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 two 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    Finance
   Adult Social Services    Health and Social Care
   Children's Services    Infrastructure
   Development Control    Public Health
   Economic Development    Regulatory Services
   Education    Traffic and Transport
   Environmental Services  


Access to Information

ICO: Subject access code of practice – Dealing with requests from individuals for personal information: this guidance explains the rights of individuals to access their personal data (known as ‘the right of subject access’). All organisations that hold personal data should use the code to help them understand their obligations to provide subject access to that data, and to help them follow good practice when dealing with subject access requests.
The  ICO has also published a Subject Access Request checklist, with ten simple steps that organisations should consider when responding to subject access requests. (8 August 2013)

DCLG: Eric Pickles opens up planning appeals and lays down challenge: the Communities Secretary has announced that the Planning Inspectorate is to publish new guidance which formally opens up planning appeal hearings to be filmed, tweeted and reported. The new guidance will make clear the rights for members of the press and public, including local bloggers and journalists, to report, film and tweet planning appeal hearings. This follows the guide on Your council's cabinet: going to its meetings, seeing how it works - a guide for local people (June 2013) that explains how the public can attend and report their local council meetings and explicitly states that councils should allow the public to film, blog and tweet council meetings. (22 August 2013)

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

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Adult Social Services

R (D) v Worcestershire CC [2013] EWHC 2490 (Admin) (Admin Ct): D,a 17 year old with multiple health needs, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to adopt its Policy for Determining the Usual Maximum Expenditure for Non-Residential Care Packages. The policy stated that, other than in exceptional circumstances, the maximum weekly expenditure on care in the community for an adult under 65 years old would be "no more than the net weekly cost of a care home placement that could be commissioned to meet the individual's assessed eligible needs". The policy was accompanied by an Equality impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Report which stated that people's preferences and the desired outcomes had to be balanced against the Council's responsibilities to make best use of available resources, and that the policy involved a significant reduction of resources which might in some cases reduce the cost of care and support packages which were provided by the Council for people who wish to live independently; it recommended a full EIA. The Council held 20 consultation events on the draft policy that were attended by many individuals and representatives from organisations and consultative groups; there was also widespread media coverage. D challenged the decision to adopt the policy on the grounds that the consultation process was materially defective, and that the Council had failed to comply with its Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010.
The court held, refusing the application, that the court was not concerned with the substance of the Policy but only whether the consultation was adequate. D's submissions formed an attack on the procedure adopted by the Council in the consultation process but in substance, they bore the hallmarks of a collateral attack on the substance of the Policy. The premise on which the submissions were based was false. The consultation was not deficient at all, and certainly was not "radically wrong". Regarding non-compliance with the PSED, the potential negative impact of the Policy on those with the protected characteristic (i.e. disabilities) was clear and the Policy inherently took into account how to mitigate those effects. In adopting the policy, the Council did have due regard to its PSED, and in particular to the need to advance equality of opportunity. (9 August 2013)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Changes to the Children's Homes Regulations 2001 (as amended) and the Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010: in June 2013 DfE launched a consultation on proposals to amend SI 2001/3967 and SI 2010/2130 so as to improve collaboration and partnership between children’s homes and services in their local communities so that there are effective safeguards in place for the vulnerable group of children relying on residential care. It has now published draft Children's Homes (Amendment) Regulations 2013 that set out the proposed amendments. The consultation closes on 17 September 2013. (13 August 2013)

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

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Development Control

DCLG: Eric Pickles calls for more town centre parking spaces: announces that the Government is to publish new planning guidance that will include advice on street clutter, road humps and town centre parking. The new practice guidance will state that councils should understand the important role that appropriate parking facilities can play in rejuvenating shops, high streets and town centres. It will also set out how town hall planning rules should not be used to tax drivers nor justify development of crude traffic calming measures, such as poorly-sited bollards and road humps. (26 August 2013)

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

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Economic Development

DCLG: Proposal to establish a combined authority for Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield: seeks views on a proposal from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership to establish a Combined Authority for the areas of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire, together with the proposed structure, constitution and functions of the new authority. The authority would have responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration, and replace the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority. The consultation closes on 7 October 2013. (12 August 2013)

Welsh Government: Helping Swansea’s most deprived communities in these tough times: announces more than £6m funding over two years for Swansea under the Communities First programme that helps improve health, prosperity for those living in poorest areas of Wales and encourages access to education and learning. (21 August 2013)

DCLG / HM Treasury: Seaside towns to be given £29 million to boost growth: announces that the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) is to be increased by 5% to £29m for 2014/15, and will be extended to 2016. The CCF is financed through the allocation of funding equivalent to 50% of the revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine activities in that area, and helps seaside towns and villages achieve their economic potential, reduce unemployment and create new opportunities for young people in their local area. The press release includes details of projects that are already benefiting from the fund. (23 August 2013)

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

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Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1983 (W.193)): these regulations prescribe how the penalty notice scheme under s.444A of the Education Act 1996 (failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil) will operate in Wales. The regulations apply to penalty notices relating to truancy offences that are served on or after 2 September 2013, whether the offence was committed before or after that date. (12 August 2013)

