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 the two weeks up to 4 April 2014. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

04/04/2014

Claire Booth

Claire Booth

Professional Support Lawyer

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    Licensing
   Children's Services    Maladministration
   Delivery of Services    Parish Councils
   Development Control    Police
   Economic Development    Ports and Harbours
   Education    Public Health
   Finance    Publicity
   Flood Protection    Rating
   Governance    Regulatory Services
   Housing    Social Enterprises
   Judicial Review

 

Adult Social Services

Contracting Out (Local Authorities Social Services Functions) (England) Order 2014 (SI 2014/829): this Order, which comes into force on 1 April 2014, allows local authorities to contract specified adult social services functions to third parties after the Social Work Practices pilot scheme (SWP) comes to an end on 31 March 2014. It allows the local authorities currently contracting out functions in the SWP to continue such arrangements lawfully until the implementation of the Care Bill; it also extends such powers to other English local authorities. It allows for delegation of specified social services functions so that SWPs can continue, and to match the equivalent functions which will be able to be delegated under the Care Bill. (26 March 2014)

Nuffield Trust: Focus on social care for older people: this report from the Nuffield Trust's and Health Foundation's QualityWatch programme examines the scale and scope of cuts to social services for older people in England from 2009/10 to 2012/13. It reveals that most local authorities are tightly rationing social care for the over-65s in response to cuts, resulting in significant drops in the number of people receiving services like home-delivered meals and day care. The study seeks to assess the impact of social care cuts on the health and well being of older people and their carers, but finds that, due to a lack of available data, it is not possible to quantify this. It warns that the NHS and Government are 'flying blind' in planning services for vulnerable older people because there is no comprehensive way to quantify the impact that social care cuts are having on their health and wellbeing. (26 March 2014)

DH: A commitment to care: the Health Minister Norman Lamb has pledged his and the DH’s full support for the Social Care Commitment, which is a sector led initiative that focuses on improving workforce quality, instilling shared values, and driving the highest standards of professional, compassionate behaviour across adult social care. He encourages every employer and every employee working in adult social care to go online and make the Social Care Commitment. (28 March 2014)

The King's Fund: A new settlement for health and social care: this interim report from the independent Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England explains why it believes England needs a single health and social care system, with a ring-fenced, singly commissioned budget, and more closely aligned entitlements. Drawing on accounts from patients and their families, the Commission argues that the current system is no longer fit for purpose. It finds that at the root of the problem is a lack of alignment in funding, organisation and entitlement. The report analyses the historical divides between the two systems, the effects of our ageing society, and issues of affordability, before exploring options for change in meeting the costs ahead. It concludes with a call for responses to these options. (3 April 2014)

DH: Positive and proactive care – reducing the need for restrictive interventions: this guidance provides a framework for adult health and social care services to develop a culture where restrictive interventions are only ever used as a last resort. Restrictive interventions include a range of different approaches that limit an individual’s movement, liberty and/or freedom to act independently. The report identifies actions that will improve people’s quality of life which should then reduce the need for restrictive interventions. It sets out ways to know who is responsible for making these improvements, including effective governance, transparency and monitoring.
There is also a Summary of key actions. (3 April 2014) 

The King's Fund: Accountable care organisations  in the United States and England – Testing, evaluating and learning what works: this report looks at US accountable care organisations (ACOs) – a group of providers that take responsibility for providing all the care for a given population for a specified period of time – and how they have developed to provide a more integrated approach to care. It describes the different types of ACOs emerging in the United States, presents some early evidence on their performance, assesses the future for ACOs and discusses the implication of these developments for integrated care initiatives in England. (27 March 2014)

National Assistance (Sums for Personal Requirements) (Assessment of Resources) and Social Care Charges (Wales) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/666 (W.73)): these regulations, which come into force on 7 April 2014, amend various regulations relating to assessment of resources and charges for social care. In particular, they increase the prescribed amount a person requires for their personal requirements per week to £25, and they increase to £24,000 the maximum amount of capital that a person may have before that person becomes liable to pay for, or contribute from capital towards the cost of any accommodation arranged under Part 3 of the National Assistance Act 1948. (17 March 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

