Authority Update 10/3/17

Brief details of recent policy and legislative developments relevant to those involved in local government work

13/03/2017

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 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    Finance
    Business Rates    Fire and Rescue Authorities
    Children's Services    Health and Social Care
    Civil Procedure    Housing
    Combined Authorities and Devolution    Performance
    Communities    Planning Procedure
    Democratic Services    Procurement
    Economic Development    Public Health
    Education    Regulatory Services
    Employment    Traffic and Transport

Adult Social Services

DCLG: Supplementary funding to the improved Better Care Fund: in the Spring Budget 2017, the Government announced that an additional £2bn will be given to councils in England over the next three years for adult social care. This note explains how this additional funding will be allocate among local authorities. There is also a spreadsheet with details of the allocations. (9 March 2017)

LGA: Performance – How do you know your council is performing well in adult social care?: councils are responsible for their own performance and for leading the delivery of improved outcomes for local people in their area. Lead members will want to enable their councils to perform well in adult social care and to manage any risk. This document discusses questions that councillors may wish to consider when exploring how well their council is performing in adult social care. (1 March 2017)

LGA: Use of resources – How do you know you are making the best use of scarce resources?: lead members for adult social care are having to engage in a fundamental re-think about how they use their scarce resources to benefit the most vulnerable members of their communities. This publication offers some key messages to consider when undertaking this and some questions to lead members may wish consider when leading changes to the way social care services are developed and delivered. (24 February 2017)

Local Authority Social Services Annual Reports (Prescribed Form) (Wales) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/274 (W.72)): these regulations, which come into force on 4 September 2017, prescribe the form of the annual report that Welsh local authorities must prepare and publish about the exercise of their social services functions, under s.144A of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. (5 March 2017)

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

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Business Rates

DCLG: Consultation on proposals on the design and implementation of the locally administered Business Rates Relief Scheme: at the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government would make available a discretionary fund of £300m to support those businesses most affected by the revaluation. This will be available over four years. This consultation paper seeks views on: the allocation of resources to local authorities; arrangements for local authorities compensation; and the operation and conditions of discretionary relief scheme. It states that this will be administered through billing authorities' discretionary relief powers under s.47 LGA 1988. The Government believes that local authorities are best placed to judge the particular circumstances of local ratepayers and direct the funding where it is most needed to support local economies. The Government will allocate the available funding to each billing authority area based on assumptions about how authorities will target their relief scheme – see the spreadsheet setting out the local authority distribution of £300m discretionary pot under this proposed formula. The consultation closes on 7 April 2017. (9 March 2017)

DCLG: Business Rates Information Letter (2/2017) – Spring Budget: information on the Chancellor's business rates announcements in the Spring Budget about: supporting small businesses; new discretionary relief scheme; and new business rate relief scheme for pubs. (9 March 2017)

DCLG: Business Rates Information Letter (3/2017) – Multipliers: details of the non-domestic rating multiplier and the small business non-domestic rating multiplier for England for 2017/2018. (9 March 2017)

Non-Domestic Rating (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/327 (W.82)): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2017, remake, in relation to Wales, the provisions of the Non-Domestic Rating (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/1060) in order to reflect the separate administration of non-domestic rating in England and Wales and the separate application of Part III LGFA 1988 to England and Wales provided by s.140 LGFA 1988. (6 March 2017)

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

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Children's Services

Childcare Act 2006 (Provision of Information to Parents) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/249): these regulations prescribe an additional category of information relating to free childcare that English local authorities must provide to parents or prospective parents pursuant to their existing duty under s.12 of the Childcare Act 2006. They also introduce a duty on local authorities to publish the prescribed information on their website on a termly basis. In addition, the regulations place a time-limited obligation on local authorities to provide information about childcare providers that intend to deliver the extended entitlement to free childcare for young children of working parents from 1 September 2017. (24 February 2017)

