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Wychavon District Council The Localism Bill Olwen Dutton Local Government Partner 8 July 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Wychavon District Council The Localism Bill Olwen Dutton Local Government Partner 8 July 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wychavon District Council The Localism Bill Olwen Dutton Local Government Partner 8 July 2011

2 The Localism Bill 512 pages 215 Clauses 25 Schedules 142 powers for the Secretary of State to make subordinate Regulations At Committee Stage in House of Lords this week Royal Assent – November 2011 Implementation – from April 2012

3 Topics in the Bill General Power of Competence Committees Predetermination Standards Senior Salaries Local Referenda Council Tax and Business Rates Community Right to Provide Services Assets of Community Value Planning Housing

4 General Power of Competence

5 General Power of Competence (Cl. 1-9) “A local authority has power to do anything that individuals generally may do” Powers of an individual Powers of an Authority New Powers of an Authority

6 So, what does it mean? Increases powers to Trade, but through a Trading Company – Not limited to trading with “Public Bodies” No need to use Section 1, LA(G&S) Act 1970 Will now cover Academy and Free Schools, GPCCs, Contractors and the public No requirement for economic, social or environmental benefit No need to rely on Section 2, LGA Trading Powers Regulations Fills odd gaps in powers – Taking out commercial insurance

7 But….. Not a free for all The new power overlaps existing powers, but: -Where an existing power is subject to “restrictions”, those restrictions apply to the general power within the overlap -Pre-commencement statutory “prohibitions, restrictions or limitations” remain and apply to the new general power -You still need to know the pre-existing legislation

8 Predetermination

9 A member or co-opted member is not to be taken to have had, or to have appeared to have had, a closed mind when making a decision just because: -the decision-maker had previously done anything that directly or indirectly indicated what view the decision-maker took or would or might take, in relation to a matter, and -the matter was relevant to the decision (Clause 13(2)) To apply to local authorities but not Police or Fire Authorities The courts got there first anyway!

10 Predisposition, not Predetermination R (Island Farm Development Ltd) v Bridgend CBC “Councillors will inevitably be bound to have views on and may well have expressed them about issues of public interest locally. It would be quite impossible for decisions to be made by the elected members whom the law requires to make them if their observations could disqualify them because it might appear that they had formed a view in advance. Whatever their views, they must approach their decision-making with an open mind in the sense that they must have regard to all material considerations and must be prepared to change their views if persuaded that they should.”

11 Predisposition, not Predetermination R (Island Farm Development Ltd) v Bridgend CBC “Evidence of political affiliation or of the adoption of policies towards a planning purpose will not for these purposes by itself amount to an appearance of the real possibility of predetermination, or what counts as bias for these purposes. Something more is required, something which goes to the appearance of a predetermined, closed mind in the decision- making itself.”

12 Standards

13 Headlines Standards for England abolished General Principles and Model Code of Conduct repealed Statutory Standards Committees abolished New statutory register of interests Criminal offence to fail to register, declare or withdraw for interests No complaints after ‘Appointed Day’ 2 months to resolve outstanding complaints Power of suspension ceases on Appointed Day No appeals

14 Continuing duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct Authorities may adopt a voluntary Code and local protocols / guidance Member-officer relations Use of IT Planning and Lobbying (per ACSeS) Gifts and hospitality If the authority adopts a voluntary Code – The authority must deal with complaints of breach – Initial assessment / investigation / hearing (but may delegate) No statutory sanctions Reprimand Withdraw facilities (Broadland DC v Lashley) Remove from Cabinet or Committees (with consent of Group Leader)

15 What is left? Criminal Law Bribery Misconduct in public office Failure to register or declare interests Theft and false accounting Civil Liability Statutory Immunity, Section 265, PHA 1875 Misfeasance in public office Moores v Bude Stratton TC Defamation DIY Broadland DC v Lashley Injunctions – e.g. harassment Ombudsman

16 Local Referenda

17 Three New Routes to a Local Referendum 1. A principal authority must hold a referendum if it receives a relevant petition signed by 5% of local government electors Can be for whole of an authority’s area or for one or more wards or electoral divisions 2. A principal authority may hold a referendum if it receives a qualifying and appropriate request from Councillors 3. Council can simply resolve to hold a referendum

18 Binding Referenda on Council Tax Increases Secretary of State will set “principles” by which each authority can determine whether its proposed increase in Council Tax or Precept is “excessive”, and set an “alternative notional amount” as a comparator. Referendum by billing authority/ies not later than 1 st Thursday in May If “No” vote, substitute calculations on basis of “alternative notional amount” take effect For precepting authorities, result of referendum is the aggregate of votes in all referenda

19 Community Right to Challenge

20 Community Right to Challenge – Taking over local services and facilities A “Relevant Body” - Charitable, voluntary or community body Parish Council Two or more employees Such other person or body as specified May submit an Expression of Interest to a principal authority, bidding to provide all or part of a service on behalf of a principal authority A Relevant body may propose to deliver service as joint venture with partners.

21 Assets of Community Value

22 List of Land of Community Value “Community Nominations” of building or land by Parish and Community Councils and other specified persons The authority may also nominate If land is “of community value”, Council must put on the register for 5 years Notification to landowner and as local land charge

23 Moratorium If owner wishes to sell land on “pass” list – Notify authority of intention to sell Authority gives notice to person who nominated and publicise in locality Owner may not dispose of land Until after an Interim Moratorium Period (3 weeks) If a relevant “Community Interest Group” expresses intention to bid, until after a Full Moratorium Period (6 months?) No requirement to sell to a Community Interest Group At full or discount price Regulations will provide for payment of compensation to landowner by Council

24 Planning

25 Abolition of Regional Strategies Council Tax and Business Rates “bribes” to incentivise granting of planning permissions Presumption in favour of “sustainable” development Pre-application consultation on 200+ homes or 10,000 sq m LPA may decline to determine a retrospective planning application Where unauthorised development is concealed, LPA may apply to Magistrates for 12 months in which to commence enforcement action Infrastructure Planning Commission absorbed into DCLG

26 Neighbourhood Planning 1. Community Right to Build Order grants planning permission for specific development on a specific site 2. Neighbourhood Development Order Increases “permitted development” for a defined area 3. Neighbourhood Development Plan Local Plan for local area Can transfer Development Control responsibility to a “Community Organisation” Each must be – Proposed by a Community or Business Organisation Subject to 50% approval in local referendum

27 The Localism Bill End of Presentation Olwen Dutton, Partner T: E:


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