Adoption Agencies (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/567 (W. 68)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 1 April 2014, amend SI 2005/1313 to provide greater flexibility for adoption agencies when constituting an adoption panel, whether on their own or jointly with other adoption agencies. (11 March 2014)

DfE: Childminder agencies and changes to the local authority role: seeks views on changes to the provision of early education and childcare as a result of measures in the Children and Families Act 2014. Part A contains new draft Childcare (Childminder Agencies) Regulations 2014 on setting up childminder agencies, with key requirements for those organisations that wish to set up agencies. Childminder agencies will be able to register childminders and provide them with training, business support, advice, and help to find parents seeking childcare. Part B seeks views on draft Local Authority (Discharge of Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of Charge) Regulations 2014 which make changes to the way local authorities discharge their duty under s.7 of the Childcare Act 2006 to secure early years provision, free of charge, for eligible children in their area. There is also draft statutory guidance. The consultation closes on 22 May 2014.
The Government has also announced that the registration and annual fee for childminders is to be frozen at £35 pa for early years childminders and £103 pa for later years. (28 March 2014)

NSPCC: How safe are our children? 2014: this report compiles the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across each of the four nations in the UK. It sets out 20 different indicators. Each indicator looks at the question of "how safe are our children?" from a different perspective. It also includes a section summarising the factors that influence a child's risk of abuse or neglect. Its key messages are that insufficient early support services, more families struggling financially and higher thresholds have turned child protection into an emergency service, only able to react to the most serious cases. Safeguarding and protecting children extends far beyond children's social care, into a wide range of services that are provided by public, private and third sector organisations. There needs to be a greater focus on early intervention, with investment up front in stopping families slipping into abusive or neglectful behaviour by focusing on risk factors that influence a child's risk of suffering abuse or neglect. (27 March 2014)

DfE: Looked after children and youth justice – Application of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 to looked after children in contact with youth justice services: this statutory guidance is a supplement to Vol.2 of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations. It provides guidance to local authorities about their functions under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989, which concerns the provision of local authority support for children and families. (3 April 2014) 

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

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Delivery of Services

DCMS: Library comparison reports published: announces that CIPFA has published a comprehensive set of benchmarking reports on local authorities' library services. The profiles will help local authorities identify areas for improvement and also look at what other places are doing in terms of service and good practice. (24 March 2014)

DCLG: £410 million for council services that put people first: announces a package of incentives for local authority shared services and transformation projects, to reward authorities that cut duplication and build services around the needs of local people. The funding includes £90m which will be distributed immediately. (2 April 2014)

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

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Development Control

Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/593 (W.70)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 28 April 2014, prescribe various matters for the purposes of s.108 TCPA 1990 relating to the payment of compensation in certain cases. They provide that when specified permitted development rights are withdrawn by directions under s.108(2A), compensation is only payable in respect of planning applications made within 12 months beginning on the date that the directions took effect. (13 March 2014)

DCLG: Planning performance and planning contributions: seeks views on the speed of decisions on planning applications for major development, and on proposals to clarify the way in which exceptional circumstances affecting performance will be taken into account. The consultation also suggests possible changes to Section 106 planning obligations policy. The consultation closes on 4 May 2014. (23 March 2014) 

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

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Economic Development

Office of the Deputy PM: City Deals: the DPM has signed four more Wave 2 City Deals that see Government give powers to a city in exchange for the city taking on the responsibility of creating economic growth in its area. The new City Deals are:

The DPM has also announced agreements for a Sunderland and South Tyneside City Deal and a Greater Cambridge City Deal.

