Authority Update

This update contains brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work, which have been published in thefour weeks up to13January 2012. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

13/01/2012

Claire Booth

Claire Booth

Professional Support Lawyer

Legal intelligence for professionals in local government.

This update contains brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work, which have been published in the previous four weeks. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

All links are correct at the date of publication. The following topics are covered in this update:  

   Access to Information    Equality and Discrimination
   Adult Social Services    Finance
   Audit    Fraud
   Byelaws    Health and Social Care
   Children's Services    Maladministration
   Education    Procurement
   Elections    Standards
   Enforcement
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme 

 

Access to Information

MoJ: Post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000: the MoJ has submitted its assessment of how the 2000 Act has worked in practice to the Justice Select Committee. The Committee will then decide whether to carry out further scrutiny of the Act. This Memorandum examines how the Act was implemented and how it is used, the extent to which information is revealed under the Act and the impacts of the Act on public authorities. It explores the objectives of the Act when it was first passed and evaluates whether those objectives have been met. (19 December 2011)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson.

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Adult Social Services

DWP: £200 million payment by results scheme to help troubled families: announces a new outreach service to help families with multiple problems overcome barriers to employment. Eight welfare to work providers have been appointed to work with local authorities and local organisations to identify and deliver the services and support needed. The providers will be paid by results, based on the same principles as the Work Programme. (3 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Olwen Dutton.

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Audit

DCLG: Government response to the future of local audit consultation: sets out how the Government proposes to proceed with its plans to abolish the Audit Commission and set up a new audit framework, in light of the March 2011 consultation. DCLG wil be holding further discussions on the underlying detail of the framework and how it might be implemented, and developing transitional arrangements. It is also exploring different options for auditor appointment for smaller bodies in light of concerns raised about the burden on smaller bodies of the proposed local auditor appointment models. The Government will publish a draft Bill this Spring on the closure of the Audit Commission and establishing the new framework, and it will introduce the legislation into Parliament as soon as Parliamentary time allows. The outsource contracts that the Commission will put in place will start from 2012-13 and are expected to run for three or five years, giving local councils and other public bodies the time to plan for appointing their own auditors. Once the audits have been outsourced, the Commission will be radically reduced in size to become a small residuary body responsible for overseeing the contracts and making any necessary changes to the individual audit appointments during the life of the contracts. (4 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans.

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Byelaws

DCMS: Consultation on the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2012: the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 replaces the ban on protests with a system under which it is an offence to refuse a direction not to undertake disruptive activities such as setting up or using camping or sleeping equipment, or using amplified noise equipment, which prevents others from using public spaces in Parliament Square. This paper seeks views on proposals to extend these powers to the Royal Parks land around Parliament, so as to provide a consistent approach to the Parliament Square area. The consultation closes on 23 January 2012. (14 December 2011)

Westminster City Council: Parliament Square - Proposed byelaws: seeks views on proposed new byelaws that would give authorised officers and constables powers to deal with tents and other structures in the Parliament Square and Whitehall area, and to seize noise equipment used in contravention of existing byelaws throughout the city. The consultation closes on 13 January 2011. (8 December 2011)

Mayor of London: Draft byelaws, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square Garden: seeks views on draft revised byelaws for Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square Garden that update the existing byelaws to take account of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2001 which introduces a new regime for Parliament Square. A number of other minor amendments have been made to the byelaws to simplify and update where possible.The consultation closes on 22 January 2012. (9 December 2011)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas.

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Children's Services

DfE: Positive for youth - A new approach to cross-government policy for young people aged 13 to 19:  this statement is a new approach to cross-Government policy for young people aged 13-19 in England. It brings together all of the Government’s policies for this age group, presenting a single vision across the interests of at least nine departments, from education and youth services to health, crime, housing and more. It sets out a shared vision for how all parts of society (including councils, schools, charities, businesses) can work together in partnership to support families and improve outcomes for young people, particularly those who are most disadvantaged or vulnerable. It states that local authorities have the primary responsibility for improving young people’s outcomes and commissioning appropriate services but will need to work with young people, families, and communities, and with local partners such as charities, schools, health services and the police, to assess needs and co-ordinate local resources. The DfE is providing funding of £780,000 in 2011-13 to the LGA to make sure that local authority commissioners get the support they need to improve local services for young people. (19 December 2011)