S v Worcestershire CC (Special educational needs – special educational provision – naming school or other institution in EHC plan) [2017] UKUT 92 (AAC): this case raised a number of questions about the operation of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014. S, who was aged 17 and who had a statement of special educational needs, appealed against the FTT's dismissal of his appeal against the terms of his EHC plan. S complained that the EHC plan did not identify a post-16 educational placement and he said that he wished to attend a particular independent school. The Council argued that the school was not suitable and that S's SEN could be met at a state-funded FE college. The FTT stated that it had to resolve what was in its view an inconsistency between S’s wishes “and the provision considered by the Council to be suitable for him in the light of his academic attainment to date”. In determining the appropriate setting, the FTT said it needed to address: (a) the suitability of the proposed academic provision at the rival placements; (b) the suitability of the provision proposed by the parties for meeting S’s SEN; and (c) the respective costs of the rival placements. 
The UT held, allowing the appeal and remitting the case to the First-tier Tribunal for re-hearing, that the FTT had erred in law by failing to consider whether its decision called for it to order amendments to S’s EHC plan to make it workable and up-to-date. For that reason, its decision was set aside. The court gave general guidance to the FTT on the application of the obligations under s.19 CFA 2014 to have regard to the young person's views, wishes and feelings. The s.19 obligations were not high-level strategic functions – they were obligations which applied to and were designed for the benefit of specific children and young persons. There was no need for the FTT to complicate its business by expressly seeking to act in accordance with s.19. If the FTT discharged its obligations under its procedural rules, including the overriding objective, it would be doing as much as would be required if it were subject to the s.19 obligations. Also, the s.39 presumption in favour of a young person’s preferred placement did not apply where he sought an independent school that was not approved under s.41 CFA 2014. The test to be applied under the CFA 2014 was one of appropriateness – which school or other was it considered appropriate to specify. Where the terms of s.9 of the Education Act 1996 applied, the FTT must also act in accordance with the requirements of that section. (23 February 2017)

Cheshire East BC v PN (Flawed Local Authority Assessments) [2017] EWFC 20 (Fam Ct): this case concerned care proceedings regarding PN, an 11 month old girl who had sustained serious head injuries and significant emotional harm. The council's care plan proposed that PN was placed permanently with her paternal great aunt. PN's maternal aunt, H, opposed this placement and sought placement of PN with her and her partner. H sought a direction for a further assessment by an independent social worker, arguing that the Council's assessment of her was deficient. In the course of the proceedings, the court expressed its dismay in having to adjourn the final hearing and to delay the resolution of proceedings in respect of a very young child in order to remedy patent defects in the Council's assessments caused by social work that had, at best, been lackadaisical and, at worst, was in plain contravention of the applicable statutory guidance and long established good practice. Although an adjournment would result in further delay for PN's move to a permanent placement, the further assessments needed to be undertaken as a result of the Council's default and to proceed without them would be to proceed in a manner that was both unfair and antithetic to the aim of arriving at a fully informed decision as to the placement that best met PN's identified welfare needs, including her need to be protected from harm.
The judge stated that it was important for the Council to recognise that its failure to discharge its duties had consequences. The failure resulted not only in unnecessary and harmful delay but also had a human cost in terms of unnecessary upset, stress, confusion and, often, the further entrenchment of already entrenched positions. Further, by reason of the need to adjourn this hearing, it would no longer be possible to maintain fidelity to the principle of judicial continuity as the case would have to be re-allocated to the Designated Family Judge. The serious mistakes made by the Council in this case were of very real concern and must not be repeated. It was appropriate to publish an anonymised version of the judgment and to direct the Council's Head of Service for Children's Social Care to file and serve a statement explaining to the court precisely how these highly regrettable mistakes came to be made and the steps that the local authority intended to take to ensure that they were not repeated in the future. (3 March 2017)

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

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Civil Procedure

Serpes v Mayor & Communalty & Citizens of the City of London (Unreported, ChD): the court held that the billing authority was entitled to serve notices and reminders requesting payment of non-domestic rates at the relevant property as the owner's last known address. The authority was not obliged to make inquiries to discover the owner's location, and if she wished to be served at another address it was for her to inform the authority accordingly. The judge's decision could only be challenged on the basis of an error of law or principle. The demand notices, reminder notices and summonses were all served properly in accordance with s.233 LGA 1972 on S's last known address. Her argument that she did not receive them did not assist her. There had not been a procedural impropriety or unfairness. (2 March 2017)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (subscription required).

