What are councillors? Elected Lay people Part of a political party or independent Unpaid (except allowances) Potentially only in power for the short term Also known as members Vote on policies Answer to the leader of the council
What are officers? Headhunted or applied for job Paid Usually full time staff Professional (lawyers, engineers, town planners, managers etc.) Long term positions Recommend policies Answer to the council chief executive
Political vs operational structure Leader of the council Cabinet leaders Full Council Voters Chief Executive Chief officers Officers Council employees
Councillor Conduct 1. Code of conduct 2. Standards Committee 3. Declaring interests NB: Coalition govt cutting Standards Board for England and Comprehensive Area Assessment http://www.guardianpublic.co.uk/coalition- programme-for-government-proposalshttp://www.guardianpublic.co.uk/coalition- programme-for-government-proposals
Open conduct Code of conduct: each council must draw this up and formally adopt it. It sets out rules of behaviour of councillors and officers and penalties incurred for misbehaving. Standards Committee: oversees code of conduct and members interests. Must have at least one lay person. Operates outside of council and chair/deputy are independent. http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/your-city- council/council-meetings/standardscommittee http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/your-city- council/council-meetings/standardscommittee
Can the standards committee bite? Anyone can report a member to the committee Not always: penalties can include attending training courses, or apologising training coursesapologising Source of good stories: Looking at porn not a breach of code of conductLooking at porn not a breach of code of conduct Which can ultimately put additional pressure on councillors: AstragateAstragate
Councillor interests Declaration of interest: councillors must declare at the beginning of a meeting if they have a vested interest on an issue due to be discussed or voted on. They then leave meeting for that item. Personal interest: if related to family / association but they still stay and/or vote Register of members interests: statutory duty to keep list of outside business and interests of all members, available to the publicavailable to the public Monitoring officer: responsible for making sure councillors comply with Code of Conduct / interests register
From committees to cabinet Old system of committees being superseded Committees (education, transport, finance etc.) made up of cross party groups who made decisions together but majority of committee from ruling party Now a cabinet made up of a small number of ruling party members who are each given a specific portfolio (housing, childrens services, culture etc.) Big decisions being put forward by a few people, cabinet members hold a lot of power
Sheffield City Council Cabinet 10 members plus additional advisors (who are also councillors and may be cross party) 10 members plus additional advisors 8 portfolios Cabinet chair (also leader of the council) Deputy leader Housing, regeneration and planning Communities Finance Climate Change Children and Young Peoples Services Culture Sport and Tourism Independent and Healthy Living Business, development and skills
Cabinet decision making Cabinets have to publish a forward plan one month in advance of key decisions which identifies issues they wish to deal with over a period – and they must abide by that plan. Key decisions is a policy which affects two or more wards or involve a significant amount of money - above £50,000 They must be presented to full council for a final say and to be voted on
Overview and scrutiny committee Also known as Scrutiny Management Committee Oversees sub-scrutiny committees that scrutinise the work of the cabinet Oversees sub-scrutiny committees Made of cross party members who are the equivalent of backbenchers A decision can be referred back to the cabinet for a second look with scrutiny committee recommendations If the cabinet refuses to change its mind, it is up to the full council to take the final decision
Policy and resources committee The most powerful sub-scrutiny committee Scrutinises council budget and major decisions Has to approve funding decisions Known as Strategic Resources and Performance Scrutiny Committee at Sheffield City CouncilStrategic Resources and Performance Scrutiny Committee
Full council Made up of all council members The full council has a number of prescribed functions ( ie roles they must carry out): the policy framework, budget, Local Transport Plan, the Education Development Plan, consideration of any by-laws the authority may want to introduce Key decisions must be passed through the full council
The rule book Council constitution: each council adopts one which outlines its form of decision making and rules of governance Standing orders: rules of day to day business such as the number and power of committees, the time limit for speakers in debates and the procedures for making amendments and voting Resolved items: matters agreed at the end of a meeting (committee, cabinet, full council) usually by a vote Prescribed functions: roles and responsibilities given to a committees/subcommittees/cabinet/ cabinet members etc.
