Authority Update 13/1/17

Brief details of recent policy, legal and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work

16/01/2017

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 four weeks. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

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

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

    Adult Social Services     Health and Social Care
    Children's Services     Highways
    Combined Authorities and Devolution     Housing
    Communities     Human Rights
    Economic Development     Local Land Charges
    Education     Maladministration
    Elections     Planning Policy
    Employment     Police
    Energy     Public Health
    Finance and Business Rates     Standards
    Governance     Traffic and Transport

Adult Social Services

LGO: Wokingham council criticised after woman left severely malnourished during stay in care home: the LGO has issued a report criticising a council after a vulnerable dementia patient lost a third of her body weight while living in the care home it contracted to look after her. The investigation recommends that, to remedy the injustice caused by poor care planning and delivery, the council pay a total of £4,000 to the patient's family. It also recommends that the council includes specific spot checks around nutrition, falls and care plans for activities. (5 January 2017)

Welsh Government: Charging for social care: seeks views on draft Care and Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2017 which introduce changes to local authority charging for social care and support. The changes, which are planned to take effect from 10 April 2017:

  • increase the amount of money people can keep without having to use it to pay for residential social care from £24,000 to £30,000;
  • a full disregard of War Disablement Pension in financial assessments for charging for care and support;
  • increase the maximum charge for non-residential care and support to £70 a week; and
  • increase the minimum amount a person in residential social care can keep from their income to spend as they wish from £26.50 to £27.50pw. (21 December 2016)

Social Care Wales (Extension of Meaning of “Social Care Worker”) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/1251 (W.296)): these regulations, which come into force on 3 April 2017, specify the persons who are to be treated as social care workers for the purposes of the functions of Social Care Wales under the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. (13 December 2016)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Government response to Sir Martin Narey’s Independent Review of Residential Care: sets out the Government's formal response to Sir Martin’s report that looked at the role of residential care within the wider care system and recommended how to improve the outcomes of children in residential care. It gives details of how the Government proposes to implement some of Sir Martin's recommendations and also comments on other recommendations. (20 December 2016) 

DfE: Report for social work assessment and accreditation system – Proof of concept: summarises the KPMG findings and the analysis of social workers’ performance carried out as part of a proof of concept phase for a new assessment and accreditation system for child and family social workers. It has been produced as part of the Government’s "Putting children first" reform programme for children’s social care in England over the next five years. (20 December 2016) 

DfE: Local authority use of secure placements: this research report examines how children are placed in secure accommodation on ‘welfare’ grounds, in order to prevent them from harming themselves or others. It finds that senior managers agreed that restricting a child’s liberty was a 'draconian' step and respondents were rigorous about applying s.25 criteria. There was no evidence to suggest that secure placements were being used without the criteria being met or without professional judgement that the child would benefit. (21 December 2016) 

DfE: Child sexual exploitation – Support in children’s homes: this research report examines the tailored support provided to children affected by child sexual exploitation who are placed in residential care. It looks at approaches already used and discusses what has and hasn’t worked, and whether the information can be shared more widely. (21 December 2016)

DfE: Families to benefit from £50 million boost to childcare schemes: announces the successful projects that will receive a share of grants worth £50m, to help to deliver the Government’s 30 hours free childcare offer. (10 January 2017) 

Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/1257): these regulations set out the eligibility criteria for the free childcare entitlement under the Childcare Act 2016 and the rules for checking eligibility, including provisions relating to information sharing. Part 4 of the regulations places a duty on local authorities to secure the free childcare and provide more detail about how local authorities should meet that duty. The regulations mainly come into force on 9 January 2017, except for Part 4, which comes into force on 1 September 2017. (19 December 2016)

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

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Combined Authorities and Devolution

House of Commons Library: Devolution deals and housing (England): this briefing paper outlines the housing aspects of devolution deals that have been agreed between the Government and local areas. The includes which housing and planning powers will be devolved under the deals, what progress has been made towards implementation, and which other powers local areas have asked for. (22 December 2016)

