A Charter between Denbighshire's City, Town and Community Councils and Denbighshire County Council (September 2020)

  1. Introduction
  2. Mutual acknowledgement
  3. Information and communication
  4. Consultation and engagement
  5. Partnership and joint working
  6. Practical support and training
  7. Local Governance and Elections
  8. Ethics and Standards
  9. Implementation, monitoring and review

Appendix A: Powers and Duties City, Town and Community Councils can enact

The following Councils have cordially adopted this Charter as a mutual agreement between the two tiers of Government within Denbighshire:

  • Aberwheeler Community Council
  • Betws Gwerfil Goch Community Council
  • Bodfari Community Council
  • Bryneglwys Community Council
  • Cefn Meiriadog Community Council
  • Clocaenog Community Council
  • Corwen Town Council
  • Cyffylliog Community Council
  • Cynwyd Community Council
  • Denbigh Town Council
  • Derwen Community Council
  • Dyserth Community Council
  • Efenechtyd Community Council
  • Gwyddelwern Community Council
  • Henllan Community Council
  • Llanarmon yn Ial Community Council
  • Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd Community Council
  • Llandegla Community Council
  • Llandrillo Community Council
  • Llanelidan Community Council
  • Llandyrnog Community Council
  • Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd Community Council
  • Llanferres Community Council
  • Llangollen Town Council
  • Llangynhafal Community Council
  • Llanrhaeadr Community Council
  • Llantysilio Community Council
  • Llanynys Community Council
  • Nantglyn Community Council
  • Prestatyn Town Council
  • Rhuddlan Town Council
  • Rhyl Town Council
  • Ruthin Town Council
  • St. Asaph City Council
  • Tremeirchion, Cwm and Waen Community Council; and
  • Denbighshire County Council.

1. Introduction

1.1. City, Town and Community Councils (C,T&CCs) and Denbighshire County Council (DCC) have an important role to play in the local government system. They are the most local level of government and can influence decisions that affect the local area and help bring life to their communities.

1.2. More than ever, it is important that both DCC and C,T&CCs within Denbighshire continue to work closely together in partnership for the benefit of local residents. This document relates equally to Councillors and Council Officers.

1.3. This Charter represents a mutual agreement between the two tiers of local government. It sets out how we aim to work together to develop and promote local needs and aspirations for the benefit of local communities, whilst recognising our respective responsibilities as autonomous, democratically elected statutory bodies.

1.4. This document is also designed to build on existing good practice and embrace the shared principles of openness, respect and our common priority of putting residents at the centre of service delivery.

2. Mutual Acknowledgement

2.1. We aim to work together as a partnership of equals rather than tiers. Successful partnership working at the community level can only be achieved if the partners – DCC and the C,T&CCs – understand and respect each other's roles, and work to complement those roles in serving the community.

2.2. DCC recognises that C,T&CCs:

2.2.1. Are a vital part of democratic local government, representing communities at the most local level;

2.2.2. Are an important primary source of information about community aspirations and opinions;

2.2.3. Are to be respected, treated equally and recognised as diverse in their size and in the resources available to them;

2.2.4. Are affected by the financial and political decisions of other tiers of government and often have to work within certain constraints when fulfilling their responsibilities.

2.3. C,T&CCs recognise that DCC:

2.3.1. Represents the interests of local communities at the County level;

2.3.2. Has to take into account community interests wider than the City, Town and/or Community;

2.3.3. Has duties to: the people who use its services; the communities in which it works; the general public and funding bodies that support its work; its members; the regulatory bodies that oversee its activities, and; its clearly defined structures to enable it to fulfil its obligations on accountability.

2.3.4. Is affected by the financial and political decisions of the Welsh Assembly and central government and often has to work within certain constraints when fulfilling its strategic role and responsibilities.

3. Information and Communication

3.1. Securing good communication and liaison between the County and C,T&CC is a cornerstone of this Charter and involves communication from the most strategic level right down to liaison on specific local projects.

3.2. DCC undertakes to:

3.2.1. An annual survey with the C,T&CC to discuss corporate aims and other matters of mutual concern;

3.2.2. Organise quarterly newsletter to share key messages from services/SLT

3.2.3. Provide correspondence and information where ever possible in the format requested by a C,T&CC, e.g. electronic, hard copies only produced upon request;

3.2.4. Provide links to C,T&CC websites on the Denbighshire website;

3.2.5. Promote and encourage the use of the C360 Customer Portal (online account) and Contact Centre, as effective and efficient channels for CT&CC to log information/service requests, report concerns and provide suggestions and feedback for improvements.

