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:

   Adult Social Services    Electoral Services
   Children's Services    Environmental Health
   Coastal Protection and Flooding    Finance
   Communities    Fire and Rescue Authorities
   Community Infrastructure Levy    Housing
   Consultation    Powers and Duties
   Coroner Services    Procurement
   Delivery of Services    Public Health
   Economic Development    Regulatory Services
   Education    Traffic and Transport


Adult Social Services

DH: New offence of ill-treatment or wilful neglect: seeks views on developing a new criminal offence of ill-treatment or wilful neglect of patients and service users. The proposal arises as part of the response to the Francis Report and follows a recommendation of the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England. The proposed new statutory offence would apply where an individual or organisation wilfully neglects or ill-treats someone in a way that causes serious harm or death. "Wilfully" connotes acting deliberately or recklessly. Penalties for the offence would be equivalent to those under s.44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The consultation closes on 31 March 2014. (27 February 2014)

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: Adoption – Getting it right, making it work: seeks views on amendments to statutory guidance and regulations about: Fostering for Adoption; consideration of ethnicity when matching children with prospective adopters; placing siblings with an adoptive family; information to be provided about adoption support; the Adoption and Children Act Register and contact in respect of children in care and adopted children. The DfE is also consulting on the revision to the second outcome in standard 13 of the adoption National Minimum Standards and the revamped statutory adoption guidance. The consultation ccloses on 11 April 2014. (28 February 2014)

Welsh Government: Early intervention programme for families extended: announces that the Integrated Family Support Services programme has been extended to cover all of Wales. The early intervention programme is run by  Welsh local authorities, in partnership with their respective local health boards, for families whose children are at risk of being taken into care where parental alcohol or substance misuse issues are a major contributing factor. It is also designed to help with other difficulties within those families such as domestic violence or mental health problems. (28 February 2014)

Welsh Government: £2.3 million to support hard working families with child care: announces Out of School Childcare grant funding for Welsh local authorities to assist families who wish to access childcare before and after the school day. The funding can also be used to support holiday clubs and play schemes during the school holidays. (24 February 2014)

DfE: Record number of councils sign 'Care leavers' charter': announces that 123 councils across England have now signed up to the Care Leavers’ Charter, pledging to provide young people leaving care with comprehensive support and advice until they reach their 25th birthday. The Charter sets out how care leavers should be treated and the support they should expect to receive from their local authority. (7 March 2014)

Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 (Commencement No. 8) Order 2014 (SI 2014/373 (W. 41)): this Order brings Part 3 of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 into force on 28 February 2014 in relation to four local authority areas in Wales (Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd). Part 3 places a duty on the listed local authorities to establish one or more integrated family support (“IFS”) teams in their area. A Local Health Board whose area corresponds to the area of a local authority must participate in the establishment of an IFS team. (18 February 2014)

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

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Coastal Protection and Flooding

Environment Agency: Flood defence funding – Propose a project for 2015/16 grant in aid ; Guidance for risk management authorities: guidance for flood risk management authorities on how to propose a project for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management grant in aid funding. It applies to any potential flood and coastal erosion risk management project costing over £5,000. (21 February 2014)

DEFRA: Funding for Lead Local Flood Authorities in England for 2014-15: explains how Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) are funded to carry out their new duties under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. It shows that, since April 2013, the funding is provided through a Local Services Support Grant (LSSG) and through their settlement funding assessment. This funding is not ring fenced and local authorities are free to decide how much to spend in the light of other local priorities. Table 1 shows the LSSG allocations to each LLFA for 2014 to 2015. (25 February 2014)

DEFRA: The Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan – A 20 year plan for a sustainable future: this Plan was prepared by a broad partnership of local and national organisations in response to the Environment Secretary's challenge to Somerset to develop an Action Plan for a long-term sustainable future for the Somerset Levels and Moors. It sets out a number of initiatives that will ensure better protection against floods in the future, including:

  • Immediate plans to dredge 8km of the Rivers Parrett and Tone as soon as it is safe and practical to do so;
  • Making some temporary flood defences and pumping sites permanent;
  • Helping local partners take more responsibility for water management on the Levels through a new Somerset Rivers Board;
  • Supporting farmers to manage flood risk better; and
  • Ensuring new developments meet the highest standards for water and drainage.

