garden nursery at Brinton Park

Leasehold transfer

Upper Arley Parish Council

Operation of Frenchmen’s Street toilets

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Grass cutting

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

WFA Sports Facilities Limited

Sports pitches at White Wickets

Leasehold transfer

Community Asset Transfer

Sports pitches at Habberley Road

Sports ground at Brown Westhead Park

Sports pitches at Springfield Park

Wolverley & Cookley Parish Council

Bin emptying and litter picking

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Grass cutting

Operating service on behalf of WFDC

Allotments at Lowe Lane

Leasehold transfer 

Community Asset Transfer

Appendix Three: Preferred list of assets and services that will be considered for transfer or WFDC services that town or parish councils may choose to enhance

Geographical Area

Type

Asset  / Service Area

Bewdley

WFDC service

Events:

Greener Living Fair

Flag Flying (District wide)

No Barriers (District wide)

WFDC service

Summer activities

Civic building

Guildhall

Museum

Bewdley Museum

Parks

 

QE II Gardens

Riverside North

Garden of Rest

Public open space

Riverside North

Derwent Drive

Lingfield Road

Hacketts Meadow

Toilets

Load Street toilets

Nature Reserves

Rifle Range (part)

Play / sports facility

MUGA, Bewdley Leisure Centre

Kidderminster

 

WFDC service

Community Safety Project Officers

WFDC service

Arts and Play Development Officer

WFDC service

Events:

Showcase of Services for Older People

Volunteer and Skills Fair

Outdoor Cinema at Brinton Park

Bands in the Park

Flag Flying (District wide)

No Barriers (District wide)

WFDC service

Summer activities

Public toilets

 

Brinton Park toilets

Broadwaters toilets

Play areas in other open spaces managed by WFDC

Forester Way

Heronswood Road

King George V, Marlpool Lane

Willowfield Drive

Jerusalem Walk (teen zone)

Clensmore (natural play area)

Public open space

Bewdley Hill Woods

Coronation Gardens

Pineridge Drive

Parks

Baxter Gardens

Brinton Park

Broadwaters

Springfield Park

St George’s Park

White Wickets

Land and car park

Land and car park at Warbler Place (rear of school)

Cemetery

Kidderminster Cemetery

Kidderminster

Nature Reserves

Blakemarsh

Burlish Top (part)

Falling Sands

Hurcott Pool and Woods

Puxton Marsh

Rifle Range (part)

Spennells Valley

Stourvale

Vicarage Heath

Kidderminster Foreign

Nature Reserves

Habberley Valley

Stourport on Severn

WFDC service

Events:

Volunteer and Skills Fair

Country and Western

Rock and Roll

Play Day

Bands in the Park

Flag Flying (District wide)

No Barriers (District wide)

WFDC service

Summer activities

Toilets

Riverside Meadows toilets

Play areas in other open spaces managed by WFDC

Britannia Gardens

Public open space

Riverside Meadows

Lloyds Meadow

Walshes Meadow

Building

Freehold community centre at Stourport Memorial Park

Nature Reserves

Burlish Top

Riverside Conversation Area (off Britannia Gardens)

Redstone Marsh

Half Crown Wood

Moor Hall Marsh

Play / sports facility

MUGA, Areley Kings

War Memorial

St Michael’s War Memorial

Upper Arley

Toilets

Frenchmen’s Street, Upper Arley toilets

Wolverley and Cookley

Allotments

Allotments, Lionfields Road, Cookley (freehold)

Public Space

Woodland at Lea Lane, Cookley

Land

Land at Drakelow Lane