R (Derbyshire CC) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWHC 3355 (Admin Ct): DCC applied for judicial review of a public consultation exercise carried out by Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (CA) regarding a scheme under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 to extend the CA's area of to include Chesterfield BC, a district council within DCC's area, and Bassetlaw DC, a district council within Nottinghamshire CC's area. DCC contended that the public consultation process did not comply with s.113 of the 2009 Act as it not include areas outside the CA and its proposed extensions, and in particular, it did not include residents of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire other than those in Chesterfield BC and Bassetlaw DC. It gave five examples of topics on which the questionnaire should have sought the views of the public, namely about: the membership of the CA; the voting rights of the members; the specific functions which it would have; the specific functions which would be conferred upon the Mayor; and the CA's funding.
The court held, allowing the application, that it was fundamental to a consultation under s.113 that at least the major proposals in the scheme should be identified and be made the subject of consultation, with adequate, even if simplified, material provided to explain it so as to permit of sensible response. A consultation was not "in connection with the scheme", where it asked questions which were connected to the proposals, but omitted major issues. Chesterfield BC's new role in the CA was one of the fundamental proposals or changes to be wrought by the scheme but although various questions in the questionnaire touched on Chesterfield BC becoming a constituent member, no question actually asked whether respondents supported that or not. The Secretary of State did not know the views of the public on whether Chesterfield BC should be part of the CA in the same way he knew the public views given in response to the questionnaire on other topics. The judge stated that something had gone seriously wrong with the consultation process in this respect because the major vehicle for public response arbitrarily omitted one of the major controversial proposals in the scheme.
There should have been a question asking whether Chesterfield BC should be part of the CA; without it the consultation did not achieve its statutory purpose under s.113. However, the consultation would not be quashed since the Secretary of State might decide that he could sustain the lawfulness of the consultation by different reasoning based on all the material he considers. He might decide that only a part of the consultation needed to be done again; it was not the whole of the consultation which was unlawful. (21 December 2016)

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

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Communities

LGA: A councillor's workbook on neighbourhood and community engagement: this workbook has been designed as a learning aid for elected members, to help them in their day-to-day role as a ward member to encourage citizens and communities to get more involved in the decision making processes of their council. It includes guidance, case studies and exercises. (11 January 2017)

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

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Economic Development

DCLG: European Regional Development Fund operational programme 2014-20 – Eligibility guidance: new version of the guidance, with a practical interpretation of the National Eligibility Rules covering the 2014-20 England ERDF. See also the updated overview of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds. (11 January 2017)

LGA: Devolve funding to increase building and job creation: the LGA is calling for growth funding to be devolved, thus enabling councils and businesses to boost housebuilding, create jobs and invest in new infrastructure. This call comes in the light of LGA research which reveals that £23bn of growth funding is spread out across 70 funding streams managed by 22 government departments and agencies. This is creating a maze of complexity that is hurting the economy by creating significant delays in delivering projects and generating frustration. (29 December 2016)

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

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Education

DfE: SEND implementation grant – Allocations for 2017 to 2018: announces funding for local authorities to carry out special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms in the 2017/18 financial year. (9 January 2017)

Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/9): these regulations, which come into force on 11 January 2017, set the definition of a coasting school for the purposes of the Education and Adoption Act 2016. This will allow the Secretary of State to take action for the first time to support such schools to improve performance. (9 January 2017)

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

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Elections

Cabinet Office: A democracy that works for everyone – A clear and secure democracy: sets out the Government's response to Sir Eric Pickles’ report on electoral fraud that was published in August 2016. It announces a number of measures to tackle electoral fraud, including:

  • piloting the use of ID in polling stations across England; 
  • preventing the intimidation and undue influence of voters at the hands of activists and supporters;  
  • ending the dubious practice of postal vote harvesting, and  
  • considering measures for nationality checking that will prevent fraudulent voter registrations.