DfE: Assessment process for adopters to be reformed: announces that the Children's Minister has appointed an Adoption Assessment Working Group made up of representatives from across the adoption sector to draw up a new process to recruit, train and assess people as adoptive parents. The group will work with Martin Narey, the Government's Adoption Adviser, and provide recommendations in March on a new, more efficient process to be introduced later in 2012. The Government is also working on a wider programme of reform to overhaul the adoption and care system. More details on these proposals will be published in early 2012. (22 December 2011)

Ofsted: Guide to registration on the childcare register: sets out: who must apply to join the Childcare Register; who can choose to do so; and how Ofsted registers those applying. It also gives information on continued registration and inspection. 
Ofsted has also published a factsheet Childcare on domestic premises that explains this type of childcare and answers basic questions. (5 January 2012)

Ofsted: Inspection of adoption support agencies: seeks views on a proposed revised framework for the inspection of adoption support agencies. Key changes are a reduction in the number of judgements and shorter notice of inspections. The consultation closes on 3 April 2012. (10 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson.

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Education

DfE: Consultation on a Revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (Learning and Development Requirements) (Amendment) Order 2012: in July 2011 the Government consulted on a revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, responding to the recommendations of the independent Tickell review. This consultation seeks further comments on the Government's proposed changes to some parts of the learning and development requirements in the revised EYFS framework: the early learning goals and the educational programmes.  It is also an opportunity to comment on the statutory instrument which gives legal effect to these. The consultation closes on 19 January 2012. (20 December 2011)

School Admissions (Admission Arrangements and Co-ordination of Admission Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/8): these regulations, which come into force on 1 February 2012, consolidate and replace the Admissions Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/3089, SI 2008/3090 and SI 2008/3091) regarding the arrangements by which children are admitted to maintained schools in England; they also apply to Academies regarding the referral of objections to the Schools Adjudicator. The regulations provide that looked after children should have the highest priority for places, with limited exceptions. The regulations should be read alongside the revised Schools Admission and Admission Appeals Codes. (10 January 2012)

School Admissions (Appeals Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/9): these regulations, which come into force on 1 February 2012, provide for appeal panels that must be constituted where a parent or child appeals against a decision to refuse admission to a school under s.94 and s.95 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. They prescribe the manner in which an appeal panel is to be constituted and the payment of allowances to appeal panel members by the body or bodies responsible for making the arrangements in respect of financial loss, and travel and subsistence expenses. They revoke and replace SI 2002/2899. (10 January 2012)

School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/10): these regulations, which come into force on 1 February 2012, set the size limit of an infant class in a maintained school at 30 pupils. They add new categories of excepted pupils who may be admitted beyond this limit and change the circumstances in which pupils cease to be excepted. They revoke and replace SI 1998/1973 and SI 2006/3409. (10 January 2012)

DfE: Statutory guidance for schools: this web page links to all statutory guidance documents for schools issued by the DfE,  organised by subject area (e.g. Admissions, Behaviour, Looked after children, SEN). (11 January 2012)

DfE: New arrangements for teacher appraisal and capability to be introduced from September 2012: announces that new Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 will abolish the three hour limit on classroom observation and give schools and local authorities more freedom to design appraisal policies that suit their own individual circumstances. Schools will also be required to assess teachers every year against the new, simpler and sharper Teachers’ Standards. DfE has published a new model policy on teacher appraisal and capability that schools may use when drawing up their own policies for managing teacher performance and appraisals. (13 January 2012)

DfE: Consultation on proposed changes to the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 to require governing bodies to share information with prospective employers about whether head teachers and teachers have been in capability procedures: seeks views on proposals to require schools to pass on information to prospective employers, on request, about whether a teacher is or has been subject to capability procedures. This would help deal with the problem of ‘recycling’ of poor teachers, by helping schools make better, more informed decisions when recruiting. The Government also proposes to amend the associated guidance, Guidance on Managing Staff Employment in Schools, to reflect the new requirement. The consultation closes on 24 February 2012. (13 January 2012) 

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson.

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Elections

Electoral Commission: Revised performance standards for Returning Officers in Great Britain: the Electoral Commission has powers under the Electoral Administration Act 2006 to set and monitor performance standards for electoral services. This revised performance standards framework focuses on the way in which Returning Officers carry out their functions with a view to ensuring that elections are conducted with the interests of voters in mind and in line with a set of key principles for each election. (20 December 2011)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans.

