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    Health and Social Care
    Adult Social Services     Housing
    Charities    Meetings
    Children's Services    Members
    Delivery of Services    Planning
    Economic Development    Public Health
    Education    Standards
    Equality and Discrimination    Tortious Liability
    Finance    Wales
    Governance   

Access to Information

ICO: Debden Parish Council (Local government (Parish council)) (Decision notice FS50671070): the complainant made a freedom of information request to the Parish Council for copies of some Recreation Ground Trust (RGT) invoices relating to legal advice provided to the council. The RGT was a registered charity that administered land owned by the Parish Council in trust in accordance with the Open Spaces Act 1906. The trustees were the parish councillors and the secretary / administrator of the RGT was also the clerk of the Council. The Council responded that the invoices were addressed to the RGT and were not subject to the FOIA. The IC was asked to determine whether the information was held by the council for the purposes of s.1 FOIA 2000. The council explained that it did not have a say in the running of the RGT – it was the Trustees that had the sole responsibility for the administration of the charity, and were personally liable for their decisions and had to act in the best interests of the charity, not the council. The RGT's secretary held the invoices and submitted them to the Trustees of the RGT at the RGT meetings.
The IC ruled that he was satisfied that the council did not hold the requested invoices. The invoices were held by the RGT as a separate entity to the council. He therefore did not require the council to take any steps. (9 November 2017)

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

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Adult Social Services

NHS Digital: Safeguarding adults annual report, England 2016/17: this report presents information about adults at risk for whom safeguarding concerns or enquiries were opened during the reporting period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, and case details for safeguarding enquiries which concluded during the reporting period. A safeguarding concern is where a local authority is notified about a risk of abuse, follows up the notification with information gathering, and if appropriate, instigates an investigation (enquiry) under the local safeguarding procedures. (15 November 2017)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Kirtpal Kaur Aujla.

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Charities

Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Conversion) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1231): these regulations, which come into force on 1 January 2018, allow charitable companies and Community Interest Companies (CICs) to convert to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) structure under s.228 of the Charities Act 2011. The CIO structure is designed to offer a practical alternative for charities seeking the protection and practicality of incorporation without having to meet the dual registration and reporting requirements of the Charity Commission and Companies House.
See also the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Consequential Amendments) Order 2017 (SI 2017/1231) that permits a CIC to appeal a decision by the Charity Commission to refuse an application for its conversion into a CIO and its registration as a charity.
The Charity Commission has issued guidance about a phased timetable allowing charitable companies to convert to CIOs. (8 December 2017)

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

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Children's Services

HSE: Local authority fined after social workers assaulted: reports that Westminster Magistrates' Court has fined Brent LBC £100,000 with costs of £10,918.88, after the council pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s.2(1). The prosecution followed an incident when two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child they were visiting. The HSE investigation found that the council had failed to follow its corporate lone working policy or violence and aggression guidance. No risk assessment was completed and staff were not trained accordingly. The council had also failed to add an aggression marker to make the social workers aware of the hazards posed by the mother who was known to have a history of violence. (29 November 2017)

DfE: Confidence in practice – Child and family social work assessment and accreditation system: sets out the Government's response to the December 2016 consultation that sought views on a proposed national assessment and accreditation system that would introduce a new practice-focused methodology to establish the knowledge and skills that child and family social workers need for statutory child and family social work. The response states that, in light of respondents' comments about possible unintended consequences, the rollout of the new system will be phased in. (5 December 2017)

Ofsted: Inspecting local authority children's services from 2018: Ofsted has announced that a new method of inspecting local authority children’s services will begin in January 2018. Inspections of local authority children’s services will look at how well local authorities are supporting and protecting vulnerable children in their area. The new approach is more proportionate, risk-based and flexible than before, allowing Ofsted to prioritise inspection where it is most needed. Local authorities will also be asked to evaluate the quality and impact of their social work practice annually, as well as having a formal yearly conversation with Ofsted about performance. The inspectorate will use this information to help inform decisions about how and when to inspect each local authority. (29 November 2017)