The Annex discusses the types of identification that could be piloted, as well as the locations where pilots could take place, and presents a number of pilot scheme models. (27 December 2016)

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

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Employment

LGA: Applying a reward strategy in local government: this paper aims to help councils frame their reward strategy in the  context of their organisational challenges. The reductions to local government funding during the 2010-15 Parliament compelled local authorities to explore alternative forms of service delivery in order to reduce costs and generate new revenue streams and the need to ‘do more with less’ means that there is strong pressure on all local authority service models to ensure that reward spend is optimised. These pressures and changes have implications for councils’ reward strategies and how they attract and retain staff to ensure optimum performance. This paper discusses changing local government delivery models and the associated drivers for a local authority reward strategy. It then considers what constitutes a reward strategy, and the need to align reward arrangements with business and workforce strategies. It also considers the importance of total reward approaches and briefly summarises how certain local government service models align with different reward approaches. (23 December 2016)

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

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Energy

DBEIS: Guidance to English Energy Conservation Authorities issued pursuant to the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995: the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 imposes a duty on English local authorities to report on what is being done to improve energy efficiency in all residential accommodation in their area and to report to the Secretary of State on progress in implementing the measures. This updated guidance advises authorities on preparing reports for 31 March 2017 and for subsequent progress reports. (4 January 2017)

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

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Finance and Business Rates

Local Government Finance Bill: this Bill has been introduced into the Commons and received its 1st Reading. The Bill provides a framework to allow local government to retain 100% of non‐domestic rates and   replaces the yearly local government finance settlement with a multi‐year settlement. It provides flexibilities to local authorities to shape the operation of business rates in their areas, in particular to reduce the national business rates multiplier. In addition, the Greater London Authority and mayoral combined authorities will be able to raise a levy on business rates to fund infrastructure expenditure on projects that will promote economic development. Part 4 contains measures to allow English billing authorities to make property owner arrangements and impose levies in Business Improvement Districts, regardless of whether a business rate supplement is in force in that district, thus enabling more businesses to support regeneration in their areas. The Bill includes four additional business rate measures that support local businesses and premises owners, to provide: 

  • a power to set the indexation rate for business rate multiplier; 
  • a change to rural rate relief to ensure small businesses in rural areas access the same level of business rate reliefs as those in urban areas; 
  • a new relief for five years for the installation of new optical fibre; and 
  • a new discretionary relief for public toilets.

(13 January 2017)

DCLG: Business Rates information letter 3/2016 Autumn Statement measures and 2017 revaluation: provides information on: the Autumn Statement 2016; 2017 revaluation and transitional relief; update on Budget 2016 measures; information on local authority websites; and better billing and digitalisation measures. (20 December 2016)

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

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Governance

Shasha (As Trustees of the Placement Pension Fund) v Westminster City Council [2016] EWHC 3283 (Admin) (Admin Ct): S applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to grant planning permission for a basement development at a block of flats. S's contentions included that submitted that the planning officer had an obligation to provide reasons by virtue of reg.7 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.
The court held, granting the application, that reg.7 did apply to a decision taken under delegated powers to grant planning permission. It was true that planning legislation provided a comprehensive code of planning control, but that legislation did not by itself provide a comprehensive code that governed by whom and how planning decisions were to be taken by local authorities. Those matters are also governed by the primary legislation applicable to the discharge of their functions by local authorities, including in particular, Parts V, VA and VI of, and Sch.12 to, the Local Government Act 1972 and Part 1A of the Local Government Act 2000, and subordinate legislation made under such Acts. The duty to give reasons for the decision to grant permission under reg.7(3)(b) would not be satisfied by a notice provided in accordance with art.35 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure Order) (England) Order 2015 containing the reasons for any conditions imposed was misconceived. Such a notice was not required to contain the reasons for the grant of the permission; it was only required to give reasons for each condition imposed and for any refusal of permission. There was therefore an obligation on the decision-making officer to produce a record of the decision to grant planning permission and the reasons for it as soon as practicable after the decision-making officer made the decision. (19 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 Social Care

LGO: Working together to investigate health and social care complaints: this focus report gives an overview of the first year’s activity of the LGO’s and PHSO's Joint Working Team, which was set up in 2015 as a response to the challenges of investigating and remedying complaints which span services delivered by both the health and social care sectors. During its first year the team carried out 180 investigations. It discovered that many of the problems experienced have been caused by the complex way in which health and social care is provided at a local level. The report includes a range of case studies which illustrate the experiences of people who were affected by failure to deliver services. In some cases, this caused considerable hardship and stress. (22 December 2016)