The Government has announced an additional £10m funding to support the recovery effort in Somerset to fix damaged roads and improve the network’s ability to cope with tough weather conditions and flooding. An extra £500,000 is also being made available from the Severe Weather Recovery Fund to help people on the Somerset Levels get back on their feet and prevent future flooding, in addition to funding provided to local authorities under the Bellwin Scheme. (6 March 2014)

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

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DCLG: Multi-faith communities to benefit from new £3 million grant: announces that the successful Near Neighbours programme is to be epxanded across nine new areas of the country. The Near Neighbours programme provides small grants and support to grassroots groups and multi-faith communities with significant religious diversity, to help them run projects which will bring about lasting benefits to their neighbourhoods. (27 February 2014)

Welsh Government: Draft Playing Fields (Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions) (Wales) Regulations 2014 and related statutory guidance: seeks views on proposed regulations and associated guidance that will require local authorities to consult prior to a decision to dispose of a playing field. The consultation closes on 30 May 2014. (28 February 2014)

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

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Community Infrastructure Levy

Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/385): these regulations, which come into force on 24 February 2014, amend the operation of the Community Infrastructure Levy under SI 2010/948. They also introduce new exemptions for certain residential development, and restrictions on the ability of local planning authorities to require developers to enter into highways agreements where the levy applies. The amendments relate to: the setting of the Levy; calculation and payment of the Levy; reliefs and exemptions from the Levy; the relationship between the Levy and planning obligations and highway agreements; and appeals. (23 February 2014)

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

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R (Welsh Language Commissioner) v National Savings and Investments [2014] EWHC 488 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the court has granted the Welsh Language Commissioner's application to quash the decision of National Savings and Investments (NS&I) to withdraw its Welsh Language Scheme.
NS&I adopted its first Welsh Language Scheme in 1998, after obtaining approval from the Welsh Language Board. The Scheme set out the detail of how NS&I would deal with the Welsh-speaking public, which included a Welsh telephone enquiry service , replying to correspondence in Welsh by employing a translation agency, facilitating the use of Welsh in public meetings, bilingual advertisements, and providing information on the NS&I website regarding its Welsh language services. NS&I stated that it would prepare and continuously update a detailed action plan to be agreed with the Board, setting out how NS&I will ensure that it would operate in accordance with the Scheme, and would monitor the progress in implementing the Scheme against the plan's targets. It also said that it would review the Scheme within four years of its coming into effect. In 2013 NS&I advised the Commissioner that it had decided to withdraw its Scheme as it was not an effective use of public funds, given the small number of its customers that corresponded with it in Welsh. NS&I also stated that, as an executive agency of HM Treasury, it was not a "public body" under s.21 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 and so was not required to prepare a Scheme. Following an investigation, the Commissioner concluded that NS&I had failed fully to implement the Scheme in its entirety, and had purported to revoke the scheme without the authority to make such a decision. The Commissioner applied for judicial review of NS&I's decision, contending that: having adopted a Welsh Language Scheme under the 1993 Act, NS&I had no legal power to revoke it and its decision to revoke the Scheme frustrated the legislative purpose of s.21(5); and NS&I's failure to consult with the Commissioner and/or obtain her approval before taking the decision was unlawful because it contravened her legitimate expectation, failed to take into account that agreement as a relevant consideration, and was irrational.
The court held, granting the application, that the power implied into the 1993 Act for a Crown body to adopt a Welsh Language Scheme carried with it an implied power for that body also to withdraw or revoke such a scheme. However, NS&I's Scheme led to a legitimate expectation in the Commissioner that NS&I would not make any changes to the Scheme before consulting her. NSI's engagement with the Commissioner was wholly inadequate. At a time when the Commissioner was attempting to perform her statutory functions and trying to engage with NS&I, the responses she received from senior executives within NS&I were brusque, inappropriate, discourteous and disrespectful of the Commissioner's office and her functions. NS&I's process fell very far short of proper and lawful consultation; and, after introducing a Welsh Language Scheme in which it promised to make no changes without the approval of the Commissioner, and maintaining that Scheme successfully for some 14 years, the conduct of the NS&I in giving some two months' notice of its decision to withdraw that Scheme, without consulting the Commissioner and without engaging with her in a meaningful way, fell substantially below her legitimate expectation that she would be consulted on any proposed change. The court was not satisfied that, but for the unlawfulness, NS&I's decision would necessarily have remained the same. No reasonable public body would announce such a substantial change as that announced by NS&I without at least consulting the statutory body responsible for supervising such schemes; that failure could not be overcome by arguing that other aspects of the decision were reasonable. (6 March 2014)
The judgment is also available in Welsh.