Other terms Agenda Minutes must be public and Background paper available in advance By-law Local Government Associations UNISON Commissioner for Local Administration
A note on mayors Mayor: ceremonial title, rotated between councillors, non-political role, chairs full council meetings, attends civic events, raises money Directly elected mayor: an alternative to the cabinet approach System voted in by a local referendum Mayor runs the council and appoints a cabinet Mixture of chief executive and council leader The rest of the councillors are there to scrutinise the work of the mayor
Quality of Service Audit Commission: quango that employs district auditors to award councils star ratings for performance, particularly financial BUT soon to be scrapped – what will replace them?what will replace them? District Auditor: employed by Audit Commission to monitor performance of councils using the comprehensive area assessment which monitors key services provided in each local authority
Further help Cabinet and scrutiny: http://www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/yourcouncil/ meetings/ http://www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/yourcouncil/ meetings/ ----------------------break-----------------------
Planning tiers Planning remains one of the key functions of local councils District / unitary authorities are responsible for planning Planning divided into strategic long term plans and short term plans for controlling development The long term planning is divided into three tiers: national, regional and local
National guidance Planning Guidance Notes which tell local councils what the country's planning priorities are e.g - increasing house building or encouraging development on brownfield sites Major developments like motorways or airport runways decided by central government The Department for Communities and Local Government supports plan-making and development management, through the provision of planning legislation, national planning policy and guidance Secretary of State has power to 'call in' planning applications for determination rather than letting the local authority decide (e.g, if they conflict with national policies) More details here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/plan ningsystem/ http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/plan ningsystem/
Regional planning NB: this is about to change with scrapping of regional planning bodies + regional spatial plans Currently regional development agencies decide how they would like to see the region develop - where new industry should be encouraged, where new housing or roads are needed. Their emphasis is on economic development, transport, housing, the environment, the social infrastructure and action on climate change. http://www.yorkshire-forward.com/ Be aware of the changes from regional planning bodies into Local Enterprise PartnershipsLocal Enterprise Partnerships
Local planning The regional strategy provides the basis on which councils produce the long term plans which form the basis on which planning applications are judged Council must produce Local Development Frameworks (guidance on long term planning aims) – based on Local Development Documents (also known as local development schemes)
Local Development Documents *Development Plan Documents subject to independent testing. These will be the basis on which planning applications are made + decided. *The Development Opportunities Document which outlines potential sites and kinds of development the council wishes to see there * A Sustainability Appraisal * The Core Strategy These documents must enable community involvement and address issues of climate change
Using development documents If you want to build, extend or change the use of an existing building (e.g from a bank to a wine bar) you have to apply for planning permission Planning permission is the consent given by the council to carry out these changes Your plans must fit in with the local development framework i.e you will not be able to build a factory in an area designated for housing Planning applications can be turned down, given conditional (i.e build 10 flats on the plot rather than 15) or unconditional permission
Planning terms Planning applications are usually decided by planning committees rather than cabinet or full councilplanning committees Outline Planning Permission: permission 'in principle' subject to full planning permission at a later date. It is used where someone wants to sell land or property which they think might be attractive to developers if it has outline planning permission. Planning contribution (gain): offer by a developer of added value for being granted planning permission for a major project, e.g fund a new playground or build a community centre in return for being able to build a housing estate or a supermarket Planning blight: Planning decisions that can have a dramatic impact on property values. If it is known that a row of houses is to be demolished to make way for a motorway, it may become impossible to sell such a house and market values can collapse. Compensation at the full market value is available.
Compulsory purchase order Statutory order used by councils (planning authorities) to force home owners / businesses to sell up and move out of property Properties are then demolished and make way for new development Owners can be compensated for their loss
Planning inquiry If there is strong opposition to a development proposal then an independent inspector can be appointed by the Secretary of State This inspector compiles a report and speaks to objectors and then reports decision to the Secretary of State Secretary of State This is not the same as a planning appeal when planning consent is turned down and the applicant lodges an appeal
Limits on development Building permission: additional consent required on top of planning permission usually relating to structural alterations, to attain this developers must meet building regulations Building regulations: ensure safety and design standards are observed. Any new building -or alterations or extensions to existing ones - must comply with regulations on materials, method of construction, fire precautions and sanitation. NB: if planning permission or building permission is not obtained the council can order for a property to be demolished and then send the bill to the owner / developer
Conserving sites Listed buildings: protection on a building against alteration or demolition because of its historical importance (personalities, events or architectural movements). Three levels: grade I, II* and II, with varying levels of restrictions. Sheffield Arts Tower is Grade II*.Sheffield Arts Tower English Heritage: quango responsible for managing historical monuments/properties inc. listed buildings (safe but may merge with Heritage Lottery Fund) Conservation areas: Like listed buildings but it applies to whole neighbourhoods which have special architectural or historical interest. Protects character of an area and planning applications have to be measured against it The Green Belt – introduced after WW2 to combat urban sprawl. By 1958 every council had defined green belt – land where no development was allowed.
More terms Brownfield site: derelict buildings / land usually in urban areas that have been developed before Greenfield site: an area of land with no prior development, particularly rural areas such as fields Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Has legal protection from development due to natural beauty or rare flora and fauna. 36 in England including Nidderdale in Yorkshire Pennines Natural England: quango responsible for AONB and protecting natural environment, advise central govt
A note on National Parks There are currently 14 National Parks in the UK Each UK National Park is administered by its own National Park Authority and are independent bodies funded by central Govt Most National Parks are planning authorities with the same powers as local councils to allow or refuse new developments BUT coalition government wants to sell off all National Parks and a consultation is currently underwayconsultation This is a hugely unpopular proposal Leading to possible u-turnu-turn
Useful planning links http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corpor ate/1804403 http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corpor ate/1804403 http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and- city-development/planning-documents/sdf http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and- city-development/planning-documents/sdf NB: You will also need to know general information about the stages of the planning process, so look carefully at Table 16.4 on p.500 of Morrison
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