Centre for Cities: Breaking boundaries – Empowering city growth through cross-border collaboration: this report looks at how budgets and strategies to organise and deliver planning, transport, housing and skills should cross local authority boundaries to reflect the situation that city economies don’t stop at local authority boundaries, with 50 per cent of commuters in cities living and working in different local authorities. It discusses the ways in which different local authorities can better work together, from formal collaborations such as combined authorities to less formal ways of working. It encourages Government to offer incentives in the form of tailored devolution for those councils which do take on formal collaborations so that places can improve services, support economic growth and save money in a way that suits them best. (27 March 2014)

HM Treasury: Supporting public service transformation – Cost benefit analysis guidance for local partnerships: this guidance provides a systematic approach to understanding the costs and benefits of public sector transformation programmes and projects. It is intended for use by local partnerships in order to assess and evaluate public service transformation proposals and to better understand fiscal, economic and public benefits, and how these are apportioned across local and national organisations and communities. (2 April 2014)

DCLG: Combined Authorities Orders: the three draft Orders under Part 6 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, have now been confirmed. They each establish a Combined Authority to exercise transport, economic development and regeneration functions across the specified areas from 1 April 2014:

The Combined Authorities (Consequential Amendments) Order 2014 (SI 2014/866)amends Part 2 of the Transport Act 1968 as a result of the making of these Orders establishing combined authorities. (31 March 2014) 

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

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Education

DfE: New home to school travel and transport guidance: seeks views on revised guidance that has been updated to reflect better the schools system that has developed since 2010. The new guidance aims to reduce prescription and allow greater freedoms for local authorities to develop transport policies that meet the needs of their areas. The guidance also sets out a recommended appeals process that is intended to be both clearer for parents and local authorities, and more independent. The closing dates for comments is 3 June 2014. (25 March 2014)

DfE: Keeping children safe in education – Statutory guidance for schools and colleges: revised statutory guidance setting out what school and college staff should know and do to protect children from maltreatment; prevent impairment of children’s health or development, ensure that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and take action to enable all children to have the best outcomes. It replaces the 2006 guidance 'Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education'. There is also a leaflet for schools and colleges summarising the guidance. (3 April 2014) 

National Assembly for Wales: Education (Wales) Bill: this Bill has passed Stage 4 in the Welsh Assembly and is now in the four week period of intimation prior to Royal Assent. The Bill provides for the Education Workforce Council (formerly the General Teaching Council for Wales); extends the registration, qualification and training requirements of the education workforce; provides for the determination of school term and holiday dates in Wales; and also covers appointments to HM Inspectorate of Education and Training in Wales. (25 March 2014)

School Staffing (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/798): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, amend the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 so that Secretary of State approval is no longer required for the persons who provide safer recruitment training for maintained schools. (26 March 2014)

DfE: Savings to the education services grant for 2015 to 2016: the 2013 Spending Round announced that the Government will reduce the Education Services Grant  (ESG) by around £200m in the 2015/16 financial year. DfE is now seeking views on how local authorities and academies use the education services grant currently and how they can make savings to the services funding by the ESG, and how the DfE can help local authorities and academies to make savings. There is also a list of statutory and regulatory duties included in ESG funded services as described in the s.251 budget statement. The consultation closes on 19 June 2014. (28 March 2014)

DBIS: Government unlocks £194 million of college investment: announces capital funding for 22 FE colleges to invest in new state of the art facilities, as part of the most recent round of the College Capital Investment Fund. The total investment includes £113.8m of government grants matched by £80.5m of local investment. (27 March 2014)

Ofsted: Ofsted chief unveils new blueprint for inspecting good and outstanding schools: the Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has proposed a new way of inspecting most English schools. He argues that those schools currently judged good by Ofsted (60 per cent) should no longer be subject to full routine inspections in the way they are now. Instead, they should receive more frequent, but light-touch visits every two to three years by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors  or a serving school leader working as an associate Ofsted inspector, whose job would be to engage in professional dialogue with senior staff.  A full inspection will only be triggered when inspectors see either steep decline or significant improvement in a good school. Ofsted and DfE will develop the detail of these proposals over the next 18 months. (21 March 2014)