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Enforcement

MoJ: National standards for enforcement agents: these revised standards outline the minimum standards of behaviour expected of bailiffs and bailiff firms. They are intended for use by all enforcement agents, the agencies that employ them and the major creditors who use their services, including local authorities. The changes tackle intimidating and threatening behaviour, prevent bailiffs from misrepresenting their powers, and reinforce rules about how firms should resolve complaints about rogue agents. The standards are voluntary; however, the Justice Minister has announced that there will be a consultation in Spring 2012 on a new legally-binding regulatory regime for bailiffs.  (13 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Adam Kendall.

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Equality and Discrimination

R (Bailey) v Brent LBC; All Souls College (Interested Party); Equality & Human Rights Commission (Intervener) [2011] EWCA Civ 1586 (CA): B appealed against the High Court’s refusal of her application for judicial review of the council's decision to make changes to its public library services, including closing six of its 12 public libraries. The council had carried out a consultation on its proposals and also prepared an Equality Impact Assessment. The judge dismissed B’s claims that the council had failed to comply with its duties under s.7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, and had also failed to comply with the public sector equality duties in s.149 of the Equality Act 2010.
The court held, dismissing the appeal, that, given the scale of the spending reductions the council was required to make, and the information available following earlier studies, the council’s decision that the library service should bear a share of the reduction was not unlawful. There was no reason to doubt that the council was aware of its statutory duties: the decision as to which libraries to close was carefully considered by the council, and the council was not in breach of its duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination in failing to give further consideration to the racial dimension, in so far as it affected the Asian community in relation to other communities. Factors were rightly and rationally considered when making the decisions as to which libraries should be closed and decisions were explained in the reports. Observance of that duty by decision makers is fact-sensitive and inevitably varies considerably from situation to situation, from time to time and from stage to stage; here, there was no breach of the duty. The council exercised its functions with due regard to the requirements under s.149. It was not necessary for an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) to be conducted before the formulation of the proposals on which the public were to be consulted. The council had s.149 properly in mind from an early stage and for that reason decided to carry out a full EIA for consideration together with the results of the consultation. Factors under s.149 were in mind at each stage. The council did not put the relevant requirements to one side until the ultimate decision was taken but had regard to them as an integral part of the decision-making process. (19 December 2011)

R (Rajput) v Waltham Forest LBC; R (Tiller) v East Sussex CC [2011] EWCA Civ 1577 (CA): R and T, who were both disabled, each appealed against the High Court's refusal to grant judicial review of their respective authority's decision to cut social care services. Both claimants contended that the council had breached its duty under s.49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now replaced by s.149 of the Equality Act 2010). In R's case, the council proposed to close a day centre, while in T's case the council proposed to change the level of service provided to sheltered housing residents, including the replacement of a 24 hour on site warden service with an onsite warden during office hours only and an off site service at other times. 
The court held, dismissing both appeals, that: (1) in T's case, the judge was entitled to reach the conclusion that the council had discharged its duty under s.49A. The impact of the proposed changes on the disabled tenants was obvious and was apparent from the report. Although the report could have been fuller, it explained the alternative services that were to be provided and that they were viewed as sufficient; and it explained the costs savings of the proposed changes. The lead cabinet member was aware of the council's obligations under the 1995 Act and his reasons for his decision show that he was satisfied that the alternative proposed arrangements would provide the tenants with sufficient support and care. The judge was entitled to conclude that the council had discharged its due regard duty, in particular with regard to the s.49A(1)(d) 'need';
(2) in R's case, the appeal had become academic because of R's inaction and delay and the change of use to which the centre had been devoted this year. Judicial review was a discretionary remedy - in deciding whether to grant permission, the court was entitled to look at the case overall, and in doing so to take account of any lack of urgency by the claimants in pursuing their case and any detriment to good administration caused by their failure to do so. In July the council made a wholly reasonable request for an explanation of the purpose of proceedings but received no answer. Although there was no "undue delay" in making the original application, there was undue and unexplained delay in responding to the new situation resulting from the discharge of the undertaking. which had been prejudicial to good administration and justified the court in confirming the refusal of permission. (20 December 2011)