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

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Combined Authorities and Devolution

DCLG: Memorandum of Understanding on further devolution to London: the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister for London, the Mayor of London and the Leader of London Councils have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that covers congestion, infrastructure funding, business rates, criminal justice and a number of other areas. (8 March 2017)

Tees Valley Combined Authority (Functions) Order 2017 (SI 2017/250): this Order, which comes into force on 3 March 2017, confers on the Tees Valley Combined Authority in relation to its area functions corresponding to functions that the Mayor of London has in relation to Greater London. Those functions include the power to designate any area of land in Greater London as a mayoral development area, as well as the ability to decide that a mayoral development corporation (MDC) is to be the local planning authority for
some or all of the area and to make a scheme transferring to an MDC property, rights and liabilities of certain persons. The Mayor also has certain functions in relation to the membership of, appointment of, and removal of members from, the MDC. The Order also includes a number of transitional provisions in advance of the Mayor assuming their responsibilities on 8 May 2017. (2 March 2017)

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Order 2017 (SI 2017/251): this Order, which comes into force on 3 March 2017, establishes the mayoral Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) across the local government areas of Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It also provides for the CPCA's governance arrangements, including that the CPCA's area is to have a directly elected Mayor, and for the date of the first and subsequent elections to the role of Mayor and the term of office. The Order also provides for certain functions of the CPCA’s constituent councils and certain public authorities to be exercised by the CPCA, and certain specified functions of the CPCA to be exercisable only by the CPCA Mayor. The Secretary of State decided not to implement all of the proposals that formed part of the scheme, which was consulted on by the seven councils. In order to devolve the powers agreed in the Devolution Deal (regarding bus franchising, business rates, and skills) and implement the commitment at Autumn Statement to extend borrowing powers to cover the Combined Authority’s new functions, the Government will seek Parliament’s approval to further legislation. (2 March 2017)

Draft West Midlands Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2017: this Order, which is due to come into force on 8 May 2017, provides for the conferral of functions of local authorities and other public authorities on the West Midlands CA. The functions conferred include: transport; housing and regeneration; air quality; smokefree premises, places and vehicles; culture and anti-social behaviour; and functions corresponding to those of the Mayor of London in relation to the designation of a Mayoral development area. (6 March 2017)

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

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Communities

LGA: People, culture, place – The role of culture in placemaking: this publication highlights how councils are using culture to create a sense of shared identity and purpose in their areas, and to tackle their big issues of the day. It contains 10 case studies where officer and political leadership has combined to develop innovative practice using cultural activities to bring about positive changes to their places. The examples reveal how communities can draw on their cultural and historic strengths to tackle modern issues. (23 February 2017)

LGA: New conversations – LGA guide to engagement: 'engagement' means anything that creates a stronger two-way relationship between council and communities, from formal consultation to more deliberative and informal listening exercises. This members' guide provides advice on how to rebuild trust in relationships that have broken down and help both councillors and their councils to become better at listening and responding to resident concerns. (27 February 2017)

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

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Democratic Services

Cabinet Office: A democracy that works for everyone – Survivors of domestic abuse: this policy paper sets out proposals that will make the anonymous electoral registration scheme in England and Wales more accessible to those escaping domestic abuse, and ensure that survivors can participate in the democratic process. The measures include plans to update the list of court and other orders that are acceptable as evidence of the risk to an applicant, and lowering the seniority required for an attestor from the police or social services. The deadline for comments on the proposals is 26 May 2017. (3 March 2017)

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

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Economic Development

RSA Inclusive Growth Commission: Making our economy work for everyone: the Inclusive Growth Commission is an independent inquiry designed to understand and identify practical ways to make local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. Its final report sets out the Commission's framework and recommendations for achieving inclusive growth. These are addressed equally to central government and to councils and UK city regions. (7 March 2017)

DCLG: Midlands Growth Deals: factsheets with details of the 10 new Growth Deals in the Midlands which will help to fund local projects. (9 March 2017)

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

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Education

LGA: Principles underpinning good careers advice and guidance: the LGA wants to support the Government to ensure that the careers offer matches the needs of local residents and employers through devolved employment and skills provision. Based on the analysis of the careers landscape and discussions with councils, this position paper sets out what it would see as the five guiding principles underpinning a good careers system for all ages and the role it would like to see councils play. (16 February 2017)

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

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Employment

DBEIS: Code of Practice – Industrial action ballots and notice to employers: this CoP provides practical guidance to trade unions and employers to promote the improvement of industrial relations and good practice in the conduct of trade union industrial action ballots. The Code has been updated to reflect the legal provisions on industrial action ballots and information to employers made by the Trade Union Act 2016 and supersedes the Code of Practice on Industrial Action and Information to Employers issued in 2005. The Code itself imposes no legal obligations and failure to observe it does not by itself render anyone liable to proceedings, but s.207 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 provides that any provisions of the Code are to be admissible in evidence and are to be taken into account in proceedings before any court where it considers them relevant. (24 February 2017)