LGA: Combating loneliness – A guide for local authorities: this guide, produced with Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness, sets out a range of actions for effectively combating loneliness, building on the latest evidence. These practical steps are illustrated by case studies drawn from around the country. (6 January 2017)

HC Communities and Local Government Committee: Health and social care: the Chairs of three Commons select committees have written to the Prime Minister calling for a political consensus to address the pressing social care challenges facing the country and that it must also include the NHS. They call on the Prime Minister to invite all parties to take part in an urgent review, covering the health and social care systems. See also the Prime Minister's response which states that the Government is committed to finding a sustainable system of social care for the future. (6 January 2017)

Welsh Government: Draft national dementia strategy: seeks views on developing and implementing a national dementia strategy, Together for a Dementia Friendly Wales 2017 – 2022. It calls for comments on the key themes and actions to be included in the strategy, services available for people living with dementia and evidence of existing good practice. The consultation closes on 3 April 2017. (9 January 2017)

Welsh Government: £10m-a-year more for social care: announces further investment as part of a three-way agreement to be established between the Welsh Government, local government and social care employers to work together to create a more stable social care workforce. The £10m funding will help meet the extra costs associated with the introduction of the national living wage and is in addition to the extra £25m for social care that was announced in the draft 2017-18 Budget in October. Further funding to support social care in 2017-18 will be available as the maximum weekly charge for domiciliary care rises from £60 to £70. (5 January 2017)

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

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Highways

DfT: Government allocates £1.2 billion roads funding to councils: announces the allocation of £1.2bn funding for local roads for 2017/18. The funding includes money from the new National Productivity Investment Fund and the Pothole Action Fund. It also includes £75m which councils can bid for to repair and maintain local infrastructure such as bridges, street lighting and rural roads. It also announces that the Government is to trial a new pothole-spotter system which could revolutionise the way that potholes are identified and managed. (13 January 2017)

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

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Housing

LGA: Building our homes, communities and future – The LGA Housing Commission final report: the LGA Housing Commission was established to help councils deliver their ambition for places. The Autumn Statement introduced a number of welcome measures supporting housebuilding across tenures, investing in
affordable homes and infrastructure linked to housing growth. These were important asks in the Commission's preliminary findings (July 2016), but it finds that there is much more to do. In advance of the Housing White Paper, this final Commission report sets out recommendations for how local and national government can work together to build more homes, and to build homes that meet the diverse needs of people, partners and places. (22 December 2016)

DCLG: Public Land for Housing programme 2015-20: the Public Land for Housing programme, which was announced at Autumn Statement 2015, aims to dispose of surplus government-owned land in England with capacity for at least 160,000 homes by the end of March 2020. This handbook sets out the aims and objectives of the programme, how progress will be monitored and the programme governance. (16 December 2016)

HCA: Accelerated construction – Local authorities: Expressions of interest: the HCA is inviting bids from local authorities who would like to develop out surplus land holdings at pace, for a tailored package of support. The Accelerated Construction programme aims to deliver up to 15,000 homes on central and local surplus public sector land in this Parliament through £1.7bn of investment. The programme is designed to support non-major builders and help tackle the construction skills gap, including through greater use of Modern Methods of Construction. The closing date for expressions of interest is 28 February 2017. (3 January 2017)

DCLG: £60 million boost for communities affected by second homeownership: announces the allocation of funding from a new annual £60m Community Housing Fund to help almost 150 councils tackle the problem of high levels of second homeownership in their communities. The funding will be targeted at the community-led housing sector and distributed to groups via local councils. The first year of funding will be used to build capacity within local groups while funding the following year must then be used to deliver housing on the ground for local people. Local authorities should work closely with community-led housing groups and other stakeholders throughout to ensure the right tools are in place to ensure efficient delivery of new houses in subsequent years. (23 December 2016)

