Authority Update 2/12/16

Brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work


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: 


   Access to Information     Finance
   Business Rates    Governance
   Children's Services    Health and Safety
   Delivery of Services    Health and Social Care
   Development Control    Housing
   Devolution and Combined Authorities    Human Rights
   Economic Development     Libraries
   Education    Officers
   Emergency Planning    Procurement
   Employment    Regulatory Services
   European Union    Traffic and Transport


Access to Information

Local Audit (Public Access to Documents) Bill: this Private Member's Bill has been introduced into the Commons by Wendy Morton MP and received its 2nd Reading. The Bill amends s.26 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 to provide journalists with the same rights to inspect and to make copies of local authority accounts under s.26(1) of the Act as local electors do under s.25. The Bill aims to enable a journalist to have access to the accounting records of a local authority where he or she is not a local elector, so giving the journalist access to facts that will help that journalist hold that local authority to account and, by publishing their findings, give local electors information that would better enable them to hold their local authority to account. (25 November 2016)

Investigatory Powers Act 2016: this Act has received Royal Assent. It consolidates and updates existing powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies to gather and access electronic communications, while radically overhauling how they are authorised and overseen. It also creates one new power: the introduction of Internet Connection Records, which will be accessible by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorist attacks and prosecute suspects. It also introduces a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner, to oversee how the powers are used, and new protections for journalistic and legally privileged material, with a requirement for judicial authorisation for acquisition of communications data that identify journalists’ sources.  Most of the Act comes into force on a day, or days, to be appointed. The Home Office is developing plans for implementing the provisions in the Act and will set out the timetable in due course. In the meantime, the Government will commence the provisions required to replace the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 which expires on 31 December 2016. (29 November 2016)

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

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Business Rates

DCLG: Consultation on the transitional arrangements for the 2017 business rates revaluation – Summary of responses and Government’s Response: sets out the formal response to the September 2016 consultation on the proposed transitional arrangements to phase in changes in business rate bill as a result of the 2017 business rates revaluation. It states that in order to meet the legal requirement that the transitional relief scheme is revenue neutral, and to continue to support small and medium businesses, the 2017 revaluation will have to provide less relief for large businesses than in 2010. However, based upon the latest data from the Valuation Office Agency, the Government can provide slightly more support than offered at consultation. It sets out details of the revised scheme. (23 November 2016)

DCLG / DCMS: The case for a business rates relief for local newspapers: sets out the Government's response to the July 2015 consultation on the case for a business rates relief to support local newspapers in England as they adapt to new technology and changing circumstances. The responses to the consultation indicated that a relief on business rates bills would generally be welcomed by the industry, and help publishers occupy property in their local areas. As a result, a discount was announced at the March 2016 Budget. Annex A contains guidance to support local authorities in administering the business rate relief for local newspapers. (2 December 2016)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: The potential for developing the capacity and diversity of children’s social care services in England: this independent report by LaingBuisson sets out research findings and options for developing the capacity and diversity of children’s social care services in England. It sets out seven options which it considers could transform the children’s social care sector into one of the leaders in the public sector for commissioning and service innovation. The Government has issued a response to the report, commenting on its work to date that is consistent with these options. (1 December 2016)

DfE: Achieving for Children (AfC) – A review of the establishment of AfC: AfC is a Community Interest Company, jointly owned by Kingston upon Thames RLBC and Richmond LBC, that was set up to deliver children's services across both boroughs. This review outlines the lessons learned from the setting up of Achieving for Children. It identifies the benefits of the organisation as well as ongoing challenges, and draws out insights for other local authorities. (1 December 2016)

Home Office: Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation – procedural information: updated guidance to health and social care professionals and teachers on their duty under s.5B of the Female Genital mutilation Act 2003 to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police. (1 December 2016)

