Reforms to town and parish councils allow digital document distribution

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said that 40-year-old legislation is set to be altered in order to bring council operations up-to-date and allow agendas to be distributed electronically.

The current rules have been described as an outdated “budgetary burden” and “arcane”, but as of 31st January 2015 local and parish councils will be permitted to provide electronic copies of agendas and meeting papers.

Local government minister, Kris Hopkins, said: “We have been encouraging can-do councils to adapt to the digital age to modernise the services they deliver to local people and deliver savings.

“Modernisation in local government [means that] councils should be able to issue agendas electronically, whilst ensuring councillors continue to have access to hard copy papers if they wish.

This is a great opportunity for town halls to use modern digital communications to conduct business in the most efficient way possible and it will help reduce costs and provide better value for money for local taxpayers.”

The legislative alteration came as Bleadon Parish Council, Somerset, enacted the Sustainable Communities Act which allows for parish and town councils to determine central government policy for the benefit of local communities.

The change has been welcomed by the National Association for Local Councils (NALC), who described the previous law as “arcane” and said that reforms were “long overdue”.

Chair of NALC, Cllr Ken Browse, said: “NALC welcomes the Government’s announcement that allows parish and town councils to be able to send agendas electronically rather than in the post; ending a budgetary burden on councils and enabling them to benefit from 21st Century technology”.

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