DfE: Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (from 1 September 2014): this revised framework sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well, ensures children are kept healthy and safe and ensures that children have the knowledge and skills they need to start school. It replaces the EYFS framework 2012 from September 2014. (31 March 2014)

Haining v Warrington BC [2014] EWCA Civ 398 (CA): this case considered the interpretation of "public expenditure" in s.9 of the Education Act 1996 when applying the general principle that pupils were to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents: whether this meant expenditure incurred by local authorities in discharging their functions under the Education Acts as defined in s.573 of the 1996 Act ("education functions") (the narrow meaning); or meant expenditure incurred by any public authority as a result of the discharge by the local authority of the education functions (the wider meaning).
B was a 12 year old boy with special educational needs. His parents wanted him to attend W School, an independent residential special school; the Council said that he should go to G School, a maintained day special school. The total figure for a place at W School was £92,900 and the total figure for a place at G School was £90,441. The main differences between the figures were that (i) the school costs for W School were £33,448 and the school costs for G School were £61,238; and (ii) the cost of a placement at G School included £29,336 for boarder/respite fees, whereas there was no such cost in respect of W School. The Council accepted that if B attended G School as a day pupil, it would also provide him with residential respite care, which it currently provided for him at W School. The Council made a Statement of Special Educational Needs in respect of B naming G School. The FTT dismissed B's parents' appeal, concluding that a placement at W School was much more expensive than a placement at G School, would be over-provision, and could not be justified on educational grounds. The Upper Tribunal directed a re-hearing as the FTT might have erred in its analysis of what constituted "public expenditure" in s.9. It then dismissed the appeal. B's parents appealed, contending that in comparing the cost of placements at the two schools, the Council (and on appeal the FTT and the UT) should have left out of account respite care and other costs that were to be met from public expenditure, and limited the comparison to the costs that were to be met from its education budget.
The court held, allowing the appeal, that the correct meaning of "public expenditure" in s.9 was expenditure incurred by a public body, as opposed to "private expenditure", i.e. expenditure incurred by a private body. A natural reading of s.9 clearly supported the wider interpretation. The explicit purpose of the qualification to the s.9 duty was to avoid unreasonable public expenditure. There was no reason why Parliament would regarded it as unacceptable for a local authority to accede to a parent's preference if it would involve unreasonable expenditure in the discharge of its education functions, but acceptable if it would involve unreasonable expenditure in the discharge of any other functions of the local authority (or any other authority). In many cases, the only relevant public expenditure would be expenditure incurred by the local authority discharging its education functions. But this was a more complicated case: although all the relevant public expenditure would be incurred by the same local authority, it involved substantial respite care fees. The judge had erred in holding that, for the purposes of s.9, the FTT was entitled to leave out of account "the respite and other costs that were met from public expenditure but were not met from the education budget of the Council". If those costs were not left out of account, then the cost to the public purse of placing B at W School (£61,238) was lower than the cost of placing him at G School (£33,448). It was impossible to say that, if the judge had directed himself correctly, he would have reached the same conclusion as he did. The matter would be remitted to the FTT for reconsideration. (2 April 2014)