DCLG: Troubled Families Programme – Evaluation overview policy report: summarises key findings from the latest reports from the various strands of the national evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme 2015 to 2020. The Programme is working with families who have a wide range of problems, such as poor school attendance and attainment, mental and physical health problems, crime and anti-social behaviour, and domestic violence and abuse. The programme is geared toward reducing demand and dependency of these complex families on costly reactive public services and delivering better value for the taxpayer.
See also the Financial framework for the Troubled Families Programme: January 2018 onwards, which financial framework takes effect from January 2018 and replaces previous versions.  It now includes the early help service transformation maturity model and toolkit that was developed with local authorities and their partners and launched in November 2016. (8 December 2017)

DfE: Children’s Services Omnibus – Wave 2 research report: presents the findings from the second wave of the DfE Children’s Services Omnibus Survey. The survey explored senior local authority (LA) leaders’ perceptions on, and activities relating to, a range of policy areas. These included children’s social care; early years and childcare provision in authorities; and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. (27 November 2017)

DfE: Children’s services – Spending, 2010-11 to 2015-16: this report identifies the changes in demand and spending faced by local councils during the years in scope. This is based on quantitative research, including statistical analysis of information on spending by local councils, and the number of children in need and looked after children. It focuses on spending on services for children in need and looked after children specifically, which represent around two thirds of the total spending on children’s services.
See also the LGA's Industrial strategy briefing, which summarises the main announcements in the Industrial Strategy of relevance to local government and sets out the LGA’s response. (28 November 2017)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Kirtpal Kaur Aujla.

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Delivery of Services

NLGN: A  change-making vision for local government: there is an increasingly widespread view that radical reinvention is required if councils are to meet the many complex challenges they face over coming years; there is also a growing consensus that this needs to happen whether central government actively supports such change or not. This essay contends that the reinvention required is not the redesign of rigid structures or the institutional remodelling of organisations but must be a change which considers function over form and focuses on raising social impact above all else. This, it argues, involves nothing less than a major cultural shift towards three core values: creativity, collaboration and self-determination. (27 November 2017)

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

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Economic Development

DBEIS: The UK's industrial strategy: this strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK, describing how it will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future. It states that it will work in partnership with places to develop Local Industrial Strategies, which will be developed locally and agreed with the Government. Areas with a Mayoral Combined Authority will have a single strategy led by the mayor and supported by Local Enterprise Partnerships; in those parts of the country without a mayor, the development of the strategy will be led by the LEP. (27 November 2017)

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

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Education

DfE: Careers strategy – Making the most of everyone’s skills and talents: sets out the Government's plan for raising the quality of careers provision in England. Every school and college in the country will aim to have a dedicated careers leader in place by the start of the new school year,  backed by £4m of funding, who can give advice on the best training routes and up-to-date information on the jobs market, helping young people make decisions about their future. The plan will also boost careers support in the areas of the country most in need, with £5m funding to create 20 careers hubs across the country that will link schools and colleges with local universities and employers to help broaden pupils’ horizons. (4 December 2017)

LGSCO: Boy misses two terms of education because of lack of support from council: the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has reminded councils of their duty to monitor and ensure education provided to children educated out of school is suitable, following an investigation into a complaint against Essex CC. The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for failing to ensure the boy had suitable education for nearly seven months, during the time it arranged for a care provider to deliver his education; it also found that because of the council’s faults, there was a 10 month delay in the boy receiving the additional provision that was set out in his EHC Plan. The council has agreed to apologise and pay the mother a total £3,800, to be used for the boy’s educational benefit. (6 December 2017)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

DWP: Improving lives – The future of work, health and disability: sets out plans to transform employment prospects for disabled people and those with long term health conditions over the next 10 years. It includes the Government’s commitment to see one million more disabled people in work over the next 10 years. (30 November 2017)

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

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Finance

DCLG: Consultation on the proposed changes to the prudential framework of capital finance – Clarification on proposed changes: Q&A: answers a number of questions from local authorities about the plans to update statutory guidance on Local Authorities Investments and on Minimum Revenue Provision. The consultation closes on 22 December 2017; however, DCLG states that it does not want to do anything that makes it more difficult for any local authority to balance their budgets in 2018 to 2019 and so it is encouraging all local authorities to discuss any concerns that they may have in advance of formally responding to the consultation. (29 November 2017)