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

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Delivery of Services

Nesta: Wise councils – Insights from the cutting edge of data-driven local government: this report profiles some of the most pioneering uses of data in UK local government. It features eight case studies of councils which have put better use of data at the heart of how they continue to deliver quality services in a harsh financial climate – such as data-informed social workers, open data portals, sensors which tell gritting vans where there is snow and ice, and plastic frogs which record data about damp levels in people’s homes. The councils are: Leeds, Camden, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Kent & Suffolk. There is also a summary paper which sets out in more detail Nesta's ideas for how the sector can get more value from the data it holds. (29 November 2016)

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

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Development Control

DCLG: Improving planning performance – Criteria for designation: ss.62A and 62B TCPA 1990, inserted by s.1 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, allows certain applications for development to be made directly to the Secretary of State, where the local planning authority for the area has been designated for this purpose. These revised criteria and thresholds are to be applied when the Secretary of State considers whether to designate or de-designate local planning authorities. They replace the previous criteria document. The explanatory memorandum explains the changes to the criteria for assessing local planning authority performance. (22 November 2016)

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

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Devolution and Combined Authorities

Centre for Public Scrutiny: Governance and devolution – Charting the way: this report explores some of the common challenges around governance and devolution and how a number of areas have tried to resolve them. It highlights a number of key issues for devolved areas – principally, the need for a clear sense for each local area to understand the rational underpinning devolution, and the existence of a “sequence” for the devolution process, at each point of which a space has to be found for scrutiny by the public and by elected members. It is aimed at those with a responsibility for managing the establishment of a combined authority, for developing detailed governance arrangements on a devolution deal, for overseeing or scrutinising the devolution deal process, and for a wider group of councillors, council officers, partners, and interested citizens. (1 December 2016)

House of Commons Library briefings: the Commons Library has published updated briefing papers on:

  • Devolution to local government in England: summarises the main developments regarding the process of devolution of powers to local government within England since 2014. It covers the devolution deals agreed up to July 2016, including the powers to be devolved, the procedures required for devolution to take place, and reactions to the policy from the local government and policy-making worlds; 
  • Combined authorities: outlines the origins and structures of combined authorities, which will handle many of the 'devolution deals' agreed between the Government and local areas in England.

(23 November 2016)

Draft Combined Authorities (Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Access to Information and Audit Committees) Order 2016: this draft Oder, which is due to come into force on 8 May 2017, prescribes the requirements for the membership and proceedings of Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Audit Committees of combined authorities. (29 November 2016)

Draft Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017: this draft Order, once in force, provides for the conduct of elections for directly-elected mayors of combined authorities. It covers setting nomination arrangements, deposits and spending limits for candidates, and rules relating to the conduct of the poll itself, such as polling stations and provisions for counting votes. (29 November 2016)

Draft Combined Authorities (Mayors) (Filling of Vacancies) Order 2017: this draft Order, once in force, provides for the filling of vacancies in the office of a mayor for the area of a combined authority. It sets out the rules by which vacancies are to be declared in the office of Mayor, and the procedure by which these are to be filled through by-elections. (29 November 2016)

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

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Economic Development

House of Commons Library briefings: the Commons Library has published updated briefing papers on: 

  • City Deals: provides an overview of City Deals, which are bespoke packages of funding and decision-making powers negotiated between central government and local authorities and/or Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local bodies. It includes details of the 30 that have been successfully negotiated since July 2012; 
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships: examines the history and current responsibilities of LEPs; 
  • Local Growth Deals: looks at the creation of the Single Local Growth Fund and the process of allocating Growth Deal funding to LEPs.