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

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Coroner Services

MoJ: Guide to coroner services: this statutory guidance, issued under s.24 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, explains the coroner investigation process, including the inquest, and sets out the standards of service that coroners should meet. It also explains what someone can do if they feel those standards are not met. There is also a short guide to Coroner investigations that summarises the main elements of the coroner investigation process. (24 February 2014)

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

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Delivery of Services

RSA: Managing demand – Building future public services: this RSA 2020 Public Services report has been produced in partnership with the LGA, the ESRC, iMPOWER and Collaborate. It builds on the RSA's first report, Beyond Nudge, which argued that local authorities should seek to reduce levels of demand by radically redefining their relationships with citizens, communities and services. This report looks more closely at the potential of demand management to address the challenges facing public services and communities. It also reviews the financial case for demand management, from emerging evidence from small-scale interventions to early findings from ‘whole place’ approaches. While the evidence base is nascent, the report argues that the financial case is strong enough for local authorities to prioritise demand management. (21 February 2014)

RSA: Making the connection – Local post offices as Community Enterprise Hubs: explores how sub-post offices might be able to play a more active role in their local area while simultaneously sustaining and even growing their business, asking how local Post Offices can do more for their communities while also generating much needed revenue. In the context of a new trend in the UK towards the ‘local’, characterised by a growing microbusiness community and the development of community-based approaches to public service reform, it argues that Post Offices are ideally placed to become Community Enterprise Hubs’ that, for instance, provide business support to maker communities but also meet the needs of the UK’s ageing population and isolation among older people. This could involve developing a more entrepreneurial role, changing recruitment practices, developing new measurement tools and even asking existing social enterprises to take on the role of the Post Office. (21 February 2014)

CentreForum: The Post Office – A front for local government: looks at how the Post Office can better partner with local government. The report identifies barriers to providing front office services through the Post Office network and suggests ways that they might be overcome. It finds that the Post Office is in a strong position to fulfil the Front Office Proposition in the form of a basic service offering that that can be made available to local authorities nationwide. As effective partnerships between the Post Office and local authorities develop, there are likely to be opportunities to extend the basic service offering. However, the Front Office Proposition needs to generate savings for the local authority, which means replacing or covering gaps in provision rather than simply complementing existing channels. Owing to the type of the services they provide, districts and single tier authorities are more likely to be interested in the proposition than county councils, some of which perceive that few if any of their services could be provided through Post Office branches. (21 February 2014)

Local Government Innovation Taskforce: The case for change: the Taskforce was set up bu the Leader of the Labour Party to consider how the relationships between all public services, organisations and people could be transformed if they were organised around local areas rather than institutional hierarchies. This report, commissioned for Labour's Policy Review, sets out the findings of the first phase of the Taskforce's Inquiry, detailing the evidence of the impact of local innovations. It sets out the foundations for a future strategy for public services anchored around people and places, not institutional silos. (1 March 2014)

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

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Economic Development

HM Tresury: Thousands of jobs and apprenticeships to get seaside economies and flood affected areas growing: announces that over 50 projects have been awarded a share of £27.7m funding from the Coastal Communities Fund to create jobs and apprenticeships in coastal towns across the country, including areas affected by the recent floods. The Government has also announced that the next round of the Coastal Communities Fund is now open, which will support £64m of projects over the next three years. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2014. (7 March 2014)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Mark Calverley

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DfE: Schools Forums (England) Regulations 2012 – Departmental advice: updated guidance on SI 2012/2261 as amended, which sets out requirements relating to membership of schools forums, their proceedings and the financial issues on which they must be consulted. There is also a marked up version of the amended regulations. (25 February 2014)