HC Communities & Local Government Committee: Reforming local authority needs assessment: the Committee commissioned LG Futures to conduct an independent analysis suggesting ways in which the current needs and funding assessments for councils could be made simpler and more transparent. This report addresses the issues in four papers: Simplifying the needs assessment formula; Simplifying the funding model; Review of needs assessment data sources; and Business rates retention and the reset. It identifies a method for reducing the number of indicators used in the needs assessment formula and suggests that there is scope to make the funding model more transparent by allocating funds to councils proportionate to need/resources. It also highlights the potential issues with updating some of the data used in the needs assessment formula, which are now out of date. Finally, the research models two different scenarios for how often the system could be 'reset', compares the outcomes of these for councils and weighs up the advantages and disadvantages of each. (28 November 2017)

CIPFA: Fraud and corruption tracker 2017: CIPFA has published its latest survey of fraud, bribery and corruption in the UK’s public sector and the actions being taken to prevent it. It shows that in 2016/17, local authorities detected and prevented 75,000 fraud cases, saving the public purse £336.2m. It also reveals that the three greatest fraud risk areas for local government are: procurement; adult social care; and council tax single person discount. (24 November 2017)

House of Commons Library: Local government – Commercial property investments: this briefing paper sets out the process and the legal background for local authority commercial property investment, notes recent media commentary, and presents some reported examples of large-scale commercial property activity. It notes some of the potential risks of this activity. It also includes some details of previous episodes of local government financial innovations that are often quoted as ‘cautionary tales’ in the current context, such as: the Hammersmith ‘interest rate swaps’ episode in the late 1980s; local authority investments in Icelandic banks in the late 2000s; and recent controversy over lender option, borrower option (LOBO) loans. (16 November 2017)

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

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Governance

House of Commons Library: Local government in England – Structures: this updated research briefing contains basic details of: the structure of local government (counties, districts and unitary authorities); the electoral system, ward structures, and the franchise; the divisions of functions between local authorities; the local government finance settlement; and the process for changing local government boundaries and structures. (1 December 2017)

Home Office: Enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to sit and vote on Combined Fire and Rescue Authorities: seeks views on a proposal to vary the combination schemes of FRAs established under s.2 or continued in existence under s.4 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 to implement the ‘representation model’ of the Policing and Crime Act 2017. The 2017 Act enables a PCC to be represented on the FRA (outside London) with voting rights, where the FRA agrees (the representation model). In addition, the provisions of the 2017 Act set out the procedure that must be followed where a PCC makes a request to sit on the FRA. While these provisions apply to County and Metropolitan FRAs as of 3 April 2017, Combined FRAs established (or continued in existence) under the 2004 Act must have their combination schemes amended for these provisions to apply. The proposal will enable PCCs and Combined FRAs to consider the representation model as an option for promoting greater collaboration between the two services. The consultation closes on 15 January 2018. (27 November 2017)

Home Office: Complaints about Police and Crime Commissioners – Summary of consultation responses and next steps: sets out the Government's response to the December 2015 consultation on the complaints process for Police and Crime Panels when seeking to resolve non-serious (i.e. non-criminal) complaints made against a PCC. It states that the Government will now take forward non-statutory guidance to clarify the definition of a complaint and the parameters of informal resolution, ensure that wider police approaches to dealing with unreasonable complainant conduct can be used in response to vexatious complaints made against PCCs, and will introduce the power of investigation for Police and Crime Panels in relation to non-serious complaints where possible.  (29 November 2017)

West Northamptonshire Joint Committee (Revocation) Order 2017 (SI 2017/1211): this Order, which comes into force on 1 January 2018, revokes SI 2008/1572) which established a Joint Strategic Planning Committee in West Northamptonshire, with the constituent authorities of Northamptonshire CC, Northampton BC, Daventry DC and South Northamptonshire DC support the preparation of a joint local plan to address the objectively assessed needs for housing and employment in the area. The joint local plan has now been prepared and was adopted on 15 December 2014. The Committee has decided that it has achieved the purpose for which it was established so the authorities have now made a request to the Secretary of State that the Committee should now be dissolved. (7 December 2017)