Mulla v Hackney Learning Trust [2014] EWCA Civ 397 (CA): M appealed against the Upper Tribunal's decision to uphold Hackney's refusal of her request under Sch.27 para.8(2) to the Education Act 1996 to change the school named in her son's Statement of Special Needs from X School, a special school maintained by Hackney LBC, to Y School, a special school maintained by Islington LBC. M's daughter was already at Y School. Hackney had calculated that the additional costs of acceding to M's request were £26,000 pa, because if M's son (S) were to attend Y School, Islington would recoup the cost of his place from Hackney, together with an additional administration charge. The tribunal found that there was no educational need to move S, and that the social and practical factors put forward by M did not outweigh the very considerable additional expense that would be incurred by Hackney if S were to be placed at Y School. M argued that if the tribunal had properly taken account of s.9 of the 1996 Act, which set out the general principle that pupils were to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, they would have found that little or no additional public expenditure would have been incurred by placing S at Y School.
The court held, allowing M's appeal, that s.9 was engaged by virtue of s.324(4)(b), which gave the authority power to specify the school in the statement. There was no basis for saying that s.324(4) might be invoked where there was no duty to comply with parental wishes under para.3(3), but might not be invoked where there was no duty to comply with parental wishes under para.8(2). There was no practical difference between these obligations. The way in which the authority complied with the parental request under para.8(2) was to "specify" the substituted named school in the statement. It was difficult to see why there should be a difference as regards the applicability of s.324(4) (and therefore also of s.9) between the two cases. In exercising the s.324(4)(b) power, the FTT should have considered the financial impact on both Hackney and Islington of placing S at Y School. That exercise was not undertaken by the FTT or indeed by Hackney. The court could not say what the outcome of such an exercise would have been. The decision of the Upper Tribunal would therefore be quashed and the matter remitted to the FTT for reconsideration. (2 April 2014)

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

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Finance

Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) (Amendment) (Wales) Order 2014 (SI 2014/856): this Order, which comes into force on 28 March 2014, amends SI 1996/1880 to enable billing authorities in Wales to authorise contractors to exercise additional functions relating to council tax. The additional functions include: giving notification of a decision about an application for a reduction of council tax; payment of a reduction; and collection of penalties under the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (Wales) Regulations 2013. (27 March 2014)

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

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Flood Protection

DEFRA: Flooding and coastal change – Repair and Renew grant scheme opens today: announces that people whose homes and businesses were flooded between 1 December and 31 March can now apply for a government grant of up to £5,000 through their local authority, regardless of where they live. The grant will help people with the cost of buying and installing new measures to reduce the chances of flooding in the first place, or limit the damage should they be flooded in the future. Owners who have already fitted new measures following this winter’s flooding can apply for a grant retrospectively. (1 April 2014)

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

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Governance

Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/476 (W.56)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 1 May 2014, amend SI 1990/1553 relating to the exception to the rules of political balance that apply to local authority committees and sub-committees. They insert a new reg.16AA with an exception for area committees that applies where a committee or sub-committee is established exclusively to discharge functions or to advise in respect of part of the authority's area that does not exceed one-half of the authority's total area or of its total population. (5 March 2014)

LGA: No overall control – Learning further lessons from councils without a majority administration: presents a number of case studies of councils that have moved to a No Overall Control situation. It captures the experiences of leading members and chief executives and passes on the lessons they have learnt. (25 March 2014)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Review of the role of local housing authorities in housing supply: this Call for Evidence seeks ideas and good practice into how local authorities can help to increase housing supply in order to meet local housing need. The independent review, led by Natalie Elphicke and Keith House, will examine how councils are using their current powers and flexibilities to deliver new housing, and how they could team up with housing associations, house builders, residents and businesses to do more. The closing date for submissions is 23 May 2014. (25 March 2014)

