To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the outcome was of his visit to Sevenoaks Town Council on 22 June 2013 was; what assessment he has made of the calls from the National Association of Local Councils for further reform of business rates to assist town and parish councils in supporting local economic growth; and if he will make a statement.
The Government recognises the valuable role played by parish and town councils in helping to foster vibrant local communities. While we do not propose to change the standard funding arrangements for such councils, and funding will continue to be delivered through a precept, we have introduced measures through the Localism Act which can significantly empower parish and town councils, increasing their role and capability in supporting local economic growth.
Parish and town councils take the lead in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan, which provides them and their communities with a much greater say in local strategic planning matters. Local authorities who have adopted the Community Infrastructure Levy are required to pass 25% of levy receipts from local development to parish or town councils if a Neighbourhood Plan is in place. For areas without a Plan it will be a still highly significant 15% of levy funds.
Parish and town councils, in consultation with their communities, can spend the levy funds on any infrastructure and associated services they want, to support the development of the area.
Sevenoaks town council is currently in the early stages of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and has received Government assistance to aid the process.