Fire and Rescue Authority (Membership) Order 2017 (SI 2017/1165): this Order makes amendments in relation to the membership of three fire and rescue authorities. It amends Sch.10 to the Local Government Act 1985 to reduce the number of members to be appointed to the West Midlands FRA by each of its constituent councils. It also amends Hampshire FRA’s combination scheme to enable the FRA to appoint a police and crime commissioner whose police area wholly or partly coincides with the area of the Authority, as a member of the FRA and to alter the FRA’s quorum arrangements. In addition, the Order amends Dorset and Wiltshire FRA's combination scheme to reduce the number of its members from 30 to 18. (28 November 2017) 

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

DH: Government response to the House of Commons Health Committee report Brexit and health and social care – people & process: sets out the Government’s response to the report on the impact of Brexit on health and social care that was published by the Commons Health Committee in April 2017, chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP. It identifies the main policy areas that are affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU for which DH has the lead within Government, as the health and care workforce, medicines regulation and the supply chain, reciprocal healthcare and public health. (1 December 2017)

CMA: Care homes market study: the CMA has published its final findings following an extensive review of whether the residential care homes sector is working well for older people and their families. The year-long market study found that the current system for providing care is not sustainable.  As a result, the CMA is taking direct action under consumer protection law, and has also made a range of recommendations to government and others. (30 November 2017)

Which?: Half of care homes failing in parts of England: analysis of CQC data finds that more than half of care home places in some parts of England are in facilities rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’. The research shows that almost nine in 10 council areas across England could see a shortfall in care home places by 2022. It also raises questions around whether some councils will be able to continue to meet their statutory duty to offer local authority-funded individuals at least one suitable care home place that will meet the prospective resident’s needs. (29 November 2017)

Centre for Ageing Better: Room to improve – The role of home adaptations in improving later life: this report finds that making small changes to older people’s homes, such as installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers, alongside carrying out simple home repairs, could play a significant role in relieving pressure on the NHS and social care and reduce costs by millions of pounds each year. It argues that making these kinds of small changes to homes earlier, alongside repairs to homes, should be a greater priority for local services, and could help to avoid or delay use of NHS and social care. (28 November 2017)

LGA: Managing transfers of care frequently asked questions: the LGA is working with councils and the social care sector to identify solutions to effectively manage patient discharge from hospital to home. These FAQs includes appendices on: DTOC expectations for councils; delayed transfers of care measures; and understanding and making use of the data available. (29 November 2017)

Welsh Government: People in residential care to keep even more of their money: the Welsh  Social Care Minister has announced that the amount of money which people in Wales can keep when in residential care will increase from £30,000 to £40,000 from April 2018. The move is part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to increase the capital limit used by local authorities who charge for residential care from £24,000 to £50,000 during the current Assembly term. The increase is being delivered in a phased approach. (6 December 2017)