DBEIS: Code of Practice – Picketing: this CoP provides practical guidance on picketing in trade disputes for those contemplating, organising or taking part in a picket or activities associated with picketing. It has been updated to reflect the legal provisions made by the Trade Union Act 2016 and supersedes the Code of Practice on Picketing issued in 1992. This Code outlines aspects of the law on picketing: sections B and C outline provisions of the civil and criminal law and give guidance on good practice. Section D describes the role of the police in enforcing the law. Sections E, F and G also give guidance on good practice in relation to the conduct of particular aspects of picketing and certain activities associated with picketing. The Code itself imposes no legal obligations and failure to observe it does not by itself render anyone liable to proceedings, but any provisions of the Code are admissible in evidence and to be taken into account in proceedings before any court, employment tribunal or Central Arbitration Committee where relevant. (24 February 2017)

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

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Finance

HM Treasury: Spring Budget 2017: the Chancellor has delivered his Spring Budget for 2017. This is the last Spring Budget – from 2018, there will be a Spring Statement followed by an Autumn Budget. Key announcements for local authorities include:

  • DCLG's resource budget will reduce by a third (£2.8bn) over the remainder of this Parliament; 
  • An extra £2bn for social care over next three years, with £1bn available in 2017/18. See also the policy paper setting out the allocations. 
  • The Government will also set out proposals in a Green Paper to put the social care system on a more secure and sustainable long-term footing; 
  • Additional £325m to allow the first NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans to proceed 
  • Additional £20m over the Parliament to support organisations working to combat domestic violence and abuse, and to support victims, building on commitment to bring forward a Domestic Violence and Abuse Act; 
  • Business rates: in addition to the announced £3.6bn transitional relief, there will be: 
    • £435m for firms affected by increases in business rates; 
    • £300m of discretionary relief, to allow local authorities to provide support to individual hard cases in their local area  
    • Pubs with rateable value of less than £100,000 to get a £1,000 discount on rates they pay; 
    • Any business losing existing relief will not pay more than £50pm.

For more details see DCLG's Business Rates Information Letter 2/2017 and the Business Rates section, above.

See also the LGA's Spring Budget 2017 on the day briefing, that highlights the key measures for local authorities. (8 March 2017)

New Policy Institute: Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas – Can we survive to 2020?: this report, commissioned by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) paints a picture of local government finance up until 2020 against the backdrop of the past five years and identifies the challenge it presents to the liveability and public realm services most closely associated with APSE. These include local government functions such as waste, recycling, streetscene, leisure, parks, recreation, environmental health, roads and street lighting upon which everyone who lives or works in an area depends. (8 March 2017) 

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

LGA: An inclusive service – The twenty-first century fire and rescue service: the LGA is committed to support fire and rescue authorities to recruit a more diverse firefighter workforce and change the perception of what a firefighter does. This document sets out the changes in the role of a firefighter, outlines activities that are underway in fire and rescue authorities and suggestions for further areas of work to develop the recruitment and retention of a more diverse firefighter workforce. (7 March 2017)

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

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Health and Social Care

LGA: Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) – How do you know if STPs are making a positive impact?: ‘must know' information for lead members on the role for elected members in the STP process and what plans may mean for lead members and local communities. (22 February 2017)

The Health Foundation: The social care funding gap – Implications for local health care reform: this briefing offers an analysis of the size of the gap in adult social care funding in England – revealed as at least £2bn in 2017/18. This puts unacceptable pressure on vulnerable and older people and their families, and risks unravelling the plans to put the NHS and care services on a more sustainable footing. The research has used the social care gap estimates in many of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to produce an estimate of the national funding gap which is based on detailed local analysis. (3 March 23017)

Care and Support (Choice of Accommodation, Charging and Financial Assessment) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/214 (W.58)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 10 April 2017, amend various regulations made under Parts 4 and 5 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The amendments include clarification of the local authority’s duty to provide choice of accommodation under reg.2 of the Care and Support (Choice of Accommodation) (Wales) Regulations 2015 to make it clear that the duty does not apply where a person’s need for the provision of accommodation is short term, defined as a period not exceeding 8 weeks. (27 February 2017)