Islington LBC v Mayor of London; Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Interested Party) [2014] EWHC 751 (Admin) (Admin Ct): nine LBCs applied for judicial review of the Mayor's decison to publish changes to his spatial development stategy, the London Plan, that precluded them from imposing borough-wide caps on rent for affordable rented housing. The LBCs applied under s.113(3) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, on the grounds that the Mayor had exceeded his powers. They argued that if affordable rents were set at or close to 80% of market rent, the properties would not be affordable for a large proportion of the eligible households, who had low incomes or were on benefits and subject to the benefits cap. They submitted that the Mayor's aim of achieving a 65% of market rent average would not be realisable or enforceable, and that the restrictions on imposing rent caps in local policies would prevent them from meeting the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) because they would be unable to meet objectively assessed housing needs.
The court held, refusing the application, that the real issue was a profound disagreement between the LBCs and the Mayor about economics, planning and housing policy. All parties agreed that more affordable rented housing was needed in London, at levels below 80% of market value, but they disagreed about how best to realise this aim. The Mayor was exercising his statutory powers to make a series of policy and planning judgements in deciding upon the content of the changes; these did not disclose any error of law. The London Plan took precedence over the LBCs' development plan documents on matters of strategic significance. Where there was a policy conflict, the Mayor' strategy, as expressed in the London Plan, could lawfully prevail. The LBCs had failed to establish that the Mayor's strategy was contrary to the NPPF, nor was the strategy so misguided or flawed that it would effectively prevent the LBCs from making appropriate provision for affordable rented housing. It was not the court's role to decide upon the respective merits of the conflicting views of the parties on how best to implement the objectives of the NPPF - these were policy issues. The judge was satisfied that the Mayor's strategy was not contrary to the terms of the NPPF or otherwise unlawful. (25 March 2014)

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

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Judicial Review

MoJ: Court fees – Proposals for reform: Part One consultation response – Cost recovery:  in December 2013 the MoJ consulted on proposals for reform of court fees, including fees for judicial review. The consultation was in two parts: Part 1 set out proposals to recover close to the full cost of the civil court system through fees, transferring more of the cost to the user and reducing the cost to the general taxpayer; Part 2 proposed setting some fees above cost to better reflect the value of those proceedings to the court user. This document sets out the Government’s response to the cost recovery proposals set out in Part 1. It states that the Government will increase fees for judicial review to full-cost levels: from £60 to £140 for an application and £215 to £700 for a hearing. £350 will be charged for an oral renewal, with a further £350 charged if permission is granted and the case proceeds to a hearing, rather than the full £700 hearing fee.
The MoJ will publish its response to the enhanced charging proposals set out in Part 2 of the consultation in due course. (1 April 2014)

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

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Licensing

Home Office: Personal alcohol licences – Enabling targeted, local alternatives: Government response to the consultation: sets out the Government's response to the September 2013 consultation that proposed enabling targeted, local alternatives to personal licences. In light of responses received, the Government has decided not to proceed with the proposal to abolish the system of personal licences. Instead, it will maintain an on-going, open dialogue with its partners and ensure that any proposed changes to alcohol licensing continue to strike a balance between removing unnecessary bureaucracy for responsible businesses but maintaining important safeguards. (24 March 2014) 

Home Office: The relaxation of licensing hours during the FIFA World Cup, 2014 – Government response to the consultation: sets out the Government's response to the recent brief consultation on whether to relax licensing hours during the FIFA World Cup in June and July 2014 to mark England’s participation in the tournament. In light of the responses, the Government has decided to proceed with the proposal. The relaxation will apply in England during England matches in the World Cup with a scheduled kick off time of 8pm or later. It will be for the sale of alcohol and late night refreshment for consumption on the premises. The relaxation will last four hours, to a latest time of 1am. (31 March 2014)

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

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Maladministration

R (Nestwood Homes Developments Ltd) v South Holland DC [2014] EWHC 863 (Admin) (Admin Ct): NH, a housing developer, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to pay £50,000 compensation to NH, instead of the LGO's recommended £250,000 compensation. The LGO had found serious maladministration by the Council in relation to NH's development of a site, and it recommended that the Council should issue and publish an apology and make a compensation payment of £208,053 plus interest. The Council initially rejected the LGO's findings and the recommendations, but later decided to accept the findings, offer a sincere apology to NH and make an overall payment of £50,000, as this would strike an appropriate balance between the seriousness of the injustice suffered and the affordability for the Council. NH applied for judicial review, contending that the Council, in making its decision, had given excessive weight to the issue of the affordability of a payment that was in line with the LGO's recommendations and its impact on the Council's finances and had failed to take relevant considerations properly into account; it also submitted that the decision was unfair, irrational and showed evidence of pre-determination. 
The court held, refusing the application, that the Council had not behaved irrationally or unlawfully in weighing the competing factors as it did. The relevant legal test was a rationality test, albeit conditioned by the findings made by the LGO. The findings of serious maladministration, injustice and loss reduced the range of legitimate rational decisions lawfully available to the Council, but did not eliminate all discretion in deciding what to do. Affordability and the impact upon the Council and the services it could provide of making a compensation payment were lawful relevant considerations for the Council to take into account. Although a payment of £50,000 plus interest was well below what the LGO had recommended, it was not insignificant; nor did it indicate that the Council had failed to take the LGO's findings and recommendation with the full seriousness they merited. The council had acted within the law. (25 March 2014)