R (Care England) v Essex CC [2017] EWHC 3035 (Admin) (Admin Ct): CE, a charity and a representative body for care home operators, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to increase some of the fees which it paid to the operators of care homes. CE contended that the Council had breached its duty under s.5(1) & (2) of the Care Act 2014 to promote the efficient and effective operation of a market in services for meeting care and support needs, failed to follow government guidance and that the decision was unreasonable.
The court dismissed the application. The Council's day-to-day dealings with care home providers and the recent tender exercise provided ample evidence that fee levels for care and support services were appropriate to provide the delivery of the agreed care packages with agreed quality of care. The fact that the seven years without fee increases under the old framework agreements had resulted in few care home closures, and even fewer for financial reasons, was potentially relevant, and the weight to be given to that consideration was a matter for the Council. CE's contention that the Council had failed to comply with the Guidance because "the fees are set at a level which was significantly below the actual costs of providing care" used words that were not taken directly from the Guidance; the Guidance was lengthy and detailed and it was neither necessary nor appropriate to interpolate words which were not to be found in it. CE's case was that there was a certain level of increase which was necessary if the s.5 duty was to be met. What that level was (assuming there was one), and whether it was more or less than the level of the increases decided on in July 2016, was not a judgment which the court could easily make on an application for judicial review, and certainly not on the evidence in this case. (1 December 2017)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Planning Delivery Fund – Supporting joint working, high quality design and innovation: this prospectus invites local authorities and third sector organisations to submit bids for an initial £11m of resource funding to support ambitious authorities in areas of high housing plan for new homes and infrastructure. This will equip them with the requisite resources to deliver the agenda set out in the Housing White Paper and the Autumn Budget. There are three funding streams: Joint Working Fund; design Quality Fund; and Innovation Fund. All local planning authorities (including development corporations, mayoral areas and combined authorities) are eligible to bid into the three funding streams, whether individually or in partnership. Third sector organisations (on their own or in partnership with local authorities) are also invited to submit proposals. The closing date for expressions of interest is 11 January 2018.
The Government has also announced a package of measures to boost local authority planning capacity, support councils to take a proactive role in planning and encourage ambition and leadership in the delivery of new communities.
It has also published a consultation on draft New Towns Act 1981 (Local Authority Oversight) Regulations which will enable the creation of locally led New Town Development Corporations, and help speed up the delivery of new garden towns. The closing date for comments is 2 January 2018. (4 December 2017)

DCLG: Government to lead national effort to end rough sleeping: announces a new Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel made up of homelessness experts, charities and local government, that will support the Ministerial Taskforce to help develop a national strategy as part of the Government’s commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it altogether by 2027. (30 November 2017)

National Assembly for Wales: Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been given final approval by the National Assembly for Wales and will now go forward for Royal Assent. The Bill abolishes all variations of the Right to Buy, including the Preserved Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire, in order to protect the stock of social housing in Wales from further reduction. The abolition will not come into force until at least one year after Royal Assent; however, to encourage investment in new homes, the rights will end for homes that are new to the social housing stock, and therefore have no existing tenants, two months after Royal Assent. (5 December 2017) 

Draft Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2017: Part 2 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a power enabling a First-tier Tribunal to make a banning order against a residential landlord or property agent who has been convicted of a banning order offence, following an application by the local housing authority. This draft Order, which is scheduled to come into force on 6 April 2018, specifies the criminal offences which are banning order offences for the purposes of the 2016 Act. A person who is subject to a banning order is banned from letting housing, engaging in letting agency work, engaging in property management work or doing two or  more of those activities. (1 December 2017)

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

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Meetings

R (Skelton) v Winchester Crown Court [2017] EWHC 3118 (Admin) (Admin Ct): S applied for judicial review of the Crown Court's refusal to state a case on her appeal from the magistrates' court of an offence of common assault. S complained that the Crown Court should have dealt with a defence of lawful self-defence and failed to do so, thus rendering her conviction unsafe. The claim related to an incident at a meeting of the local Police & Crime Panel that was being held in the county council's offices. The prosecution alleged that S  had tried to disrupt the meeting, and had refused to leave when asked. A police community support officer (PCSO) and a senior police officer had escorted S from the hall, and once outside the hall S had kicked the PCSO in the shin. The Crown Court preferred the prosecution's evidence that S had kicked the PCSO as had been alleged, she had kicked him in retaliation, the question of whether lawful force had been used to remove her from the hall did not arise since the assault occurred after she had been removed, and that she had not raised any issue of lawful self-defence in her evidence. S contended that it was incumbent on the Crown Court to determine whether the PCSO was entitled to remove S from the hall by force, and that the court had erred in failing to consider the defence of self-defence.
The court held, dismissing the claim, that the questions raised did not properly fall within the High Court's jurisdiction to entertain an appeal by way of case stated, and that the Crown Court's refusal to state a case was not inappropriate or unlawful. The court had not erred in concluding that S's use of force was unlawful, and that there was no lawful justification for that use of force. S's questions, although framed as if they were questions of law, were all questions that went to its findings of fact and so were misconceived and academic or futile. (5 December 2017)