(23 November 2016)

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

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DfE: A Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy – An independent review: Sir Nick Weller was asked by the Government to undertake an independent review of northern education and produce a report to inform the delivery of a Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy. His report focuses on what can be done in the North to make teacher recruitment easier, develop greater leadership capacity, and close the very wide gap in the achievement of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children. He identifies a number of factors which may contribute to better performance, including closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged students, attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and leaders, developing and growing effective Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), and focusing on an academic curriculum and high-status qualifications.
See also Review of evidence on education in the north of England, a research report that collected available evidence on primary and secondary schools in the north, in order to understand problems with the quality of education in the north of England and its causes, and identify effective provision in the North. (23 November 2016)

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

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Emergency Planning

DfT: Strategic salt protocol – Note for local highway authorities in England: for this winter season, the DfT has retained an emergency salt stockpile of approximately 282,000 tonnes with a further 101,000 tonnes being held by Highways England. This note sets out the arrangements for allocation of salt from the emergency salt reserve, if and when required, including the price of salt. There is also a letter from Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to local highways authorities which explains the action being taken to prepare for winter 2016 to 2017 and the work that highway authorities need to do to prepare for winter. (29 November 2016)

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

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Cabinet Office: Code of Practice on the English language requirement for public sector workers: Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016 imposes a new duty on public authorities to ensure that each person who works for the public authority in a customer-facing role speaks fluent English. This updated Code of Practice helps public authorities to comply with this "fluency" legal duty. It provides principles and examples which public authorities can consider when fulfilling their legal duties and obligations. (29 November 2016)

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

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European Union

Department for Exiting the European Union: Frequently asked questions: sets out answers to the questions that the DEEU is asked most about the UK's departure from the European Union. (22 November 2016)

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

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HM Treasury: Autumn Statement 2016: the Chancellor has given his Autumn Statement to Parliament, setting out how the Government will return the public finances to health, while providing flexibility to support the economy in the near term and addressing long-term economic weaknesses through increased investment. Key points for local government are: 

  • There was no announcement about social care funding; 
  • Mayoral combined authorities to have powers to borrow for their new functions, subject to agreeing a borrowing cap with HM Treasury; 
  • A £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, funded by the NPIF (see below) and allocated to local government on a competitive basis, for projects such as roads and water connections that will support the construction of 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas;
  • £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes, with relaxation of restrictions on government grant to allow providers to deliver a mix of homes for affordable rent and low cost ownership; 
  • A large-scale regional pilot to give the Right to Buy to housing association tenants; 
  • Pay to Stay, under which local authority tenants with taxable incomes over £31,000 (or £40,000 in London) would have been required to pay a market, or near market, rent, will not be implemented. The Government will work to deliver its commitment to ensure that social housing is occupied by those who need it most through other measures; 
  • The Government will publish a Housing White Paper shortly, setting out a comprehensive package of reform to increase housing supply and halt the decline in housing affordability; 
  • £1.7bn by 2020/21 through the NPIF to speed up house building on public sector land in England through partnerships with private sector developers; 
  • The cap on Housing Benefit and LHA rates will now apply from April 2019 (instead of 2018) for all tenants on Universal Credit, and to Housing Benefit tenants whose tenancies began or were renewed since April 2016. The Government will provide additional funding to local authorities, so that they can meet the additional costs of supported housing in their area; 
  • £1.8bn from the Local Growth Fund to the English regions; 
  • New National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will provide major additional spending in areas that are key to boosting productivity; 
  • The Government will develop a new pipeline of projects that are suitable for delivery through the PF2 Public Private Partnership scheme. A list of projects to make up the initial pipeline, covering both economic and social infrastructure, will be set out in early 2017; 
  • £1.1bn extra investment in English local transport networks by 2020/21; 
  • The Government will consult on lending local authorities up to £1bn at a new local infrastructure rate of gilts + 60 basis points for three years to support infrastructure projects that are high value for money; 
  • Rural Rate Relief to be increased from 50% to 100% in April 2017; 
  • £50m new capital funding to support the expansion of existing grammar schools in each year from 2017/18, plus consultation on proposals for further reforms.

