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Service Level Agreement

Aims and objectives

This agreement sets out the arrangements for the servicing, promotion and representation of member councils by Staffordshire Parish Councils Association (SPCA).

It also defines the working relationship between SPCA and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) in providing services to member councils.

The aim of the Association is to take all such steps as may be necessary or desirable in the interests of member councils consistent with the objectives of the National Association of Local Councils:

  1. to represent and promote the interests, the rights and functions of member councils
  2. to support member councils in the performance of their roles
  3. to give this support through provision of information, advice and training
  4. to promote a widespread and well-informed interest in good local government.

SPCA’s role is to represent the interests of local councils and to provide opportunities for local councils to express their views; it will not attempt to represent the interests of an individual council.

It is generally expected that both the county and national associations will comply with the terms of this agreement, however, owing to resource constraints, it is recognised that in some cases the targets set out will not always be met in the first instance. Nevertheless, we are committed to complying with the Agreement in full wherever possible on three key objectives:

  1. Ensuring the highest standards of service to member councils
  2. Effective promotion and representation of the town and parish council sector in Staffordshire
  3. Effective partnership with other bodies including principal councils, government agencies, VCS organisations and others, to deliver information and training in a variety of formats.

The Agreement recognises the distinct and complementary roles of the SPCA and the National Association of Local Councils.

Glossary of terms

Defined Terms Meaning

AGM – Annual General Meeting

SPCA, the Association, the County Association – Staffordshire Parish Councils Association

NALC, the National Association – National Association of Local Councils


Service provision

SPCA will:

  1. Provide a well-resourced office and trained staff able to address and support member councils. The normal “office” hours are 9 to 3 Mondays to Fridays. Support to member councils via telephone and primarily email.
  2. Provide guidance, information and support to member councils, through regular e-newsletters, its website and advisory services.
  3. Deliver legal and procedural advice in a variety of formats including publications and training on changing legislation affecting town and parish councils
  4. Provide a framework for consultation and develop suitable arrangements for the effective representation and promotion of local councils at the county, regional and national level.

The Association recognises the benefits of the use of email, its website and remote meetings, to provide a faster and more effective service and broad engagement with its membership.

Legal Service

  1. In the first instance, legal queries from member councils should be addressed to the County Association. We will provide a telephone and email service to give basic legal advice and interpretation.
    Queries should be sent by either the Clerk or the Chairman of the Council (or Chairman of a committee where relevant), and advice given shall be intended for the council as a whole, and not intended for individual use. Where other council members use the service, responses may be copied to the clerk/chairman for information.
  2. We will acknowledge receipt of queries within 2 working days. Whilst we make every effort to provide a quick response to all legal queries, member councils are encouraged to make the earliest possible contact to help avoid delays in meeting your response times.
  3. In the case of more complex queries, SPCA may consult NALC’s Legal Team. You will be asked to submit your query in writing with any supporting documents. Responses are normally returned to the County Association within 15 working days and forwarded to the member council within 2 working days. We will make every effort to forward responses on the same day.
  4. NALC Updates and legal briefings will be circulated to member councils as appropriate. Town and parish clerks are encouraged to circulate important information to their councillors.

Policy development and support

SPCA will:

  1. Consult with member councils as appropriate on issues of national concern and on government consultative documents by circulating papers and initiating discussions though its membership and committees.
  2. Take an active part in the development of county, regional and national policy, to represent the interests of town and parish councils in Staffordshire
  3. Take an active role in the lobbying of, and partnership with, principle authorities, other local government bodies, VCS organisations, partner stakeholders and other agencies, to enhance the role of town and parish councils and their ability to deliver services to their communities.

Employment support

SPCA will:

  1. Offer support and guidance on matters relating to the recruitment and employment of staff.
  2. Distribute national advice and guidance on employment issues
  3. Refer particular issues, where appropriate, for further advice, guidance and support

Finance Support

SPCA will:

  1. Provide member councils with local support and guidance on accounting and audit requirements.
  2. Distribute national advice and guidance
  3. Organise appropriate briefings and training

Borrowing approval Process

SPCA is the body responsible for the initial review and submission of Borrowing Approvals by town and parish councils.

SPCA will:

  1. Advise town and parish councils on the submission of loan sanction applications, providing the current criteria and implementation information is available to member councils.
  2. Check applications for compliance with government requirements
  3. Submit applications directly to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for approval.

Council development

SPCA will:

  1. Offer guidance and support to member councils to develop their role in the community
  2. Offer support and guidance on the implementation of the Local Council Awards Scheme
  3. Produce updates and publications to support member councils
  4. Organise and participate in development, briefing and training at county, regional and national level for the better delivery of information and training for member councils.

Planning support

SPCA will ensure that national information and guidance on planning matters is conveyed to member councils in accordance with that guidance and local knowledge.

Training development and support (Additional charges apply)

SPCA will:

  1. Organise a comprehensive programme of training provision for member councils including both staff and members.
  2. Deliver tailor-made training events to individual member councils to address local needs.
  3. Work with outside partners to develop training packages for delivery to town and parish councils.
  4. Provide comprehensive support to clerks undertaking the CiLCA qualification.

Attendance at National, Regional and County events

SPCA will ensure that, wherever possible, it is represented at all national, regional and county conferences, seminars and information events in order to represent the views of member councils and to inform member councils of the outcomes of such events.

The Association also undertakes to deliver similar briefings and seminars at county and/or regional level to ensure the full participation and involvement of member councils. These may be either physical or remote events.

SPCA is committed to representing member councils at NALC Conferences where appropriate, and for its appointed NALC representatives to attend the AGM.

The Association will, hold an AGM each year normally in September.

The event will deliver briefings, information and other activities designed to inform member councils.

SPCA will always endeavour to provide a correct and timely response to its members and welcomes comments from its members and suggestions on how it can improve its service.



Approved: Executive 26th September 2022

To be reviewed: By P&R – September 2024