DCLG: First ever garden villages named with government support: announces £6m funding to support 14 new garden villages plus £1.4m support for three new garden towns. A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes, while garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 - 10,000 homes. The Government has made an additional £1m available this year for further development of other garden village proposals and may run a further call for expressions of interest in 2017 for other places with proposals for new garden villages. (2 January 2017)

DH: Funds to improve housing for people with learning disabilities: announces the successful local authorities that have been awarded a share of the £25m Housing and Technology Fund for people with learning disabilities. The fund aims to improve their quality of life by giving them independence, and helping them feel more included in their local community. The local authority projects will focus on adapting existing housing, creating new accommodation and giving people support so they have more independence and choice. (20 December 2016)

DCLG: New money for affordable homes released: announces the release of £7m funding under the Affordable Housing programme. The HCA is inviting bids from housing associations and local authorities for funding to build Shared Ownership, Rent to Buy and affordable rented homes. (5 January 2017)

House of Commons Library: The New Homes Bonus Scheme (England): this briefing paper explains how the New Homes Bonus Scheme works and provides comment on its impact. The scheme was introduced by the Coalition Government with the aim of encouraging local authorities to grant planning permission for the building of new houses in return for additional revenue. Under the scheme, the Government matches the Council Tax raised on each new home built for a period of six years. (29 December 2016)

R (Plant) v Lambeth LBC [2016] EWHC 3324 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the court has refused an application  to quash the Council's decision to demolish and rebuild all the homes on one of its estates. In an earlier case, Bokrosova v Lambeth LBC [2015] EWHC 3386 (Admin), the court had quashed the Council's previous decision on the grounds that the Council's consultation had been unlawful. The Council then conducted a re-consultation in relation to all five options. P sought to challenge the conduct of that re-consultation. His grounds of challenged included that: the Council's proposal involved a breach of Protocol 1 Article 1 ECHR (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions) in that it interfered with the ability of existing secure tenants to exercise their Right to Buy (RTB) at some stage in the future; the Council's Cabinet was misled or misdirected as to the options open to the Council; and the consultation failed to provide consultees with adequate information about the effect of the Council's proposal on the RTB and the options for maintaining such a right.
The court dismissed the application. Protocol 1 Art.1 was not engaged – the "possession" which was held by a secure tenant did not include an absolute right to exercise an RTB, irrespective of whether they continued to have a secure tenancy of that dwelling. Instead, the potential exercise of that statutory RTB was conditional upon the tenant continuing to hold the secure tenancy of his or her property. That tenancy might be brought to an end by the operation of the 1985 Act, which included the redevelopment ground. The Cabinet's failure to have had regard to a Written Ministerial Statement setting out government policy was not a material legal error. The Council had not taken a formal decision on whether or not to include a contractual RTB in the assured tenancies and the decision being challenged did not preclude a future decision to include such rights. The Council had promised consultation on the terms of the assured tenancy, which was to include the contractual RTB issue. It had created a legitimate expectation to that effect. There was no requirement for the consultation which had since been promised on the contractual RTB issue to take place before the Cabinet's decision. (21 December 2016)
For commentary on this case, see our alert: Housing Delivery Vehicles and the Right to Buy, in which we discuss what it means for housing authorities intending to deliver rented accommodation via a special purpose vehicle such as a council-owned company or joint venture. 