He also announced that this would be the last Autumn Statement: from next year the Budget will happen in the autumn from next year, along with a "Spring Statement" responding to the forecasts from the OBR but no major fiscal event, from Spring 2018.
See also the LGA's On the Day briefing. (23 November 2016)

Cabinet Office: Grant standards: sets out 10 new standards that are be adopted by all government departments to make sure that taxpayers’ money, awarded through government grants, is properly agreed and spent. They include the creation of a Grants Advice Panel to consider high risk, new and contentious expenditure as well as any significant increase in funding to existing grant schemes. In addition all departments will be required to have robust grants approval process for spend over £100,000, and all grants need to be reviewed annually at a minimum. The standards apply only to general grants made by departments and their Arm’s Length Bodies , using Exchequer funding; they do not apply to formula grants or grant-in-aid. (2 December 2016)

IFS: Council-level figures on spending cuts and business rates income: in October, the IFS launched its first paper in a new research programme examining how the local government finance system in England is undergoing genuinely revolutionary change. It has now published two spreadsheets with information for individual council areas: a spreadsheet showing changes to councils’ spending on services between 2009–10 and 2016–17; and a spreadsheet showing relative gains and losses from the BRRS since it was introduced in 2013–14. (28 November 2016)

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

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DCLG: Notice of intention to serve a direction under Section 4a of the Local Government Act: the Communities Secretary has written to three London boroughs (Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest) giving notice of a direction that he proposes to give to them under s.4A LGA 1986 Act about compliance with the Recommended Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity. The councils now have 14 days from the date of the notice to make any further representations to the Secretary of State. Following this, the Communities Secretary may, if he considers it necessary, direct any or all of the Councils to comply with the Code, having had due regard to any further representations received and the Equalities Statement on enforcing the Publicity Code. (2 December 2016)

LGiU: Future local: earlier this year, the LGiU published an online series of interactive articles on possible futures for local government, following the referendum on UK membership of the European Union. It has now re-issued them in one collection. The essays cover: Sovereignty; Creative destruction; A written constitution; The financial future of local government; Local leadership; At the centre of local economic life; and Global participation. (14 November 2016)

DCLG: Grant-making powers return to Tower Hamlets: in 2014, the Government appointed four commissioners, led by former Chief Fire Officer Sir Ken Knight, to oversee the running of certain aspects of Tower Hamlets LBC, after an independent inspection of the council warned of a breakdown in democratic accountability and a significant risk of misuse of public funds. The Communities Secretary has now announced plans for a phased return of powers to Tower Hamlets LBC, so they can now make the final decision on grants awarded to not-for-profit organisations in the local community. The Commissioners will continue to oversee these decisions to ensure taxpayer’s money was put to best use. (2 December 2016)

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

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Health and Safety

HSE: Council fined after boy nearly drowns: reports that Swansea Crown Court has fined Powys CC £75,000 plus costs of £16,000 after the Council pleaded guilty to breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and reg.3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The prosecution arose after a four year old boy nearly drowned during a swimming lesson at a leisure centre. An HSE investigation found that the Council had failed to properly risk assess the swimming lessons and in particular that part of the lesson where mixed abilities and ages were allowed to take part in free play. They did not define the position or roles of the staff to supervise free play, failed to deal with the distraction caused by parents coming onto the pool side at the end of lessons and during free play and failed to give adequate time or resource between sessions to reconfigure the pool lane ropes. (17 November 2016)

Hounslow LBC: David Lloyd fined over £350,000: reports that Isleworth Crown Court has fined David Lloyd Leisure £330,000 plus ordered the company to pay £22,132 costs and a victim surcharge of £120 after the company pleaded guilty to an offence under s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. The prosecution followed the Council's investigation into an incident where a five-year-old boy almost fatally drowned in one of their swimming pools. The investigation found a series of failures that led to the incident taking place. It found that the situation could have been avoided if the club had ensured that staff given the role of running and supervising the swimming activity, and parents enrolling their children to take part, were made aware that children should either be competent swimmers or needed to wear armbands at all times. (16 November 2016)