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

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Members

LGA: Submission to the consultation on disqualification criteria for councillors and mayors: DCLG issued a consultation in September 2017 on proposals to strengthen rules to prevent anyone found guilty of serious crimes from serving on councils. The LGA has published its formal response which supports the proposal to disbar people who are on the Sex Offenders Register, but recommends that this should apply equally across all holders of elective office and Members of the House of Lords rather than just to councillors and mayors. (30 November 2017)

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

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Planning

Mayor of London: Draft London Plan: the Mayor of London has launched his draft Spatial Development Strategy for London, which shapes how London evolves and develops over the next 20-25 years. All planning decisions should follow London Plan policies, and it sets a policy framework for local plans across London. It covers a number of issues, including: housing; fire safety; pubs; public toilets; green belt and open space; transport; and tall buildings. The draft Plan is open for consultation – the closing dates for comments is 2 March 2018. (27 November 2017)

Dover DC v CPRE Kent [2017] UKSC 79 (Sup Ct): this case considered a local planning authority's legal duty to state the reasons for its decision to go against the advice of its own professional advisers and grant permission for a controversial development, and the legal consequences of a breach of such duty.
The Court of Appeal had allowed CPRE's application for judicial review of the Council's decision to grant permission for a development of over 500 dwellings. The planning officers had recommended that the number of dwellings be reduced but the Planning Committee had rejected this recommendation and granted permission. CPRE was granted permission to appeal on the ground that the reasons given for the Committee's decision were insufficient.
The court held, dismissing the Council's appeal and quashing the permission, that where a planning application involved EIA development, then the authority had a duty under the EIA Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1824) to publish its decision and set out the reasons for it. In addition, a local authority officer making any decision involving the "grant [of] a permission or licence" had a duty under the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2095) to produce a written record of the decision along with the reasons for the decision, and this covered, but was not limited to, the grant of planning permission. The provision of reasons was an intrinsic part of the procedure, essential to ensure effective public participation, and the appropriate remedy for a material defect was to quash the permission; a mere declaration of the breach was not sufficient. The existence of a common law duty to disclose the reasons for a decision, supplementing the statutory rules, was not inconsistent with the abrogation in 2013 of the specific duty imposed by the former rules to give reasons for the grant of permission. Here, it was not disputed that the Council was in breach of a specific requirement under the EIA Regulations to make available a statement of "the main reasons and considerations" on which the decision was based; the only issue was the nature of the remedy. The defect in reasons went to the heart of the justification for the permission, and undermined its validity. The only appropriate remedy was to quash the permission. (6 December 2017) 

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

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Public Health

NLGN: Reaching out – Influencing the wider determinants of health: this research calls for public health to be more fully recognised as contributing to the nation’s growth potential. It finds that, while public health teams have integrated well with people-focused services in local authorities, there are weaker connections with economic development teams and LEPs. The new Local Industrial Strategies now planned need to incorporate a much clearer focus on public health as a driver of workforce productivity. As only 12.8% of senior public health officers felt that they were very engaged with economic development teams, there is clearly a lot of potential for closer working, which would lead to a healthier and more productive workforce. It recommends that central government should invest £65m into Health and Wellbeing Boards, that would be used to support a 5-year ‘upstream prevention’ programme, which could fund pilots within their area that address the wider determinants of health. It could also be used to secure dedicated staff to engage with stakeholders where relationships could be strengthened, such as with LEPs and local authority economic development teams. (28 November 2017)

LGA: Working with schools to improve the health of school-aged children: England’s Chief Medical Officer has highlighted the "concerning" levels of obesity and mental health problems being seen among the young and has said that the health of children needs to become more of a priority. This report showcases the work being down by schools and local authorities across the country to improve the health of children. (8 December 2017)

LGA: Active people, healthy places: this report shares good practice and helps decision-makers consider how their council can deliver on this agenda in the best way for local people and communities. (5 December 2017)

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Public Health Functions) Order 2017 (SI 2017/1180): this Order, which comes into force 30 November 2017, confers certain local authority public health functions on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which will be exercisable concurrently by the Combined Authority and the 10 metropolitan district councils whose areas fall within the Combined Authority’s area. This means that those constituent local authorities will continue to exercise their public health functions alongside the Combined Authority. It also makes consequential provision about how the conferred public health functions are to be exercised by the Combined Authority. The Order applies to the Combined Authority certain of the legal requirements that currently apply to the constituent local authorities when exercising the same public health functions. (29 November 2017)