DfE: Guidance for schools on female genital mutilation: the Education Secretary has announced plans to send every school in the country guidance on keeping children safe. This will specifically include material that will enable everyone working with young people to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM), including advice on statutory safeguarding duties of teachers and other school staff in relation to FGM and links to external expert advice on specific safeguarding issues from the NSPCC. He will also be writing to all headteachers to draw their attention to the updated schools safeguarding guidance and to reiterate that all teachers should familiarise themselves with it. The guidance will be published before Easter. (25 February 2014)

DfE: Schemes for financing schools: statutory guidance for local authorities on producing and amending school financing schemes, issued under s.48 of, and Sch.14 to, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Local authorities are required to publish schemes for financing schools setting out the financial relationship between them and the schools they maintain. The guidance lists the provisions which a local authority's scheme must, should or may include. In making any changes to their schemes, local authorities must consult all schools in their area and receive the approval of the members of their schools forum representing maintained schools. Local authorities must take this guidance into account when they revise their schemes, in consultation with the schools forum. (26 February 2014)

DfE: The Academy / free school presumption: departmental advice for local authorities and new school proposers on establishing new schools and the qualities that new school proposers must demonstrate. The Education Act 2011 changed the arrangements for establishing new schools and introduced s.6A (the academy / free school presumption), namely that where a local authority thinks there is a need for a new school in its area, it must seek proposals to establish an academy or free school. (28 February 2014)

DfE: Academy admission request form for looked-after children: local authorities have powers to direct a maintained school to admit a looked-after child, but not an academy. If they consider that an academy would best meet the needs of a child and the academy refuses to admit,  the local authority can apply to the Education Funding Agency (EFA), acting on behalf of the sectretary of State, to consider a request to direct an academy to admit a child. This form gives details of all the information that the EFA requires to consider a request to direct admission of a looked-after child to an academy. It should be used in conjunction with the the School Admissions Code. Directions should only be considered as a last resort. (28 February 2014)

DfE: Universal infant free school meals: this departmental advice to maintained schools, academies and free schools sets out how the Government will support schools in implementing its policy that all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be entitled to a free school meal from September 2014. It provides information on eligibility, food standards and funding, along with details of the implementation support available for schools and the impact of the policy on the pupil premium. (6 March 2014)

DfE: Revised standards for food in schools: seeks views on proposed changes to school food standards, to be made statutory from January 2015. The new standards will be simplified and manageable, focusing on tasty healthy meals for all children. The consultation closes on 16 April 2014. (6 March 2014)

DfE: Studio schools in 2015 and beyond –  How to apply: studio schools offer academic and vocational qualifications and teach them in a practical and project-based way, combining study and work placements with local and national employers. This guidance is for groups who would like to establish a studio school in line with the model established and promoted by the Studio Schools Trust. The closing date for applications for studio schools opening in September 2015 is 9 May 2014. (7 March 2014)

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

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Electoral Services

Draft Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014: these draft regulations, which are due to come into force on 6 April 2014, amend SI 2012/323 regarding the rules for conducting referendums relating to the governance arrangements of local authorities. They apply changes that have been or are to be made to the legislation relating to the administration of parliamentary and local government elections. (24 February 2014)

Draft Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (Council Tax Increases) (England) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2014: these draft regulations, which are due to come into force on 6 April 2014, amend SI 2012/444 regarding the rules for conducting referendums relating to increases in council tax. They apply changes that have been or are to be made to the legislation relating to the administration of parliamentary and local government elections. (24 February 2014)

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

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Environmental Health

DEFRA: Water quality information at swimming beaches and lakes: guidance for local authorites on their duty to display information on water quality and pollution. (27 February 2014)

