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We are a cross-party, member-led network, providing a single voice for our member councils

Time to celebrate 50 years of being close to our communities

Published: 28 March 2024

Easter Monday is the fiftieth anniversary of the most localised principal tier of England’s local government landscape.

The 164 district councils have been running the most visible local government services – including driving our local economies and planning, waste collection, housing, homelessness prevention, welfare, parks, leisure centres and regeneration – since 1 April 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1972 which shook up council boundaries nationwide.

To commemorate the anniversary, the District Councils’ Network has launched the first in a series of videos showing our member councils’ innovation in response to the specific challenges their local area faces.

The first film shows Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s work to drive forward a new garden town of up to 10,000 new homes on the site of a disused racecourse.

The Otterpool Park development will feature seven schools and several health centres and it aims to boost biodiversity, with 50% of land remaining accessible. The development is due to be served by an upgraded station.

You can see the film by clicking here.

Further films will be added in the coming months to build up a library showcasing the work of district councils.

Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said: “Over the past half-century district councils have proved their value to their local communities. Our status as the most localised principal authorities gives us a unique advantage as place leaders and local convenors. We are the ‘local’ in local government.

“We make our places more prosperous, support people when they need it and strengthen our communities. It is a track record of success which we will build on as we embrace the challenges of the next 50 years.

“Of course, no one can predict what the next half century holds but we can be confident that being close to communities will continue to bring results.”

In the film, Folkestone & Hythe leader Cllr Jim Martin said: “There really is no other body that could have co-ordinated this kind of development. The development is too big for any individual developer and the district council can take a forward look.”

The council’s co-ordinating role sees it drawing together developers, the local county council and community and parish councils.

  • You can read more about the work of district councils here.
  • And you can read research on how our communities value the work of their district councils here.

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