HSE: Council fined £250,000 for not protecting workers’ health: Canterbury Crown Court has fined Thanet DC £250,000 plus costs of £18,326 after the Council pleaded guilty to breaching regs.6(2) and 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The prosecution arose after a worker was diagnosed with hard arm vibration (HAV) that left him with permanent injuries. An HSE investigation found that the worker would typically spend up to 6 hours a day using a range of powered equipment including mowers and hedge cutters, depending upon the season. He was not under any health surveillance or told how he should report his symptoms. The Council had not taken steps to eliminate or control the exposure of their workers to HAVs; they also failed to educate their workers on the risk and train them on how to control their exposure to the vibrations caused by the power tools. (18 November 2016)

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

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Health and Social Care

NICE: Quick guides for social care: NICE has published two more guides in its series that presents key information for social care topics in a simple format: 

(18 November 2016)

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

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DCLG: Tailored Review of the Homes and Communities Agency: sets out the findings of DCLG's review of the HCA that was part of a wider programme of government activity to scrutinise the effectiveness and efficiency of public bodies. The Review has found that the HCA is well positioned to help achieve national housebuilding ambitions and play a vital role in creating a housing market that works for everyone. It concludes that the HCA should continue in its current form as a public body with a renewed and revitalised purpose of supporting housebuilding and increasing the supply of available land. To help achieve this purpose it also recommended that HCA’s social housing regulation function should become a separate public body. (30 November 2016)

DCLG: Social housing regulation – Using a Legislative Reform Order to establish the Regulator as a stand-alone body: seeks views on the proposed legislative changes to the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 to implement the HCA Review's recommendation on the separation of the Social Housing Regulator. Views are invited on all aspects of the consultation paper, with a specific focus on eligibility against criteria for using a Legislative Reform Order. The consultation closes on 27 January 2017. (30 November 2016)

DCLG: Homelessness Reduction Bill – Policy factsheets: this Bill amends local authorities' homelessness powers and duties under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. It adds several new duties, including  duties to prevent homelessness for all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness and to relieve homelessness for all eligible homeless applicants. There is also a new duty on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. DCLG has now published a number of factsheets that provide further background information on the measures within the Bill. (29 November 2016)

DCLG: A housing market that works for everyone: press release summarising the measures in the Autumn Statement that set out investment of over £7.2bn in housing. (24 November 2016)

DCLG: Funding for supported housing: seeks views on seeks views on proposals for a new housing costs funding model for supported housing and also how funding for emergency and short term placements should work. It covers devolved top-up funding to local authorities in England and funding for emergency and short term supported housing placements across Great Britain. The consultation closes on 13 February 2017. (21 November 2016)

Welsh Government: £30 million and new housing supply pact to deliver 20,000 homes: announces a new pact between the WLGA, Community Housing Cymru and the Welsh Government to deliver 20,000 affordable homes during this term of Government, together with an additional £30m funding. (1 December 2016)

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

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Human Rights

MOJ: Responding to Human Rights judgments – Report to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Government’s response to Human Rights judgments 2014–16: sets out the Government’s position on the implementation of adverse human rights judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the domestic courts. It is divided into three main sections: 

  • general introductory comments, including wider developments in human rights and the process for implementation of adverse judgments; 
  • the UK’s record on the implementation of judgments of the ECtHR and an overview of significant ECtHR judgments that either have become final since the last report or became final earlier but are still under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers; and 
  • information about declarations of incompatibility in domestic cases.

(18 November 2016)

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

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DCMS: Libraries deliver: Ambition for public libraries in England 2016-2021: sets out a new strategy, produced by the Libraries Taskforce, to help public library service prosper in the 21st century. The strategy calls on local authorities to make use of the buildings, staff and services, and think innovatively to help increase reading, literacy and digital access in communities. It says library buildings should be used to provide access to a range of public services such as employment, health and learning opportunities to make sure libraries have a sustainable future. The strategy includes a new £4m Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund, managed by Arts Council England, that will finance new projects such as literacy schemes, improving access to technology or increasing the number of children visiting libraries. The Taskforce will also provide additional support and encourage public libraries in England that want to explore becoming public service mutuals. It is also piloting new ways for libraries to generate income from government initiatives. The strategy is supported by an action plan, saying what will happen to make the vision a reality. (1 December 2016)

