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Local Authority round-up 02/06/23

Our Local Authority round up provides brief summaries of topical information on a weekly basis, to keep you aware of the changes and updates relevant to you.

International Trade

UK’s first trade deals come into effect

The UK’s first post-Brexit trade deals with Australia and New Zealand came into force this week after the countries each completed their domestic ratification processes. Under the deals’ beneficial terms, tariffs on all UK goods exports to Australia and New Zealand will be removed. Special shipments of handpicked UK goods including signed Beano comics, personalised Cambridge Satchels, Brighton Gin and Burleigh pottery were among the first items to be sent under the new arrangements. The agreements could also mean that UK consumers benefit from reduced items from those countries on items such as wine and also lower costs on machinery parts for UK manufacturers. Under the deal, red tape has also been slashed for digital trade and work visas. Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said “Today is a historic moment as our first trade deals to be negotiated post-Brexit come into effect. Businesses up and down the country will now be able to reap the rewards of our status as an independent trading nation and seize new opportunities, driving economic growth, innovation and higher wages.”

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

Active Travel England to consult on large planning applications

Local planning authorities will now have to consult with Active Travel England (ATE) on all large planning applications. With effect from 1 June, ATE is officially a statutory consultee on all planning applications for developments equal to or exceeding 150 housing units, 7,500 m2 of floorspace or an area of five hectares. The move is aimed at ensuring active travel is included at the planning stage to help improve public health, save money and reduce emissions. Active travel commissioner Chris Boardman said “Active travel is essential to improving public health, reducing emissions and tackling the cost of living crisis. That’s why we’re working to ensure millions more people have the opportunity to walk, wheel or cycle from their doorstep to where they need to be. Designing activity back into our neighbourhoods and creating places where children have transport independence is achievable – it just needs smart planning. As a statutory consultee ATE will work with planning authorities and developers to help them ensure new estates give people what they need to get fresh air and exercise, save money on petrol and help fight climate change.”

For more information please click here.

Report calls for social landlords to seek resident involvement

In a new report, A partnership of equals: resident involvement for better relationships, culture and services, published by L&Q in advance of the Social Housing Regulation bill which is due to receive royal assent, they have said that social landlords should build a ‘partnership of equals’ with their tenants. L&Q says they should look to the voluntary sector and ‘exercises in participatory democracy’ to build better relationships with residents and improve services and culture. The association, which house around 250,000 people in more than 105,000 homes mainly in London, the South East and North West of England, says its ambition is to “embed resident involvement at every level of the organisation and put residents at the heart of decisions that affect their lives and neighbourhoods.” The charity says it wants to make resident involvement more accessible and meaningful by positioning residents as “equal and collaborative partners.”

For more information please click here.

Ombudsman issues guide on temporary accommodation for homeless people

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has issued a guide for officers who work in local authorities’ housing and homelessness functions on dealing with people who are owed the main housing duty and are occupying temporary accommodation which the council accepts is unsuitable. The guide follows recent court decisions on the subject and an increase in the number of complaints the Ombudsman has received. It also sets out:

  • relevant law and guidance about temporary accommodation
  • the role of the Ombudsman
  • what the Ombudsman expects to see
  • the organisation’s approach to complaints – including the difference between maladministration and service failure
  • how the Ombudsman remedies injustice when it finds fault
  • key steps local housing authorities need to take to ensure their service is compliant with both the law and guidance.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said “Together with a special report we published in March about the Homelessness Reduction Act, this guide provides key essential learning for local authorities about their role and duties towards homeless people in temporary accommodation. This is an important area of our work given the challenges families suffering homelessness face and the increasing use of this type of accommodation by authorities with the difficult job of finding suitable housing for rent. I would urge housing professionals at all levels to read these free reports and guides to ensure the services they provide to people who are either homeless, or at risk of homelessness, meet their duties under the law and guidance.”

For more information please click here.

Upcoming events

TechNExt Fringe Event: Why Wellbeing Matters

Ward Hadaway partner, Jamie Gamble, will be joined by Sheena Widdowfield and Lauren O’Connor from Opencast’s people team on Friday 23 June at Hoults Yard to discuss the benefits of focusing on employee wellbeing, the trends in expectations from people and employment law cases and highlighting the work Opencast has been doing in this space.

For more information please click here.

Contract law update with Professor Ewan McKendrick

Professor Ewan McKendrick KC will share with us the latest insights and case law on the following topics, a must for all in-house legal teams:

  • Recent cases on the interpretation of contracts
  • The drafting of exclusion clauses, termination clauses and force majeure clauses
  • The meaning of an express term of the contract requiring parties to act in good faith
  • Incorporation of terms into a contract
  • Other topics include winning the battle of the forms, implied terms, the scope of the doctrine of duress and the role of estoppel and waiver in commercial transactions.

This event will take place in person at the Sage, Gateshead on 20 June 2023 at 9am.

For more information please click here.

Webinar series: Data Protection

Register your interest for our on-going webinar series on ‘Data Protection’ for in-house lawyers, DPOs and senior management in private and public sector organisations. The series will run throughout 2023 providing attendees with up to date information on key Data Protection topics. The short one hour sessions will be delivered by our experts with allocated time for you to ask any questions you may have. The next in our series ‘Data protection and the implications of AI tools’ will take place on 4 July 2023.

For more information or to book your place, please click here.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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