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

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Environmental Services

DCLG: Government action to take on town hall "bin blight": announces that the Government is consulting on the results of the recent review of Building Regulations and housing standards. The paper includes proposals that Part H6 of the Building Regulations and the supporting Statutory Guidance on the design of waste storage for new homes is strengthened so as to "design out" bin blight. The Government is also publishing new planning guidance which makes it clear that local authorities should ensure that new dwellings are carefully designed so that there is enough storage space for the different types of bins used in the local authority area. It seeks views on whether, and how, Section H6 needs to be updated to tackle bin blight, e.g. by importing into H6 some of the current Code for Sustainable Homes standards on external waste storage. The consultation closes on 22 October 2013. (16 August 2013)

Welsh Government: Nearly £1 million to help keep communities tidy: announces funding for 75 projects as part of the Tidy Towns initiative to help communities improve their local area and tackle problems such as fly tipping, vandalism, dog fouling and littering. (19 August 2013)

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

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DCLG: Council Tax – National council tax discount for annexes: seeks views on proposals for a national Council Tax discount that should apply to annexes used by the occupier of the main building or a member of his or her family, to help support extended families. The consultation closes on 8 October 2013. The Government has also announced that it intends to remove the Community Infrastructure Levy on self-build properties, including all extensions, family annexes and home improvements, and that Ministers intend to remove Section 106 housing levies on such annexes and extensions. (25 August 2013)

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

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Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care Information Centre: Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards assessments, England - 2012-13, Annual report: the Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DoLS), which came into force on 1 April 2009, provide a legal framework to ensure people are deprived of their liberty only when there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment. This report provides information on uses of the legislation in 2012/13. It shows that there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of DoLS applications since their introduction in 2009/10, with 11,887 applications in 2012/13, a 4% increase on 2011/12, and a 66% increase on 2009/10. Local authorities granted a higher proportion of authorisations with a duration of more than 180 days than PCTs, which the HSCIC says may reflect differences between the care needs of hospital patients and care home residents. (20 August 2013)

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

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HM Treasury: PF1/PF2 business case approval trackers: these timelines show the different stages of the procurement process for PFI and PF2 projects, with the aim of providing greater transparency and better accountability for the private sector. The public sector is now able to see the different stages of the procurement process and identify the progress of specific projects. There are separate trackers (in PowerPoint format) for Education (covering PSBP & BSF), Transport, Health and DCLG (housing). (22 August 2013)

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

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Public Health

Public Health England: Public health appointments to local authorities: PHE has written to local authorities with background and more information on PHE’s role in the appointment of Directors of Public Health (DPH), in light of concerns about appointments in Lancashire and Telford & Wrekin. PHE states that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the October 2012 guidance from the DH is clear that local authorities must, acting jointly with PHE, appoint an appropriately-qualified DPH to have responsibility for public health functions. The DH is in the process of amending the October 2012 guidance and making it statutory, and PHE does not expect any significant changes. (12 August 2013) 

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

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Regulatory Services

Home Office:  Surveillance camera code of practice comes into force: announces the coming into force of the new Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, issued under s.29 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, that sets out guidelines for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems in public places to ensure their use is open and proportionate and that they are able to capture quality images. It sets out 12 guiding principles that system operators should adopt. Relevant authorities (as defined by s.33 of the 2012 Act, which include local authorities and police forces in England and Wales) must have regard to the Code when exercising any functions to which the Code relates; other operators and users of surveillance camera systems in England and Wales are encouraged to adopt the code voluntarily. (12 August 2013)

Home Office: Scrap Metal Dealer Act 2013 – Guidance on licence fee charges: the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 will provide effective and proportionate regulation of the scrap metal sector, with a more robust, local authority run, licensing regime. It also creates a fee-raising power, allowing local authorities to recover the costs stemming from administering and seeking compliance with the regime. This guidance provides information about the fee-raising function for local authorities, together with useful details for those applying for a dealer licence. The Act comes into force on 1 October 2013. (12 August 2013)

Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Guidelines on Levels of Charges) (Wales) Order 2013 (SI 2013/1969 (W.191)): this Order, which comes into force on 2 November 2013,  gives guidance to Welsh enforcement authorities on the level of charges for specified road traffic contraventions under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. (7 August 2013)

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

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Traffic and Transport

DfT: Briefing on the Government's ambition for cycling: explains the Government’s ambition for increased levels of cycling and summarises new funding and policy commitments that will support an increase in cycling. (12 August 2013) 
See also: DfT: Government shifts cycling up a gear: announces funding for cycling improvements in eight urban areas and four national parks. It also gives details of other other measures being introduced to encourage and help cyclists, including 20mph speed zones and improving junctions, signals and cycle lanes. (12 August 2013)

Traffic Commissioners: Revised statutory guidance on local bus services: seeks views on draft statutory guidance and statutory directions on local bus services. It sets out what Traffic Commissioners should expect from operators who run registered bus routes and revises the standards for reliable and punctual services, and refers to the responsibilities on local authorities, local bus partnerships and the expectations on the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. It also proposes revisions to financial penalty levels where operators fail, without a reasonable excuse, to operate a local bus service, or do not run a registered service according to the timetable. The consultation closes on 13 November 2013. (21 August 2013)

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

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