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

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Parish Councils

DCLG: Consultation on a proposal to use a Legislative Reform Order for making it easier to set up a town and parish council: seeks views on a proposal to use a Legislative Reform Order to amend the current legislation in the Local Govnment and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 governing the setting up of new town and parish councils. The changes will reduce the restrictions that can prevent or hinder local communities from requesting a local authority to carry out a Community Governance Review. These measures will remove the burdensome elements of the current process, making it easier for local communities and campaigners alike to take the first steps towards setting up a town or parish council. The consultation closes on 22 May 2014. (27 March 2014) 

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

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Police

Home Office: Accountability system statement for policing and crime reduction: this revised document sets out the accountability system for policing and crime reduction for the Home Office Accounting Officer. Accounting Officers are accountable to Parliament for the proper stewardship of the resources allocated to their department. This statement sets out the accountability system for policing and crime reduction for the financial year 2014-15. It gives details of current funding systems, legislation and guidance which forms the system at present, and it signposts changes which are expected to be made during the year. (2 April 2014)

Home Office: Damian Green's speech to Police Innovation Fund bidders' event: transcript of the Policing Minister's speech, outlining his vision of digital policing for 2016. The speech was given at an event for police forces who are developing bids for the £50m Police Innovation Fund. He focuses on new approaches to delivering policing, including collaboration on operational and organisational support services, joint working between the police, local authorities, fire service and other blue light services, and developing online and digital services.(1 April 2014)
The deadline for submitting bids to the Police Innovation Fund is 30 April 2014.

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

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Ports and Harbours

R (Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd and Great Yarmouth Port Authority) v Marine Management Organisation; Bourne Leisure (Hopton) Ltd (Interested Party) [2014] EWHC 833 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the port company and port authority (GY) applied for judicial review of the MMO's decision not to make a Harbour Revision Order in respect of the port of Great Yarmouth. The MMO stated that it was not satisfied that the making of the Order was desirable in the interests of the improvement, maintenance or management of the harbour in an efficient and economical manner, under the test in s.14(2)(b) of the Harbours Act 1964. GY contended that s.14 did not confer a residual discretion to refuse to make an order where the conditions in subs.(1) & (2)(a) were satisfied. They argued that "may" in the opening wording of s.14(1) did not mean that the MMO had a wide-ranging discretion as to whether or not an order should be made; it simply meant that the MMO had the power to make it.
The court held, refusing the application, that the statutory language "may" meant that the MMO had a discretionary power, not a duty. That discretion could only be exercised if certain pre-conditions were met, and was subject to ordinary public law principles, but otherwise the MMO had a discretion which it could exercise, and it was not confined in the course it could take. (24 March 2014)

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

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Public Health

DH: Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer: Surveillance Volume, 2012: On the state of the public’s health: in her latest annual report, the Chief Medical Officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, looks at some of the big issues she identified in her last surveillance report. She has invited experts to examine these issues in detail and explore them further. As well as presenting data and evidence, the CMO also comments on overarching trends. This year, she highlights concerns that being overweight is becoming normal as the majority of the adult population is overweight or obese. Her concern is based on data showing that, taking into account average height and weight, the average man and woman in England is overweight. This brings with it an increased risk of diabetes, strokes and other health problems. The report highlights studies that show some people who are overweight believe they are ‘about the right weight’. Other key areas of concern are: deafness and blindness and dementia; alcohol; and walking and cycling. (27 March 2014)

BMJ: Raiding the public health budget: the BMJ claims that an investigation reveals that local authorities across England are diverting ringfenced funds for public health to wider council services to plug gaps caused by government budget cuts, and that public health staffing in some parts of the country is being scaled back to save money. But the BBC reports that the LGA has said that the report was "scaremongering".