R (Greenwich Community Law Centre) v Greenwich LBC [2011] EWHC 3463 (Admin) (Admin Ct): GCLC provided free legal advice and assistance on immigration, welfare benefits, housing, employment and debt issues to people in the Greenwich area. It was funded by the local authority and other bodies. It applied for judicial review of the local authority's decision to cease funding it. Following a recommissioning review of legal advice services in the borough, the local authority decided to offer grant arrangements in four service areas on a single agency basis. GCLC submitted a bid for the immigration and employment grant. The evaluation panel's report showed that GCLC had a lower score than P, the other bidder for the grant, and the local authority decided to award the grant to P. GCLC contended that: the timetable for the commissioning of legal advice services was irrational as it failed to comply with the National and Greenwich Compact on withdrawing funding which required a minimum three months' notice period; the authority had failed to conduct a risk assessment regarding the transfer of provision from GCLC to other providers; and that the authority was in breach of its equality duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 as it had failed to conduct an equality impact assessment (EIA) considering the impact of the cessation of funding on smaller local organisations.
The court held, dismissing the application, that there was no reviewable flaw in how the authority had behaved in this case nor could any doubt be cast on its actions throughout the grant awarding process. GCLC had had more than six months' notice that its existing funding relationship would end. GCLC's bid was scored as comparatively weak and the authority was not entitled to take account of, and weigh in its favour, the difficulties which the clients might face if its funding were to cease. Those difficulties were a factor to be taken into account but were not strong enough to counter the results of the evaluation, and there was no evidence that GCLC's clients have been disadvantaged or could not transfer to the new providers. There was no legal obligation to conduct a formal EIA before every decision. The authority had conducted an EIA in March 2011 in advance of its decision not to award funding for legal advice services and it paid due regard to its equalities duties by remaining faithful to the focus on priority groups in the tendering exercise. There was no need for a further EIA with regard to the outcome as selection of the winning tenders would inevitably pay due regard to the equalities objectives and no new or different equalities considerations arose. (21 December 2011)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Olwen Dutton.

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Finance

Local Government Finance Bill: this Bill has been introduced into Parliament and received its 2nd Reading. The Bill supports the Government’s commitment to delivering economic growth, decentralising control over finance, and reducing the deficit. It introduces a rates retention scheme, enabling local authorities to retain a proportion of the business rates generated in their area. It also provides a framework for the localisation of support for council tax in England, which, alongside other council tax measures, will give councils increased financial autonomy and a greater stake in the economic future of their local area, while providing continuation of council tax support for the most vulnerable in society. (19 December 2011)
For a commentary on the Bill, see the LGA briefing: Local government finance reforms.

DCLG: Local Government Resource Review - Proposals for business rates retention consultation: Government response Plain English guide: the Local Government Finance Bill includes the legislative framework for the business rates retention scheme that was first discussed in the June 2011 consultation. This guide sets out how the scheme will operate to create a direct financial incentive for local authorities who grow their economies that is both deliverable and sustainable. It also sets out how DCLG will ensure that all authorities have sufficient resources to deliver local services. (19 December 2011)

DCLG: 14 areas get 2012 starter gun to 'pool and save' billions: announces the 14 areas that have been chosen to be Community Budget pilots – four Whole Place pilots and ten Neighbourhood Level ones. The councils or neighbourhood teams will be able to combine resources with all public services in their area into a single locally coordinated pool and save pot with greater local control of improved services for local people.  The four Whole Place pilots will run a Community Budget next year focusing on “ways to create local growth and reduce dependency on the state” while the Neighbourhood Level areas will develop smaller scale Community Budgets that will give residents a micro-local level say over the services they want and use. (21 December 2011)

Local Government (Structural Changes) (Finance) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/20): these regulations, which come into force on 25 January 2012, amend SI 2008/3022 regarding the exercise of council tax functions by authorities that have undergone structural reorganisation under s.7 LGPIH Act 2007. The amendments provide for changes under the Localism Act 2011 regarding the way in which authorities in England calculate their council tax and the introduction of council tax referendums. (10 January 2012)

DCLG: Bob Neill gives more councils the go-ahead to tackle historic pay inequalities: announces that DCLG has issued a total of £200m in Capitalisation Directions for equal pay back pay to 12 local authorities for 2011-12. This will enable the authorities to meet revenue costs of settling pay inequalities out of capital resources, either through borrowing or capital receipts. (10 January 2012)

Draft Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (Council Tax Increases) (England) Regulations 2012: the Localism Act 2011 inserts a new Chapter 4ZA into the Local Government Finance Act 1992 that creates a new system enabling local electors in England to approve or veto excessive council tax increases in referendums and abolishing central government capping powers. Where an authority sets a council tax increase in excess of a limit determined by the Secretary of State and approved by the House of Commons, a binding referendum must be held on that increase. These draft regulations, once in force, provide for the conduct of those referendums to ensure that they are conducted effectively and consistently. (13 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Jon Coane.