3.2.6. Act on common concerns logged using the C360 Customer Portal.

3.3. C,T&CCs endeavour to:

3.3.1. A City, Town or Community Councillor who communicates directly with the County Council clarifies in what capacity they are engaging with the County Council i.e. as an individual Councillor or on behalf of the Council with the knowledge of the Clerk.

3.3.2. Be represented at liaison meetings convened by DCC and actively suggest agenda items;

3.3.3. Provide the relevant county councillor(s) with copies of the Agendas, Minutes and papers of its meetings if requested to do so;

3.3.4. Always make effective use of IT and electronic communication methods available to C,T&CCs, particularly where this will increase efficiency and improve value for money,

3.3.5. Make full use of the DCC’s C360 Customer Portal (online account) and other online/electronic communication channels to log information/service requests, report concerns and provide suggestions and feedback for improvements

3.3.6. Be responsive to opportunities to join improvement working groups with DCC representatives to address service concerns;

3.3.7. Through their City, Town and Community Council Clerks, ensure their Councillors are kept informed of communications from DCC.

3.3.8. Promote and encourage the use of the C360 Customer Portal (online account) and Contact Centre, as effective and efficient channels for CT&CC to log information/service requests, report concerns and provide suggestions and feedback for improvements

4. Consultation and Engagement

4.1. Consultation and engagement are key components of open government and can lead to better informed policies and a more engaged public. This charter sets out a genuine commitment amongst all parties to consult on matters of mutual concern with clear, specific and time limited procedures for consultation and engagement.

4.2. DCC undertakes to:

4.2.1. Seek the participation of, and consult with, C,T&CC on Denbighshire policies that affect C,T&CC collectively or individually at the earliest appropriate stage;

4.2.2. Provide a minimum of eight weeks for consultation on significant DCC policies other than in cases where DCC is bound by other statutory requirements e.g. in the case of planning applications;

4.2.3. Discuss with C,T&CCs concerned at the earliest appropriate stage, any DCC promoted plan or scheme that affects a town or community specifically, including sale or dispersal of land or property within their communities, and invite C,T&CCs to attend any relevant public meetings and exhibitions;

4.2.4. Respect and properly consider C,T&CCs' views before making decisions;

4.2.5. At the discretion of the Head of Service, allow appropriate officers to attend C,T&CC meetings to explain and discuss policies and plans, especially when particularly contentious issues cannot be resolved in any other way;

4.2.6. Provide consultation documents bilingually as outlined in DCC's Welsh Language Standards;

4.2.7. Report back to C,T&CCs on the outcome of consultations, clearly highlighting any amendments that have or will be made, in addition to outlining in a transparent way the reasons for reaching that outcome or decision. e.g. in the case of a planning application that is involved in an amendment;

4.2.8. Ensure Services adopt a consistent and proactive approach to engagement and consultation with C,T&CC.

4.3. C,T&CCs endeavour to:

4.3.1. Respond positively where possible to invitations to attend consultative committees, working groups and meetings;

4.3.2. Respond within consultation deadlines set by DCC unless otherwise agreed with DCC;

4.3.3. Work with DCC to seek mutually acceptable solutions to contentious issues;

4.3.4. Respect the final democratic decision of DCC;

4.3.5. Engage and consult directly with their residents;

4.3.6. Have a proactive approach in working in consortium with surrounding City, Towns or/and Community Councils to seek views and consensus on area wide issues and opportunities;

4.3.7. Through their City, Town or Community Council Clerk, ensure decisions made by DCC on subjects that affect their localities are reported back to C,T&CC Members, including the reasons given for that decision by DCC staff, e.g. planning decisions

5. Partnership and Joint Working

5.1. It is recognised that effective partnerships have the potential to bring benefits to those involved. Any partnerships developed will also carry a corresponding shared responsibility. Local government at both tiers must work together to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of our areas and where possible assist in delivering key strategies e.g. the Corporate Plan. If doing things differently achieves a better service, we will seriously examine these methods.

5.2. DCC is committed in principle to the opportunity of service enhancement by C,T&CCs, whereby a C,T&CC makes a financial contribution to enhance the quality or quantity of a particular service, delivered in the local area by DCC.

5.3. DCC is also committed to devolving services to C,T&CC where mutually appropriate. Services should be delivered with regard to value for money and added value for local people.

5.4. It is fully recognised that for some services, it may not be practicable or desirable to undertake such enhancements or devolution of services.

5.5. DCC undertakes to:

5.5.1. Seek the participation of all C,T&CC in exploring opportunities for joint working;

5.5.2. Provide clear financial information and schedules of services to interested C,T&CC;

5.5.3. Acknowledge that when financial support is given by a C,T&CC, decisions are taken to deliver that service in consultation with the C,T&CC.

