The Countdown to NALC – Ben Murray

We are heading closer and closer to the annual NALC Conference so in the lead-up, we will be running a series of interviews with past winners and current employees to see what they enjoy about the conference and what it means to them.

First we have Ben Murray, Policy and Projects Officer based in London and a key player in organising this years’ conference and Star Awards.

Hi Ben! Tell us about your role at NALC.

I work mostly on projects and campaigns for NALC and support in building partnerships with other organisations who can help town and parish councils improve.

I run a number of projects including the Diversity Commission, which is looking at how local councils can become more diverse and representative of the communities they serve.  Another is the NALC Lobby Day, which gets hundreds of local councils meeting their MPs annually to discuss national and local issues effecting their local council and the NALC Star Council Awards which celebrates the best achievements coming from the local council sector.

What is the role of NALC for local parishes and councils?

NALC is the only membership body for 10,000 town and parish councils in England. We lobby government on their behalf, give our local councils guidance, organise events, provide legal, accounting and audit advice, and raise the profile of local councils through national campaigns, media stories and our awards scheme.

What is the theme for this year’s conference and why was it chosen?

NALC’s annual conference is the only event to bring together the local council sector.

This year’s conference theme is all about ‘Shaping the Future’ for local councils and will be looking at the role of local councils in a post-Brexit Britain.

We will be asking government ministers, local government experts, councillors and clerks to contribute to our debate and tell us where they see local councils post-Brexit. We hope this forms a clear vision for the sector and will help us drive our long term plan and help us understand local councils’ ambitions.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?

There are too many to choose from this year! I am really excited to hear talks from Housing, Communities and Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP; Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne MP; LGA Chairman Lord Gary Porter; and Metro Mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer, who will all be discussing the future of local councils.

I am also really intrigued by some of the breakout sessions which will be looking at a number of topics including community organising, helping local councils diversify their funding incomes and our male, pale and stale workshop which will be looking at diversity in local councils. I am probably most looking forward to the NALC Star Councils Awards Ceremony which will be celebrating the best achievements from the local council sector. This year, we had the most entrants ever with 117 nominations. Really excited to see who wins this year!

Can you tell us more about the Star Council Awards and what it means to the Councillors? 

The NALC Star Council Awards celebrates the best achievements from the local council sector. There are 5 categories which include Young Councillor of the Year, County Association Project of the Year, Clerk of the Year, Councillor of the Year and Council of the Year. Year on year the competition grows and this year we have over 117 nominations spread across the 5 categories. The judges are currently shortlisting their favourites and will be announcing the winners at our awards dinner at the conference.

The awards are massive to our local councils. Last year, Halewood Town Council won council of the year and I visited them to hear more about what they were doing to benefit their community. During my visit, they unveiled their new trophy to hundreds of people as part of their own awards night to celebrate what young people in Halewood have been doing to make it a better place to live. It was a fantastic night and one that will live long in the memory for all involved.

What can we expect from NALC in 2019?

NALC has a number of big things planned for 2019 and they will all be kicked off by our Spring Conference on 11 February in London.

We will also be holding a number of events in Parliament, including our ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group’ (APPG) events which debate key issues effecting local councils; our annual Lobby Day which will be bringing together hundreds of local councils and MPs to discuss local and national issues effecting local councils and the NALC Star Councils Awards reception, which gives Star Council Winners the chance to celebrate their achievements with their local MPs.

We are also planning to make all of our campaigns even bigger and better this year and will be aiming to get more local councils created, more diverse candidates standing for election and get more legislative changes effecting local councils passed through parliament. 2018 has been a great year for local councils but we are expecting 2019 to be an even better one! Keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks Ben, we look forward to seeing you at the Conference!

If you are attending the NALC conference and want more information on the Insurance and Risk Management advice we provide, visit our stand at the NALC Conference on 30-31 October, where we will also be running a Cyber-crime workshop.

If you have any queries or want to know any more about us, contact us at enquiries@bhibcouncils.co.uk, or alternatively give us a call on 0330 013 036.