Chief executive’s bulletin

6 April 2023

Emergency alert system and test on 23 April 

The Cabinet Office has launched a new system that will give the Government and emergency services the capability to send an alert directly to mobile phones when there is a risk to life. A UK-wide alerts test will take place at 15.00 on Sunday 23 April which will see people receive a test message on their mobile phones. The Emergency Alerts system will allow the government to get urgent messages quickly to nearly 90 per cent of mobile phones in a defined area. The system is now ready to be tested across the country following successful tests in East Suffolk and Reading. The alerts will only ever come from the Government or emergency services, and they will issue a warning, the details of the area impacted, and instructions about how best to respond. The Government has produced a toolkit to help councils communicate key messages as part of the Emergency Alerts campaign. This includes some key messages for motorists which may be useful, particularly given some concerns raised in the media by motoring organisations this week. An FAQ document has also been created. Although the Government is strongly recommending that people do not opt out of the service, there are concerns about vulnerable groups and especially those experiencing domestic abuse. There is information on how to opt out in the FAQs, and Refuge has produced a video on how to do this.

Pre-election period guidance reminder 

For those councils with elections this May, the pre-election period, previously known as ‘purdah’, has commenced. This is a period when councils have some restrictions placed on them in relation to their activities and communications. The Local Government Association produces pre-election period guidance that I would encourage all councils to read.

On the blog: ten top tips to improve communications in 2023 

As local councils are the closest level of government to their communities, it is essential councils communicate effectively and strategically. With the increasing reliance on technology and social media, coupled with the fact that councils are providing more services than ever, effective communication is essential in supporting effective governance. On the NALC blog this week, Daniel Purchese from NALC’s partners Breakthrough Communications shares ten top tips to help local councils improve communication with their communities over the coming year, do check it out.

Fortnightly meeting with county officers 

At this week’s meeting between county associations and NALC, there was a briefing from NALC’s HR partner Worknest. We discussed the updated version of the Good Councillor’s Guide to Being a Good Employer which is currently in its final stages of being updated. This guide will cover both legislation and good practice. We also covered performance management including regular supervision and managing concerns, and a range of other general HR queries.

Survey on councillors with non-visible disabilities 

The clerk to Pucklechurch Parish Council is conducting a survey on councillors with non-visible disabilities as part of a dissertation for the Community Engagement and Governance course. This research is of obvious interest to us given the link to our Make a Change campaign which aims to encourage more people to become councillors and increase diversity. The dissertation is titled ‘Diverse voices? Are local councils in England and Wales attracting councillors with non-visible disabilities?’, and if you have a few spare minutes please complete the survey here. The survey is split for respondents who are clerks/officers and councillors, but collects the same data just from the two different perspectives.

Last few places for NALC study visit 2023 

There are still a few places available on the NALC study visit 2023 to Newport Pagnell Town Council on 27/28 June 2023. On this study tour, you will learn more about the council’s devolved leisure services, how it manages its broader portfolio, and its challenges. You will also get exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Newport Pagnell Town Council, meet councillors and officers, and visit essential sites. You can see the full itinerary and book a place by clicking on the event page on the NALC website.

NALC National Assembly 

NALC’s National Assembly, which comprises councillor representatives from each of the 43 county associations, held its latest meeting online this week. Ahead of the draft minutes being available, here are a few highlights:

  • Councillors welcomed the special additional meeting held in January which was convened to discuss the King’s Coronation and noted that since then NALC had secured clarification on a range of issues and questions raised, these were being shared more widely through the creation of a dedicated Coronation webpage.
  • National Assembly received an update on the sale of NALC’s office building at 109 Great Russell Street in London and the move to alternative office space, both of which had been reported to the Management Board and Finance and Scrutiny Committee. Following an extensive discussion, it was agreed that a draft plan setting out how the realised proceeds of the sale would be used and invested and our future accommodation strategy, be further considered.
  • A series of break out groups discussed how to get more people involved in the work of county associations and NALC and a more detailed summary will be available shortly.
  • Other items included an update from committee chairs on their work over the last quarter (which we also report regularly including through this bulletin and the minutes of committee meetings) and an agreement for the meeting in July to be in person and the December meeting to be moved to 29 November to be on the same day as NALC’s parliamentary reception which will incorporate the presentation of the NALC Star Council Awards 2023.

And finally… 

It’s a shorter week as we can all enjoy a long Easter weekend. Fingers crossed the April showers will pass and we have a few days of Spring-like weather. Happy Easter to everyone! Ramadan Mubarak to everyone welcoming in the month of Ramadan. And Passover also began this week, Chag Pesach Sameach to everyone in the Jewish community.



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