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

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Human Rights

Secretary of State for Justice v Staffordshire CC [2016] EWCA Civ 1317 (CA): the issue in this case was whether, in order for the UK to avoid being in breach of Art.5(1) ECHR, it was necessary for a welfare order to be made by the Court of Protection pursuant to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in a case where an individual, who lacked the capacity to make decisions about where to live and the regime of care, treatment and support that he should receive, was to be given such care, treatment and support entirely by private sector providers in private accommodation in circumstances which, objectively, were a deprivation of his liberty within the meaning of Art.5(1).
SK suffered multiple injuries in a road accident. He received a substantial award of damages which funded his accommodation and his 24-hour care package for the rest of his life. The County Council was unaware of his private care arrangements until it received a letter from SK's appointed deputy informing the Council that the arrangements for SK's accommodation and care might amount to a deprivation of his liberty. The Council then carried out an assessment and concluded that SK was being deprived of his liberty for the purposes of the Mental Capacity Act and Art.5(1). The council then sought a declaration that SK lacked capacity to make decisions regarding his care and residence, and an order that it was in SK's best interests to be deprived of his liberty. The judge concluded that a welfare order was needed. The SoS appealed, arguing that, despite the absence of a requirement for a welfare order, the UK's existing domestic regime in respect of incapacitated persons who were being treated and supported entirely in private accommodation by private providers was sufficient compliance with the State's positive obligation under Art.5(1), at least where the public authorities had no reason to believe that there had been any abuse or mistreatment.
The court held, dismissing the Secretary of State's appeal, that the judge was fully entitled, and right, to conclude that, absent the making of a welfare order by the CoP, there were insufficient procedural safeguards against arbitrary detention in a purely private care regime. Under the Care Act 2014 local authorities had an adult safeguarding role. The local authority's obligation was to investigate, support and sometimes to make an application to the court (or to consider doing those things) in an appropriate case. However, although local authorities and the CQC had responsibilities for the quality of care and the protection of persons in SK's position, they would only act if someone had drawn the matter to their attention and there was nothing to trigger a periodic assessment. The current domestic regime depended on people reporting something was wrong, and that could be particularly problematic in cases where no parents or other family members were involved in the care and treatment. It did not meet the obligation of the State under Art.5(1) to take reasonable steps to prevent arbitrary deprivation of liberty. (22 December 2016)

If you are a health and social care professional and would like access to the Bevan Brittan Mental Health Extranet which has a secure online forum and up-to date mental health knowledge, please click on this link: http://www.bevanbrittanmentalhealth.com/apply

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

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Local Land Charges

Law Society: VAT on CON29 and related searches update: update for local authorities regarding HMRC's proposal that VAT should be charged by local authorities on CON29 and CON29O searches, from 1 January 2017. The Law Society has asked HMRC about the imposition of the tax, and about the tax point and the parameters of the charging regime. It is encouraging HMRC to make this information available on their website, giving the reasons for the imposition of VAT on searches and guidance as to exactly how VAT will be applied. (5 January 2017)

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

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Maladministration

DCLG: Michael King appointed as new Local Government Ombudsman: confirms the appointment of Michael King as the new LGO. He succeeds Dr Jane Martin, who has been the Local Government Ombudsman since 2010. He will take up the post with immediate effect. (11 January 2017)

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

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Planning Policy

DCLG: Government response to the consultation on improving the use of planning conditions: sets out the Government's response to the September 2016 consultation on measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill to address the inappropriate use of pre-commencement planning conditions. To help address the urgent need to tackle the inappropriate use of ‘pre-commencement’ conditions, the Government is introducing a power in the Bill to ensure that these conditions can only be used with the agreement of the applicant. The measure will not change the way conditions can be used to maintain existing protections for important matters such as heritage, the natural environment, green spaces, and the mitigation of flooding. The Government will also introduce a power in the Bill to prohibit specific types of condition which do not meet the tests in the National Planning Policy Framework. (15 December 2016)

DCLG: Implementation of neighbourhood planning provisions – Government response to consultation: sets out the formal response to the September technical consultation on the detailed regulations to implement some of the neighbourhood planning measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. The proposed reforms cover 3 matters:
• the detailed procedures for modifying neighbourhood plans and Orders;
• the examination of a neighbourhood plan proposal where a neighbourhood area has been modified and a neighbourhood plan has already been made in relation to that area; and
• requirement for local planning authorities to review their Statements of Community Involvement at regular intervals.
(15 December 2016)

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

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Police

HC Home Affairs Committee: Policing for the future inquiry – Changing demands and new challenges: the Committee has launched an inquiry into the challenges of modern policing. It will examine whether police forces in England and Wales are sufficiently equipped and resourced to keep the public safe and to respond effectively to evolving demands and changing patterns of crime. The deadline for written submissions is 16 February 2017. (9 January 2017)
 
If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Frances Woodhead.