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

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Localism Act 2011 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2014 (SI 2014/389): the Localism Act 2011 inserted a new Chapter 4ZA into the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA) to provide for council tax referendums to be held if an authority increases its relevant basic amount of council tax in excess of the principles. Sections 73 to 79 of the Localism Act 2011 made amendments to the calculations which billing authorities, major precepting authorities and local precepting authorities in England must make to determine their basic amounts of council tax for a financial year. This Order, which has effect in relation to financial years beginning on or after 1 April 2014, makes a number of amendments to the LGFA and the Greater London Authority Act 1999 concerning the calculation of council tax in consequence of these amendments. (24 February 2014)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (2014/448): these regulations, which come into force on 28 March 2014, amend SI 2012/2885, which provides for localised council tax reduction schemes that replaced council tax benefit on 1 April 2013, so as to correct errors in relation to the uprating of two of the figures relied on to calculate the “applicable amount” in relation to an applicant for a council tax reduction. (5 March 2014)

Draft Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) (Amendment) (Wales) Order 2014: this draft Order, once in force, amends SI 1996/1880 to ensure that certain functions relating to the administration and enforcement of council tax can continue to be contracted out by a billing authority in Wales following the making of the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3029 (W.301)) and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Scheme) (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3035 (W.303)). (25 February 2014)

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

DCLG: Fire and Rescue Authority Transformation Funds for 2015 to 2016 – Bids: invites Fire and Rescue Authorities to bid for a share of £75m Fire Transformation Funds, consisting of £30m of Resource Funding and a £45m Capital Fire Efficiency Incentive Fund to support transformational change and deliver sensible savings, such as creating more emergency centres to accommodate the three blue light services, sharing back office functions and greater collaboration with other emergency services. The closing dates are 30 May 2014 for fire and rescue authority bids and 13 June 2014 for bids with more than two fire and rescue authorities (syndicated bids). The funds applied for must relate to expenditure incurred in 2015/16, delivering efficiencies within 10 years. Successful bidders will be announced in early autumn 2014 and grant funding will be payable in April 2015. (6 March 2014)

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

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Draft Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Power to Require Information) (England) Regulations 2014: these regulations, once in force, provide for investigations into social housing fraud offences, such as making fraudulent applications for social housing or unlawfully subletting social housing. They enable local authorities to require the provision of information in relation to those offences. They also create offences and enable penalties to be imposed in connection with these requests for data. (24 February 2014)

DCLG: Housing standards in the private rented sector: this letter from the Housing Minister Kris Hopkins to local housing authority leaders in East and SE London, Greater Manchester and East Sussex, highlights concerns raised about some people in those authorities' areas being rehoused in private rented properties that were of very poor quality and had significant defects. The Minister calls on all authorities to make full use of their new powers under the Localism Act 2011 to use good-quality private rented sector accommodation to meet the main homelessness duty, and to help to drive up the standard of privately rented accommodation. (28 February 2014)
The letter refers to the Shelter / Crisis report A roof over my head which tracked the experiences and wellbeing of 128 people who had been rehoused in the private rented sector following a period of homelessness.

DCLG: Future funding of the Housing Ombudsman – Analysis of consultation responses: in December 2013 the Government consulted on proposal to extend the Housing Ombudsman’s existing fee charging model to local authority landlords from April 2014. This paper sets out how the Government proposes to rpoceed with this proposal in light of the responses received. (4 March 2014)

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

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Powers and Duties

DCLG: Temporarily removing restrictions on the use of the Stray, Harrogate, imposed by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, to facilitate Harrogate Borough Council hosting the Tour de France 2014 – Explanatory document: s.5 of the Localism Act 2011 provides that the Secretary of State (SoS) may, if he thinks that a statutory provision prevents or restricts local authorities from exercising the General Power of Competence (GPoC), and if certain statutory conditions are met and if Parliament approves, make an Order to amend, repeal, revoke or disapply that provision. This document sets out the Government's response to Harrogate BC's proposal to enable it to use the GPoC in hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 and request that the SoS use his powers under s.5(1) to disapply parts of the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 from 23 June to 8 July 2014 for defined areas of the Stray for the sole purpose of hosting the Tour de France. This document states that, following consultation and consideration of the statutory conditions, the SoS has decided that several parts of the 1985 Act do prevent or restrict Harrogate BC from exercising the GPoC in hosting the Tour de France. He has therefore used his powers under s.5(1) to lay before Parliament a draft Harrogate Stray Act 1985 (Tour de France) Order 2014  to disapply or amend parts of the 1985 Act, as requested. The explanatory document includes the Government response to the consultation and the consideration of the statutory conditions. (4 March 2014)