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Fraud

DCLG: Social housing fraud: seeks views on proposals that would help landlords reduce the prevalence of tenancy fraud, such as unlawful subletting and key-selling, within the social housing stock. The proposals include new criminal offences of tenancy fraud with a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment and a fine of up to £50,000. They also extend local authorities' powers of prosecution, allow for restitutionary payments to be made to landlords and remove the loopholes that allow those abusing their tenancies to retain them. The consultation closes on 4 April 2012. (11 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Kane Kirkbride.

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Health and Social Care

DH: Patient champions receive funding boost: announces an additional £3.2m funding for local authorities to establish Local Healthwatch, the new local health bodies set to replace LINks. In addition, there will be funding of over £370,000 until the end of the 2011/12 financial year for 75 Healthwatch Pathfinders (a partnership between LINks and local authorities to test out the role of Local Healthwatch) which can be used to spread best practice, engage more in the community, and financially support volunteers. (3 January 2012)

R (Mavalon Care Ltd) v Pembrokeshire CC [2011] EWHC 3371 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the High Court has for a second time quashed Pembrokeshire CC's decision regarding the fees paid to residential care home providers.
In December 2010 in R (Forest Care Home Ltd) v Pembrokeshire CC [2010] EWHC 3514 (Admin), Hickinbottom J quashed the Council’s original decision to pay £390 pw per resident in 2010/11. The council then reassessed the rate using an economic toolkit developed by Laing and Buisson that applied a figure of 12% to base figures for the assumed capital cost of land and buildings to calculate the rate of return on capital. However, the Director of Social Service's report stated that a 12% return on capital was likely to be very generous, and he concluded that a reasonable target return on capital should be 6%. The Council then raised its payment per resident to £464 pw. MC and six other care home providers applied for judicial review of that new decision. They contended that the Council had breached its duty under s.21 of the National Assistance Act 1948 as the methodology used in arriving at the 6% rate for return on capital, rather than the 12% used since 2008, which resulted in a fee of some £52 pw per resident lower than it would otherwise be, lacked any rational foundation, failed to take account of its legitimate current and future costs, did not consider what they needed in order to be viable, and gave no incentive for care home providers in the county to improve their facilities.
The court held that an important part of the judgment in Forest Care Homes had been lost sight of. The clear message of Hickinbottom J's judgment was that a decision-maker who agreed to use a model, but then wished to depart from it, needed to take great care lest the departure was an inappropriate one. The council might have reached a different decision if it had had regard to the guidance about sustainability, what was stated in Forest Care Homes on the application of the 12% rate of return in Laing and Buisson's toolkit, and the way in which, given the initial decision to use the toolkit, a departure from it had to be justified. The new decision would be set aside and remitted to the Council for the redetermination of the rate for 2010/11. (16 December 2011) 

DCLG: New deal will help older people live at home for longer: the Housing Minister has announced £51m funding towards Home Improvement Agencies that will help older people to continue living comfortably in their own homes, with particular support for those leaving hospital. The agencies will provide help and advice on housing, handyman services, energy efficiency, home adaptations and repairs, and hospital discharge services. He also announced plans for councils to consider the needs of their ageing residents in their local housing plans, by planning the numbers of new homes built  to ensure they include features that meet the needs of older people, such as wider doors for wheelchairs and walk-in showers. (3 January 2011)

DH: Public health transition planning support for primary care trusts and local authorities: this guidance supports local authorities and PCTs as they develop transition plans for the transformation of the local public health system. It includes guidance on how transfer of accountability from the NHS to local government will be carried out during the transition year.
See also the LGA's transition guidance on Public health workforce issues. (13 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Olwen Dutton.

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Maladministration

LGA: Local Government Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill - briefing: this Private Member's Bill, which was introduced into Parliament by Christopher Chope, provides for a new appeals procedure direct to the LGO where a local authority bans or imposes restrictions on an event on the grounds of health and safety. This briefing, prepared for the House of Commons Committee stage, sets out the LGA's concerns regarding the Bill. The LGA does not believe that introducing additional legislation and bureaucracy is necessary. it considers that these proposals as they stand will simply create confusion and an extra financial burden on local authorities without achieving better outcomes. (9 January 2012)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans.