5.5.4. Explore, where ever possible, C,T&CCs greater involvement in the procurement and review of contracted services appointed at County level but which undertake work in their town. E.g. through completing performance questionnaires, sitting on the tender working groups and evaluation panels.

5.5.5. DCC is committed to engaging with C,T&CCs and support cooperation with C,T&CCs as they are best placed to advocate their community.

5.5.6. DCC will ensure that C,T&CCs are aware of support available for community groups and provide information to be shared.

5.6. C,T&CCs endeavour to:

5.6.1. Respond positively to invitations to participate in joint working and, where appropriate, budget accordingly through the Annual Precept;

5.6.2. Work together to ensure the community voice is heard through endorsement of opportunities for community participation e.g. Participatory Budgeting;

5.6.3. Be responsive to opportunities to have a greater involvement in the procurement process at County level for contracted services.

5.6.4. C,T&CC endeavour to identify gaps in community provision and refer to DCC.

5.6.5. C,T&CC to promote support available to community groups and sign post to officers and departments were appropriate.

6. Practical Support and Training

6.1. C,T&CCs rely, to varying degrees, on the professional support that can be provided by others. There are times when the assistance of the DCC can be particularly useful to a C,T&CC.

6.2. DCC undertakes to:

6.2.1. Offer C,T&CCs practical support, access to professional services, specialist knowledge and access to training events held by DCC at a mutually agreed price where appropriate and subject to agreement.

6.2.2. Familiarise their staff on the role, responsibilities and importance of C,T&CC;

6.2.3. Implement and adhere to a specific protocol in relation to planning matters;

6.2.4. Provide support and guidance on engagement and consultation activities, and where appropriate, other engagement resources

6.3. C,T&CCs endeavour to:

6.3.1. Participate, where appropriate and relevant, in training courses offered by the DCC;

6.3.2. Adhere to a specific protocol in relation to planning matters;

6.3.3. Be proactive in gaining and refreshing skills within a changing environment where the role of C,T&CC Clerk and Councillors are evolving e.g. in undertaking devolved activities.

7. Local Governance and Elections

7.1. Fair and open elections are the 'bedrock' of local democracy. We will ensure that elections are freely and fairly contested. Both C,T&CC and DCC will actively encourage local people to be involved in local democracy through putting themselves forward for election and participation in the electoral process.

7.2. The role of the County Councillor as a conduit between DCC and a City, Town or Community is critical to an effective relationship. A proactive relationship will be actively encouraged particularly for those County Councillors who are not 'twin - hatted' and do not sit on C,T&CC.

7.3. DCC undertakes to:

7.3.1. Involve C,T&CC in awareness raising / publicity to encourage nominations for candidacy at local elections;

7.3.2. Will help publicise forthcoming local elections on behalf of C,T&CC;

7.3.3. Actively encourage County Councillors to feed issues from C,T&CC to the Member Area Groups and other council forums and communicate information to the C,T&CC.

7.4. C,T&CCs endeavour to:

7.4.1. Actively encourage residents to become nominees for local elections and participate in the democratic process.

8. Ethics and Standards

8.1. It is important that all councils adhere to policy on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights.

9. Implementation, Monitoring and Review

9.1. For this Charter to be a living document with impact it must be applied and a conscious effort put into its implementation.

9.2. It is important that this document is maintained as an up-to-date statement of the partnership arrangements between DCC and Denbighshire's C,T&CCs.

9.3. Opportunities to discuss the contents of the Charter will be available at the Liaison meetings or survey. Any feedback received at these Liaison meetings and from DCC staff and Members will be discussed with C,T&CCs and amendments and/or additions will be made as necessary following full consultation.

Appendix A: Powers and Duties C,T&CCs can enact

The 'Good Councillors Guide for Town and Community Councils' has an indicative list of powers and activities, applicable to community and town councils. This is to help you appreciate the wide range of activities C,T&CCs have the legal power to get involved in, as covered by Acts of Parliament. It is a useful reference when you need to know if the City, Town or Community Council can act. Please note: The information source is published by Welsh Government and may not be totally comprehensive.

Good Councillors Guide for Town and Community Councils (PDF, 277KB) (external website)

Note: Powers And Duties Of Unitary County Council

There are many hundreds of powers DCC can enact as a unitary county council based in legislation and statute. Listing them in this document would not be efficient or effective. Instead, please visit the official online home of UK legislation (external website) to search easily for information on specific legislation and statute.