R (Davey) v Oxfordshire CC [2017] EWHC 354 (Admin) (Admin Ct): D, a severely disabled man, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to reduce his personal budget and/or to revise his care and support plan under to the Care Act 2014. The effect of this decision was to reduce the personal budget for D's care from £1,651pw to £950pw. The Council said that D could spend more time alone without the assistance of his visiting personal assistants and could reduce their rates of pay. D contended that the reduction breached the Council's obligations under the 2014 Act and/or were Wednesbury unreasonable.
The court held, refusing the application, that the court's task was to determine whether the Council had acted unlawfully, by reference to established criteria for assessing lawfulness of the conduct of the local authority in the field of adult social care. The updated needs assessment had resulted in a substantial reduction in the personal budget D had previously enjoyed, which might impose unwelcome change or even strictures upon D, but that did not mean that the process had been unlawful. The Council's approach of seeking to develop independence and reducing anxiety by providing for D to spend more time alone was not unlawful. There was no legal error which warranted interfering with the Council's decision. (27 February 2017)

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

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Housing

London Fire Brigade: Brigade urges ‘lessons to be learned’ after Lakanal fire safety prosecution: reports that Southwark Crown Court has fined Southwark LBC £270,000 with £300,000 court costs after the Council pleading guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005. The prosecution was brought by London Fire Brigade following a fire at a council-owned tower block in 2009 in which six people, including three children, died. The Brigade's fire safety inspectors visited the building found a number of structural and fire safety issues which showed that fire safety requirements were not being met, putting the lives of those living inside the block at risk of death or serious injury. (28 February 2017)

R (Halvai) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC (Unreported, Admin Ct): H, who was disabled and lived in specially adapted accommodation, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to refuse her application for discretionary housing payment. The court held, granting the application, that the Council had acted unlawfully in refusing discretionary housing payment to H. It had failed to apply its own policy in not understanding that discretionary housing payment could be a long-term solution, had failed to consider all the relevant factors, had not considered H's particular circumstances and had failed to consider the exercise of its residual discretion. (9 March 2017)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (subscription required).

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

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Performance

Cardiff University Centre for Local & Regional Government Research: Rising to the challenge – An independent evaluation of the LGA’s Corporate Peer Challenge programme: the LGA's Corporate Peer Challenge tool for improvement is a process commissioned by a council and involves a small team of local government peers spending time at the council to provide challenge and share learning. The process involves engaging with a wide range of people connected with the council and the findings are delivered immediately. This paper, presented to the LGA's Improvement and Innovation Board, provides an independent assessment of the effectiveness, impact, and value for money of the CPC programme. The LGA has also published its response to the Centre's recommendations. (8 March 2017) 

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

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Planning Procedure

Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Permission in Principle etc) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/276): new ss.58A, 59A and 70(2ZZA) to 70(2ZZC) TCPA 1990, inserted by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, introduce a new form of planning consent, permission in principle, into the town and country planning regime for England. Permission in principle on its own does not allow development of the land, but where permission in principle is granted, an applicant may obtain planning permission by applying for technical details consent. These regulations, which come into force on 27 March 2017, make a number of consequential or miscellaneous amendments to four Acts in order to implement this new planning consent route. These include amending Sch.12A LGA 1972 to provide that a local planning authority’s own application for permission in principle should not be exempt information at a local authority meeting. (6 March 2017)

York City Council v Trinity One (Leeds) Ltd [2017] EWHC 318 (Ch) (ChD): the court held that an application under s.106BA TCPA 1990 to modify an obligation under s.106 to provide affordable housing had retrospective effect. Whilst the developer was currently liable to pay the Council a sum of money in lieu of providing affordable housing under a s.106 agreement, if its appeal against the refusal to modify the agreement by removing the affordable housing obligation was successful, that would extinguish its liability to the Council. (24 February 2017)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (subscription required).

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

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Procurement

Welsh Government: Code of Practice – Ethical employment in supply chains: this Code commits public, private and third sector organisations to a set of actions that tackle illegal and unfair employment practices. The new Code covers six key subjects, containing 12 commitments, ranging from unlawful and unethical practices to good and best practice, with a focus on guaranteeing good employment practices for the millions of employees involved in public sector supply chains. All organisations that receive funding from Welsh Government, either directly or via grants or contracts, will be expected to sign up to the Code and agree to comply with the 12 commitments designed to eliminate modern slavery and support ethical employment practices. Other organisations in Wales are also encouraged to sign up. (9 March 2017)

Bevan Brittan's Byte Size Procurement Updates – The Selection Questionnaire: we have published two more articles in our "SQ Bytes" series that looks at the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) issued by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS):