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

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Standards

IPSO Complaints Committee: Coles v Dartmouth Chronicle (Decision 17469-17): C, a town councillor, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in four articles. Three articles reported on comments which C had allegedly made in relation to a dog festival which had taken place in the town, and the fourth article reported on opposition from councillors to the newspaper’s decision to film a town council meeting. C said that the repeated publication of comments in a series of articles amounted to harassment and that the newspaper had inaccurately reported her comments. The newspaper argued that its articles had accurately represented C's comments and did not breach her privacy. It also contended that, given C's position as a town councillor, her views on the dog festival were a matter of public interest.
The committee ruled that the fact that C was an elected politician was critical to its considerations – as a councillor and also director of the Visitor Centre, her views on matters relating to the town were of interest to the community she had been elected to represent. There had been no breach of the Code. Her views on a public event were of a matter of public interest and the publication of any comments she may have made did not represent an intrusion into her private life. The reporter's conduct did not amount to harassment. (13 November 2017)

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

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Tortious Liability

Lambeth LBC: £100million scheme proposed for survivors of historic child sexual abuse: reports that the Council's Cabinet is to consider approving a proposed Lambeth Redress Scheme that will compensate survivors of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Lambeth Children’s Homes dating back to the 1930s up to the 1990s. The scheme is designed to make sure survivors receive financial compensation more quickly, and keep more of that compensation, than any alternative form of redress. The Government has issued a Capitalisation Direction that gives the Council permission to borrow the money needed fund the scheme. (8 December 2017)

TBS v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [2017] EWHC 3094 (QB) (QBD): the MPC applied to strike out TBS's claim of misfeasance in public office and in negligence. TBS sought compensation for psychiatric injuries suffered by the revelation that his father, L, was an undercover police officer who had pretended to share his mother's political views and had formed a liaison with her which resulted in TBS's birth. He argued that the MPC was vicariously liable under s.88 of the Police Act 1996 both for L and for his supervising officers who had been at fault in deploying L as they did and in allowing his role to continue after he had fathered a child. The MPC contended that the claim should be struck out under CPR r.3.4(2)(a) because it disclosed no legally recognisable claim.
The court dismissed the MPC's application and refused to strike out TBS's claim. Applying the House of Lords' decision in Three Rivers DC v Bank of England [2003] 2 AC 1, which was the leading authority on the tort of misfeasance in public office, the court rejected the MPC's argument that TBS had to show that psychiatric injury was known to be a probable consequence of this operation, not merely a likely consequence. Any difference between the pleaded cause of action in this regard and the ratio of Three Rivers was too subtle to justify striking out the claim in misfeasance. Because this was a strike out application and not an application for summary judgment, the court had to assume that TBS would be able to prove the truth of the pleaded facts and it had to consider the MPC's application on the basis that the pleaded averments were true. Regarding the negligence claim, the MPC argued that it would not be fair, just or reasonable to impose a duty of care in these circumstances as L's supervising officers could not assume the kind of responsibility for TBS's welfare that he was contending. But 'responsibility' meant potential liability to pay compensation for harm caused if the duty of care was broken. If TBS made good his pleaded case, it was far from certain that he would fail in his contention that the supervising officers also owed him a duty of care and should compensate him for harm that he had foreseeably suffered if that duty was broken. (4 December 2017)

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

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Wales

Wales Act 2017 (Commencement No. 4) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1179 (C.111)): the Wales Act 2017 amends the Government of Wales Act 2006 by moving to a reserved powers model of devolution for Wales. This provides a clearer separation of powers between what is devolved and what is reserved, enabling the Assembly to legislate on any subject except those specifically reserved to the UK Parliament. These regulations appoint 1 April 2018 as the day on which the new reserved powers model comes into force. They also bring other sections of the Act into force on 1 April 2018, 1 October 2018 and 1 April 2019. (29 November 2017)

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

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