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Public Health

PHE: Support after a suicide – A guide to providing local services: practical guidance for commissioners on why and how they can deliver support after suicide in their local areas.
See also the National Suicide Prevention Alliance's guidance on Developing and delivering local bereavement services and Evaluating local bereavement support services. (9 January 2017)

PHE: Specialist substance misuse services for young people: sets out four core commissioning principles have been developed, based on the findings, research and evidence based guidelines, for the commissioning and provision of specialist substance misuse provision for young people. The document is designed to provide prompts around some core principles for consideration when local authorities are commissioning specialist substance misuse provision, but is not intended to be a comprehensive commissioning guide. (12 January 2017)

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

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Standards

Taylor v Honiton Town Council; East Devon DC (Interested Party) [2016] EWHC 3307 (Admin) (Admin Ct): this case raises two issues: The role of the district council in parish council standards cases, and the ability to impose training as a sanction.
T applied for judicial review of the Town Council's decision to impose sanctions on him for a breach of its Code of Conduct by failing to treat the Town Clerk with courtesy and respect. T had written a letter that was published in the local newspaper, in which he raised concerns about the Town Council's use of money from the Public Works Loans Board. The Town Clerk complained that she had been slandered in the letter and that her professional reputation was affected. T refused to apologise and the District Council commenced an investigation. T was found to have breached the Code by failing to treat the Town Clerk with respect, and the Town Council imposed sanctions on T as recommended by the District Council and also added some measures of its own that were to remain in place until T had complied with the training requirement. After T applied for judicial review, the Town Council accepted that that it had no power to impose a training requirement and did not intend to do so.
The court held that s.28(6) and s.28(9) of the Localism Act 2011 placed the duty of investigation and decision of allegations against members of the Town Council on the District Council as principal authority. The arrangements for decision making had to involve independent persons and it would have frustrated that important safeguard to hold that a parish council had a duty to reconsider the principal authority's decision and substitute its own if it chose to do so. T's challenge was based on the proposition that the District Council's role was limited to that of investigator and adviser on both questions and contended that the Town Council was the ultimate decision maker on both issues. This was clearly wrong – a natural reading of the Act gave decision making power to the principal authority and required it to have arrangements for the exercise of that power in place. It would make a nonsense of that scheme if the Town Council were able to take its own decision without having any of those arrangements in place.
The Town Council was under a statutory duty to maintain high standards of conduct and to have a Code of Conduct. A relevant authority's requirement for the person in breach of this Code to be trained in its meaning and application was proportionate to a significant breach. There was no point in having a Code of Conduct if members of the authority were not aware of its meaning and effect and where a member has demonstrated by his conduct that this was the case, a reasonable amount of training was a sensible measure. A local authority should be able to require its members to undertake training which was designed to enable them to fulfil their public functions safely and effectively. It was reasonably open to the decision maker to conclude that this was a serious breach of the Code. There was no finding as to T's motives and he may have acted in good faith, believing that his statement about the Town Clerk was justified; however, it was not. He accused her of criminal conduct when there was not the slightest justification for doing so. This was a very serious error of judgement, therefore, a requirement of training was proportionate. It was open to a relevant authority exercising its power as contemplated by s.28(11) to take action following a failure to comply with a Code of Conduct to require the member to undertake training. That decision would usually be published and it would be open to the authority to publish what happened as a result of the requirement.
The court quashed the Town Council's decision as it had acted unlawfully in adding additional sanctions over and above those recommended by the District Council. The District Council's decision both as to breach and recommended sanctions was held to be lawful.  (21 December 2016)

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

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Traffic and Transport

Office for Low Emission Vehicles: Grants to provide on-street residential chargepoints for plug-in electric vehicles: invites local authorities to submit applications for On-Street Residential Grant Scheme funding, which is aimed at increasing the availability of plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure for those who do not have access to off-street parking. The Scheme gives local authorities access to grant funding which can be used to part fund the procurement and installation of on-street electric vehicle chargepoint infrastructure, to meet residential needs, in line with the minimum technical specifications. Funding will be allocated to successful eligible applications on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. This guidance explains: who can apply for the funding; how much funding is available; and the application process and timetable. (22 December 2016)

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

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