Barco de Vapor BV v Thanet DC [2014] EWHC 490 (Ch) (Ch D): the court has held that Thanet DC did not have the authority to impose a ban on the shipment of livestock from the port of Ramsgate, and that the Council was liable to pay damages to the claimants.
The ban was imposed under s.40 of the Harbours Act 1964 (conditions as to use of harbour services and facilities provided by certain harbour authorities) and prevented the claimants, who were engaged in the export of live animals from the UK to continental Europe, from using the port to export livestock. The claimants claimed damages for their losses arising from the imposition of the ban. The court held that the ban was a restriction on the export of goods and had been imposed on animal welfare grounds. Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport did not give the Council power to do this, so the breach of Art.35 of the TFEU could not be justified. It was a disproportionate decision reached in haste without separate legal advice and breached a fundamental element of the rules governing free trade in the EU. The Council, as harbour authority, had the power to regulate safety at the port but that power could not be used as a Trojan horse to achieve other purposes. If live animals could be lawfully shipped through a port, then s.40 of the 1964 Act did not give the Council power to impose further conditions based on animal welfare which had the effect of prohibiting that category of shipment. The port could not use s.40 to act in a manner inconsistent with either s.33 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847 (harbour, dock, and pier free to the public on payment of rate) or EU law. (27 February 2014)

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

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Crown Commercial Service: Contracting for value - Model services contract: the Crown Commercial Service and the Government Legal Service have developed a revised set of model terms and conditions for major services contracts with a value over £10m; it replaces the out-of-date OGC Model ICT Contract version 2.3 and reflects current Government priorities and recommended ways of doing business. The model is suitable for use with the range of business services that Government purchases and in particular contains applicable provisions for contracts for Business Process Outsourcing and/or IT delivery services. (4 March 2014) 

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

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Public Health

DH: Public health services non mandatory contract: this updated Public Health Services Contract and guidance for 2014/15 may be used by local authorities when commissioning services to deliver their new public health functions. There is also updated guidance on the 2014/15 contract. (28 February 2014) 

Centre for Public Scrutiny: Checking the nation's health – The value of council scrutiny: NHS Health Check is a national illness prevention programme to identify people ‘at risk’ of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease or vascular dementia. The NHS Health Check implementation review and action plan, led by Public Health England, identified the need for greater consistency of delivery, new governance structures and evaluation as well as the importance of data flows across the health and social care system. This report contains five case studies illustrating local areas' scrutiny reviews of their local NHS Health Check programmes. It provides a process for how local areas can undertake their reviews of local NHS Health Check programmes. (26 February 2014)
NICE has issued a briefing for local authorities on Encouraging people to have NHS Health Checks and supporting them to reduce risk factors, which summarises its recommendations for local authorities and partner organisations that could be used to encourage people to have NHS Health Checks and support them to change their behaviour after the NHS Health Check and reduce their risk factors. It is particularly relevant to health and wellbeing boards.

HC Health Select Committee: Public Health England: sets out the findings of the Committee's inquiry into how Public Health England (PHE) has set about establishing its policy priorities and programme of work. The Committee concludes that Parliament created PHE as an independent voice within Government to champion the policies that will make the greatest difference to the nation’s health but the organisation has not yet developed a clear set of priorities: "Tackling alcohol misuse, smoking and the crisis of obesity are fundamental to improving the nation’s health, but PHE has yet to strike the right tone when addressing these issues. Its public comments have often been faltering and uncertain when they should have been clear and unequivocal." The Committee is concerned that there is insufficient separation between PHE and the DH, and there is an urgent need for this relationship to be clarified and for PHE to demonstrate that it is genuinely able to ‘speak truth unto power’. It notes, however, that the transition from the old public health arrangements and the creation of PHE was undertaken successfully. (26 February 2014)

NICE: Domestic violence and abuse – How health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively: this guidance aims to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse. It outlines how health services and social care can watch out for domestic violence, and act alongside specialist services to support the women experiencing it. (26 February 2014)