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

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Public Health

DfE: New funding to boost schools facilities and healthy lifestyles: the Education Secretary has announced that schools are to receive £415m to help pupils benefit from healthier, more active lifestyles. Primary, secondary and sixth-form colleges will be able to use the funding to pay for facilities to support PE, after-school activities and healthy eating. (28 February 2017)

LGA: Suicide prevention – A guide for local authorities: councils have been active on suicide prevention work in recent years. Following the publication of the 2012 strategy, councils were given the responsibility of developing local suicide action plans through their work with health and wellbeing boards. A deadline of 2017 was set and by the end of 2016, 95 per cent of areas had plans in places or were in the process of drawing them up. This publication looks at councils' role in suicide prevention work; it includes a number of case studies. (21 February 2017)

LGA: Air quality – A briefing for directors of public health: Directors of Public Health have a crucial role to play as leaders and influencers, shaping how local approaches can help clean up air in their area most effectively. This briefing provides information to help DoPHs consider the appropriate public health response to air pollution in their area. There is extensive evidence about the health impacts of air pollution, growing media and public interest and an indicator on mortality attributed to particulate matter air pollution in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. (1 March 2017)

Draft Local Authorities (Public Health Functions and Entry to Premises by Local Healthwatch Representatives) (Amendment) Regulations 2017: these draft regulations, which are due to come into force on 1 April 2017, amend SI 2013/351 to remove the time limit on local authorities' duty to ensure that five health and development assessment and reviews, as set out in the Healthy Child Programme, are offered to pregnant mothers and children between the ages of 0 – 5. The duties were originally set to expire on 31 March 2017. (1 March 2017)

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

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Regulatory Services

R v Recycled Materials Supplies Ltd [2017] EWCA Crim 58 (CA): RMS, a waste management company, appealed against its conviction on two counts of failing to comply with the terms of an Environmental Permit Condition, contrary to reg.38(2) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. RMS carried out its business under two environmental permits (EPs), one issued by Newham LBC and one by the Environment Agency (EA). The Council's permit authorised activities identified by reference to Sch.1 Part 2 Part B of the Regulations; it also contained a number of conditions. The EA's permit was wider, authorising the company to carry out waste operations in respect of a greater quantity and variety of materials. In 2014 the Council brought the instant prosecution, alleging that the company had breached the conditions in its EP. Following a ruling on the law by the trial judge, RMS pleaded guilty and was fined £2,250 on each of the two counts. RMS appealed, submitting that the Council and the EA could not jointly regulate the same activity; its activities were properly regulated by the EA, and the Council's permit was therefore invalid, and because it processed a wider variety of materials than bricks, tiles and concrete, the Council had no jurisdiction to issue a permit or impose conditions; also, if its machines were "mobile plant", they were "waste mobile plant" within the meaning of reg.2 and were therefore regulated by the EA and not the Council.
The court held, allowing the appeal, that the Council had no jurisdiction to issue its EP or to seek to impose the conditions it did while the plant in question was being operated as an integral and effectively permanent part of the waste operation because the activities at RMS's site involved processing more than just tiles, bricks and concrete and were not Part B activities. There was no scope for joint regulation of the activities being carried out by RMS, including the use of the three items of plant that were the specified subjects of the Council's EP. The regulator empowered to exercise the regulatory functions was the EA and not the LBN; it was the EA that had authority under reg.32(1) to exercise the regulatory functions, including the issuing of its EP for the waste operation. RMS's machinery, when being used as an integral and effectively permanent part of the recovery of waste, was not being used on a Part B activity and was therefore not subject to the authority of the Council. The fact that the Council had issued the permit would have become relevant if the plant had in fact been used for what could substantially and realistically be called a Part B activity; on the facts, that seemed unlikely to happen unless the machinery was moved from the present operation and deployed elsewhere. On the assumption that the plant was mobile plant at all, it was not being used to carry out a Part B activity but was being used to carry out a waste operation. It would therefore fall to be categorised as "waste mobile plant" and was therefore not within the sphere of the Council's authority under reg.32(2)(b). (24 February 2017)

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

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Traffic and Transport

Welsh Government: Proposals to improve local bus services in Wales: seeks views on proposals about how to improve local bus services. These include: improved arrangements for planning and delivering local bus services; establishing service quality and infrastructure standards; funding to support the Welsh bus industry; and delivering an integrated transport system which improves accessibility and ticketing. The consultation closes on 32 May 2017. (8 March 2017)

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

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

Authority Update 4/11/16

by Claire Booth

Brief details of recent Government policy and legislative developments relevant to those involved in local government work

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