Skip to content

Local Authority round-up 07/05/21

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.

Commercial

Report states devolution must focus on economy

Think tank Localis has published a report called “A Plan for Local Growth” which sets out that devolution needs to focus on rebuilding the economy rather than local government reorganisation.  It warns that the government’s economic growth strategy focused too much on decentralisation and not enough on devolution. The report calls for ministers to support community control of high-street regeneration, to speed up the devolution of skills and to give councils and their partners a clear role in economic development and achieving net zero.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Councils under new legal duty to provide support to victims of domestic abuse

Councils will, from this summer, have a legal duty to provide support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation, including refuges, to victims of domestic abuse and their children, after the Domestic Abuse Bill received Royal Assent.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said councils had been given a share of £125 million to fund the new duty, including commissioning additional vital support services for victims and improving links between existing local services.  The new duty is expected to come into force during the summer, but councils were asked to begin work from 1 April.  The Act will also give those who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse priority need for accommodation secured by the council, “helping to ensure victims do not remain with their abuser for fear of not having a roof over their head.”  The Act also introduces for the first time an all-purpose legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse, establishes in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and sets out the Commissioner’s functions and powers and bans perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the civil and family courts in England and Wales

For more information please click here.

Members of public must be admitted in person to meetings

The High Court has ruled that where a meeting under the Local Government Act 1972 is to be “open to the public” or “held in public,” members of public must be admitted in person to the place where the meeting is being held. Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Chamberlain said “the phrases “open to the public” and “held in public” are descriptive phrases. Their meaning depends on the meaning of what is being described. Here, it is a “meeting”. If, as we have found, a meeting involves participants gathering to meet face-to-face at a designated physical location and “attending” a meeting involves physically going to that location, a requirement that this meeting is to be “open to the public” or “held in public” means that members of public must be admitted in person to the place where the meeting is being held.”  The judges said nothing about the numbers of the members of the public who should admitted in person, suggesting that this would “no doubt be subject to current public health or Government guidance.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Planning (Local Authority Housing Developments) Bill

The Private Members’ Bill, Planning (Local Authority Housing Developments) Bill, has been introduced to Parliament.  The Bill seeks to establish independent local planning processes to determine housing development planning applications submitted by local authorities.  The Bill would allow for an independent process to be triggered, with the first step being assigning the application to a neighbouring authority (NA). This NA would allocate a case officer to determine the application against the applicant authority’s planning policy and usual consultees. It would then be referred to councillors at the NA for determination. The councillors’ decisions would be referred to the Planning Inspectorate. A planning inspector would need to agree with the decision in order for it to be ratified. If the inspector disagreed, the application would be referred to the Secretary of State.  The text of the Bill is currently unavailable and the date for the second reading of the Bill has not been announced.

For more information please click here.

Consultation launched on new developer tax

Following the introduction of new residential property developer tax which was announced in February, the government has now launched a consultation to seek views on the proposed design of the new tax.  The government is calling for views on proposed design features including how it would apply to a measure of developers’ profit from UK residential development, how it would only apply to in-scope profits over £25 million and how it would apply to conversion of existing buildings as well as new construction.  Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said “Ending the use of unsafe cladding is a priority for the government, as it builds back better from the pandemic. Given the significant costs associated with the removal of unsafe cladding, it is right to seek a fair contribution from the largest developers in the residential property development sector to help fund it.  The government wants to ensure this tax is proportionate and works as intended, which is why it is launching this consultation today.”

For more information 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.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

What we're thinking

  • Local Authority round-up 11/06/21

    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.

  • Local Authority round-up 04/06/21

    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.

  • Local Authority round-up 07/05/21

    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.

  • Local Authority round-up 30/04/21

    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.

  • Local Authority round-up 23/04/21

    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.

  • Local Authority round-up 16/04/21

    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.