NHS Confederation: Violence and health and wellbeing boards – A practical guide for health and wellbeing boards: this guide provides practical information and guidance on the significant role that HWBs can play in preventing and tackling violence, in collaboration with community safety partnerships and other local partners. (25 February 2014)

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: Fees under the Licensing Act 2003: seeks views on details of the move from centrally-set to locally-set fees under the Licensing Act 2003. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 amended the 2003 Act to introduce a power for the Home Secretary to prescribe that future fee levels should be set by individual licensing authorities to enable them to recover their licensing costs. The paper discusses: whether and under what circumstances licensing authorities should be able to charge different amounts to different types of premises; the maximum amount that can be charged; the mechanisms that will provide reassurance to fee-payers that fees are being set transparently, at cost, and efficiency encouraged; and whether there should be a single national payment date for annual fees. The accompanying impact assessment estimates the change in fee payments that will result from fees being set locally, including an estimate of the costs for licensing authorities of the duty to set fees. The consultation closes on 10 April 2014. (13 February 2014)

DCLG: Mobile Homes Act 2013 – A guide for local authorities on setting licence fees: from 1 April 2014, local authorities will be able to charge fees for issuing, transferring, or altering conditions in a site licence. Authorities will also be able to charge fees for the administration and monitoring of site licences. This guidance sets out advice on matters that a local authority can and cannot take into account when setting fees, setting fee structures and how fees are to be calculated. (1 March 2014) 
See also the Mobile Homes (Site Licensing) (England) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/442).

DCLG: Mobile Homes Act 2013 – New licensing enforcement tools: a guide for park home site owners: the Mobile Homes Act 2013 introduces changes to the procedures and penalties for enforcement of site licence conditions on residential parks from 1 April 2014. It gives local authorities effective enforcement powers to require works to be carried out to remedy poor conditions on park home sites and, where there is non-compliance, to impose large fines in the courts. The Act also put in place safeguards for site owners to ensure local authorities’ actions and demands are reasonable and proportionate by providing a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). This advice, which is aimed at park owners, explains local authorities' new licensing powers. (1 March 2014)

Luton BC v Zeb (Unreported, Admin Ct): the High Court has upheld the Crown Court's decision ordering the Council to pay costs to the respondent taxi driver, Z.
The Council suspended Z's licence after receiving complaints concerning his driving. The most serious complaint was of verbal abuse and attempted sexual assault. Z appealed against the suspension but none of the complainants attended the court hearing. The Crown Court found that, although the Council's initial decision had been made honestly, reasonably and on grounds that appeared to be sound in the exercise of its public duty, once the most important witness had failed to attend it should have considered withdrawing its decision to suspend Z's licence. It also concluded that Z had suffered substantial financial hardship and that in balancing the public interest, including the need for public authorities not to be discouraged from performing public functions, against the hardship Z faced, the default position of no order for costs should be departed from and that costs should be ordered as a matter of principle.
The Admin Court held, dismissing the Council's appeal, that the Crown Court's decision could not be criticised. Whilst the Council's original decision to suspend Z's licence could not be criticised given the nature of the complaints, the Council should have realised that this original decision was unsustainable in light of the witnesses' unwillingness to attend court. (25 February 2014)
The judgment is available from Lawtel (subscription required).

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: Simplifying the process for revising tolls at local tolled crossings: seeks views on proposals to amend the legislation governing the method by which local statutory toll operators can vary their tolls. The proposals only apply to the 11 local statutory tolled undertakings that are required to use the procedures set out in the Transport Charges &c. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1954 to increase their tolls. The Government's preferred option is a simplified procedure for increases in tolls which are no greater than inflation -1%, so providing an incentive for the crossing operators to keep any increases in tolls below this level. The consultation closes on 10 April 2014. (27 February 2014)

DCMS: Proposal to authorise motor sport events on public roads: seeks views on a proposal to permit motor sports events, including stage rallies, hill climbs and trials of speed, on public roads in certain circumstances. Under the proposal, local authorities would have power to suspend speed limits and associated traffic regulations in certain conditions. The consultation closes on 10 April 2014.(27 February 2014).

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

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