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Procurement

European Commission: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on public procurement (COM (2011) 896): this draft Directive is intended to replace the Consolidated Procurement Directive 2004/18. It follows on from the January 2011 Green Paper that sought views on options for legislative changes to make the award of contracts easier and more flexible and enable public contracts to be put to better use in support of other policies, including the need for simpler and more flexible procedures, strategic use of public procurement to promote other policy objectives, improving access of SMEs to public contracts and combating favouritism, corruption and conflicts of interest. (20 December 2011)
Further details of the draft Directive are set out in Memo/11/931 – FAQs on Commission proposals to modernise the European public procurement market.

For a detailed overview of the proposed Directive, see our article Proposals for new Procurement Directives.

European Commission: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the award of concession contracts (COM (2011) 897): this draft Directive aims to complete the European public procurement regime by including public-private partnerships (PPPs) ("concessions"). The proposed rules establish a clear legal framework to ensure the necessary legal certainty for public authorities when performing their duties, guaranteeing effective access to the concessions market for all European businesses, including SMEs, so as to stimulate the development of PPPs. The Commission proposes the obligatory publication of concessions in the OJEU, and also proposes specifying the obligations of the contracting authorities as regards the choice of selection and award criteria, imposing certain basic guarantees which should be respected during the award procedure and extending the benefits of the Remedies Directive regarding public procurement to any person interested in obtaining a concession, as well as adopting certain clarifications on, for example, the concession amendments currently under way. The provisions will apply only to large concessions in cases with an evident cross-border interest. (20 December 2011)
Further details are set out in Memo/11/932 – FAQs on the draft Concessions Contracts Directive.

Competition Commission: Local bus services market investigation: the Commission has published the final report of its investigation into the local bus industry, made under s.131 of the Enterprise Act 2002. It identifies a number of factors that restrict entry and expansion into local areas by rivals and otherwise stifle competition, and outlines a package of measures to tackle these factors and open markets up in future. The Commission concludes that there are four features of local bus markets which mean that effective head-to-head competition is uncommon and which limit the effectiveness of potential competition and new entry, namely:

  • the existence of: high levels of concentration;
  • barriers to entry and expansion;
  • customer conduct in deciding which bus to catch; and
  • operator conduct by which operators avoid competing with other operators in ‘Core Territories’ (certain parts of an operator’s network which it regards as its ‘own’ territory) leading to geographic market segregation.

It recommends a package of remedies, including market-opening measures to reduce barriers to entry and expansion; measures to promote competition in relation to the tendering of contracts for supported services; and recommendations about the wider policy and regulatory environment, including emphasising compliance with and effective enforcement of competition law. (21 December 2011) 

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Susie Smith.

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Standards

DCLG: New standards and conduct arrangements for local authority members - implementation timetable: this press release from ACSeS includes a copy of a letter from DCLG announcing that the new standards regime under the Localism Act 2011 will come into force on 1 July 2012, not 1 April 2012 as previously considered, so as to give local authorities time to take action to implement the changes to the standards arrangements. The Standards Board for England will still cease its regulatory functions on 31 January 2012, and will be abolished no later than 31 March 2012; however, the new standards arrangements (including consideration and determination of outstanding complaints made during the period the Standards Board regime was operating) will be the responsibility of local authorities from 1 July 2012. (6 January 2012)

To help you implement these changes, Peter Keith-Lucas has drafted a model Monitoring Officer's report to the current Standards Committee and Council, and prepared a draft set of "arrangements". You are welcome to make use of these documents, adapting them to your own authority's circumstances. To request copies of these documents please email Tara Walsh.

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas.

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Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

Bevan Brittan has developed a well-recognised programme of training designed to assist local authorities in successfully implementing legal change. Led by key members of our local authority team, each session will clearly explain the key aspects of the law and the implications for local government. Using case studies and carefully selected complementary speakers, they will assist attendees in realising the full benefits of implementation and the dangerous pitfalls in failure to act.

Forthcoming seminars in 2012 include:

For a list of all Bevan Brittan seminars see the Events page on our website. If you wish to attend an LGG seminar that we are hosting at our offices, please book with LGG direct.

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