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

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Law Commission: Reforming misconduct in public office – Deadline for responses extended: in September, the Law Commission published a consultation paper on options for reform of the law of misconduct in public office, looking at whether the existing offence of misconduct in public office should be abolished, retained, restated or amended. It has announced that the closing date for responses has been extended from 28 November 2016 to 3 January 2017. (23 November 2016)

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

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Social Enterprise Mark: Outcomes-based commissioning – How Social Enterprise Mark CIC accreditation can help: Social Enterprises Mark is a social enterprise accreditation scheme, enabling organisations to prove they are in business to create benefits for people and the planet. It has published resources and advice for public sector commissioners on how to embed an outcomes based approach to their procurement of public services.  (23 November 2016)

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

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Regulatory Services

Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill: this Private Member's Bill has been introduced into the Commons by David Tredinnick MP and received its 2nd Reading. The Bill aims to make it easier for local authorities to lower their parking charges and to provide for local authorities to consult interested parties if they are seeking to increase the cost of parking charges. The Bill amends provisions in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and will in effect give the Secretary of State regulation-making powers to achieve the ends stated above. (25 November 2016)

Hemming v Westminster City Council (Case 316/15) [2016] EUECJ C-316/15 (CJEU): this was a reference from the Supreme Court for a preliminary ruling on whether Art.13(2) of the Services Directive 2006/123 (brought into force in the UK by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009) precluded the requirement for the payment of a fee, at the time of submitting an application for the grant or renewal of authorisation, part of which corresponds to the costs relating to the management and enforcement of the authorisation scheme concerned, even if that part is refundable if the application is refused. The Court concluded that the Services Directive's wording did not support a payment in advance for wider purposes even if it was refundable and in any event the aims of the Services Directive would not be served by "a requirement to pre-finance the costs of management and enforcement of the authorisation scheme concerned, including inter alia the costs of detecting and prosecuting unauthorised activities". In the light of its views, the CJEU ruled that the Services Directive should be interpreted as precluding charging in advance for costs other than those directly related to the authorisation process. This applies even if the payment is refundable. (16 November 2016)
See our commentary on this ruling and its implications for local authorities: Hemming CJEU Note.

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

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Traffic and Transport

HC Transport Committee: Bus Services Bill: this report scrutinises the Bus Services Bill that is currently before Parliament. The Bill proposes major reforms to the way in which bus services could be delivered in England outside of London. The Committee finds that there is a lot to welcome in this Bill. By giving local authorities new powers and offering practical measures such as improved passenger information and services, these proposals have the potential to bring about significant improvements for both passengers and communities. The Bill opens up possibilities for local authorities to implement new forms of partnership or franchising based on what's best for their communities;  but Committee scrutiny of the franchising process was hindered by a lack of information. The Committee calls on the Government to produce more detailed guidance on the Secretary of State’s franchising consent powers and the open data provisions without delay. (25 November 2016)

Surrey CC v Windsor and Maidenhead RBC [2016] EWHC 2901 (Admin) (Admin Ct): SCC applied for judicial review of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) made by WMRBC that placed a weight limit on a section of a road. SCC objected to the draft TRO on the grounds that its effect would be to divert heavy commercial vehicles onto local roads which were less suitable. SCC argued that WMRBC had failed to comply with its obligations to consult under reg.6 of Local Authorities' Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996.
The court held, refusing the application, that the consultation requirement under reg.6 was a separate requirement from the regulatory framework for objections provided under regs.7, 8 and 13. However, the consultation was not disqualified as being beyond a formative stage because WMRBC chose to carry out the consultation in the light of its proposed Order and at the same time as carrying out the objection process under regs.7 and 8. There was nothing on the materials before the court that demonstrated that the consultation was not a genuine process or that the officers and councillors did not retain an open mind as to the consideration of any responses to consultation or objections. There was nothing to show that its conclusion to support the Order on the evidence was irrational or otherwise flawed. (16 November 2016)

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

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