DH: Maximising the school nursing team contribution to the public health of school-aged children – Guidance to support the commissioning of public health provision for school aged children 5-19: this guidance provides a framework for local providers  and commissioners of school nursing services. It sets out the core school nurse offer and the innovative ways that school nursing services can be commissioned and developed to meet local need to ensure effective, seamless delivery of public health for school-aged children and young people. DH is also developing a series of joint local briefings with the LGA that help senior officers and lead members embed this guidance into local commissioning. (31 March 2014)

Welsh Government: Listening to you – Your health matters: Consultation on proposals for a Public Health Bill: this Public Health White Paper seeks views on a series of proposals for legislation to further improve and protect people’s health and wellbeing in Wales. The proposals provide a set of practical actions which aim to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing in Wales. The consultation follows on from the 2012 Green Paper that looked at the need for a Public Health Bill, which showed broad support for legislation to further improve health and wellbeing. This White Paper outlines how how the Welsh Government will take steps to:

  • improve health over the life course through proposals to address the important public health issues of tobacco, alcohol misuse and obesity;
  • build community assets for health through proposals to strengthen the role of Local Health Boards when planning and delivering pharmaceutical services, and to improve provision and access to toilets for public use; and
  • improve the regulation of certain types of procedures such as cosmetic piercing and tattooing.

The closing date for comments is 24 June 2014. (2 April 2014)

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

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Publicity

DCLG: Code of practice on local authority publicity – Letter to chief executives: DCLG has written to all English local authority chief executives, advising them that the Communities Secretary intends, as soon as practicable, to exercise his new power to direct one or more specified local authorities to comply with the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity, now that it has come into force. Section 39 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 inserts a new s.4A into the Local Government Act 1986 which provides a power for the Secretary of State to direct one or more specified local authorities in England to comply with the Publicity Code. This came into force on 30 March 2014.
DCLG has also published a collection of all letters sent to local authorities about the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and compliance with the Publicity Code. Each letter advises the authority that it may not be complying with the Code, and asks it to take steps to ensure that it is in compete compliance with the provisions of the Code. (1 April 2014)

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

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Rating

Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/822): these regulations, which come into force on 27 March 2014, amend SI 2013/737 which form part of the scheme for local retention of non-domestic rates. They specify how the business rates baseline and baseline funding level of pools is to be calculated, allowing pools to be removed from the table in Sch.2. They also make a number of changes to the calculation of retained rates income to ensure proper treatment of certain rate reliefs. (26 March 2014)

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

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Regulatory Services

Mobile Homes Act 2013 (Commencement and Saving Provision) (England) Order 2014 (SI 2014/816). This Order brings ss.13 and 14 of the Mobile Homes Act 2013 into force on 1 April 2014. The sections increase penalties for certain offences under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, and provide that in certain circumstances, an officer of body corporate may be found guilty of an offence under the 1960 Act as well as the body corporate. (25 March 2014)

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

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Social Enterprises

Welsh Government: Have your say on the future of co-operatives and mutual in Wales: the Wales Co-operative Centre is running a consultation on the potential of cooperatives and mutuals to create jobs and wealth in Wales. It follows on from the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission's report (February 2014) that set out 25 recommendations on creating a culture and environment in which cooperative ways of doing business are the norm, not the exception. The closing date for responses is 15 April 2014.  (25 March 2014)

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

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