Local government parliamentary under secretary Chris Leslie told delegates assembled in Preston at the weekend: 'Change is inevitable for community, parish and town councils, if they are going to deliver services for their local community. If local councils are going to be representatives of their local community, they need to be seen as such.'
Liberal Democrat local government spokesman Don Foster said that his party wants the whole of England and Wales to be parished. This is the first time in the party's history that such a call has been announced.
NALC chief executive John Findlay said: 'These are critical times for community, parish and town councils. Critical because they offer an unprecedented opportunity for our future development. We can strengthen our role as the voice of our communities. Also we can enhance our role in regenerating social and economic development.'
The National Association of Local Councils is the national representative body for 10,000 town, parish and community councils throughout England and Wales. In all, there are over 80,000 town, parish and community councillors throughout England and Wales. These councillors, who serve electorates ranging from small rural communities to major towns, are all independently elected. The councils have powers to raise their own funds through council tax. Town, parish and community councils provide employment for over 25,000 staff while their annual expenditure exceeds£200m.
Together, they can be identified as the nation's single most influential grouping of grassroots opinion-formers.