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Local Authority round-up 13/08/2021

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

Oldham councils launches new business grants

Oldham Council has launched a new business grant to support travel agents (international not domestic), event management companies, night clubs and ticketed live entertainment venues who have been adversely affected and are under stress because of COVID-19. Those businesses will be able to apply for grants of £1,500, £7,500 or £10,000 to support operational costs and overheads but they cannot be used to cover staff wages. Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Employment and Enterprise said “We’re delighted to launch this latest grant scheme which will support some of the hardest-hit businesses in Oldham – and those which have been subject to restrictions for the longest.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Wales moves to Alert Level 0

On 7 August 2021, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No 15) Regulation 2021 (SI 2021/925) came into force. They amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1609) to move all of Wales into Alert Level 0. For businesses and venues, the main change is that all businesses can open, with no gathering limits. Previously, some businesses (such as nightclubs and discos) had to remain closed at Alert Level 1. Some protections will remain in place, including the requirement to wear face coverings in most indoor public places, subject to certain exceptions. Businesses operating regulated premises (including workplaces or public venues) must also continue to take prescribed steps to prevent the exposure and spread of COVID-19, including implementing reasonable measures based on risk assessments, which could include limiting numbers and requiring physical distancing. The Welsh Government has published guidance to help businesses, employers and organisation understand what they can and cannot do at Alert Level 0.

For more information please click here.

Scotland to move beyond level 0

On 5 August 2021, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/277) were made. They came into force on 9 August, revoking the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/344), which imposed Scotland’s level-based system. For businesses and venues, the most significant change is that all businesses can open, with no curfews, gathering limits (except for specific events) or physical distancing requirements. Previously, some businesses had to remain closed at Level 0 and there were restrictions in relation to opening times for hospitality venues and casinos. Some protective measures remain in place, such as a requirement to wear face coverings indoors in most venues, including restaurants (if not seated at a table), casinos, retail premises, theatres and communal workplace areas, unless certain exceptions apply. Certain hospitality and entertainment businesses must collect and retain visitor information for at least 21 days following a visit. This does not apply to visitors purchasing take away food or drink, or voting in an election. Businesses must also have regard to guidance published by the Scottish government about measures to minimise exposure to or spread of COVID-19 relating to their premises.

For more information please click here.

Changes to self-isolation rules from Monday 16 August

From Monday 16 August, people who have received both does of their COVID-19 vaccine (at least 14 days prior) or are under the age of 18 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate when they are identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, they should take a free PCR test as soon as possible and provided the result is negative they will not be required to self-isolate. They will also not be required to isolate whilst they wait for the results of that test. However, if they do test positive, then the usual self-isolate rules will apply. UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive (UKHSA), Dr Jenny Harries said “Thanks to the huge success of the vaccine programme, we are able to ease self-isolation requirements for double jabbed people and under 18s. It is important that close contacts continue to come forward for a PCR test, in order to detect the virus and variants of concern.”

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Lorry controls may be made permanent

The Department for Transport has said that lorry controls which were brought in following the UK’s departure from the EU could be made permanent. The controls, known as Operation Brock, introduced concrete barriers on the M20 and around the Port of Dover to hold lorries on one side of the motorway to allow other traffic to move in both directions without delays. A Department for Transport spokesman said “While Operation Brock was created to deal with disruption caused by EU exit and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, removing the sunset clauses will mean the Kent Resilience Forum is better prepared to respond to any type of traffic disruption in the area, including strikes and severe weather.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Landlord successfully appeals council’s imposition of a financial penalty

The Upper Tribunal (UT) has allowed an appeal brought by a landlord (appellant) against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT). The appellant had (unsuccessfully) appealed the financial penalty of £2,500 imposed by the London Borough of Redbridge (respondent), for letting a flat without a licence contrary to section 95 of the Housing Act 2004, to the FTT. The appellant appealed to the UT on the basis that the FTT should have set aside the financial penalty since the respondent had failed to follow its own internal policy, which required informal action to resolve non-compliance with licensing requirements before imposing a financial penalty. The appellant, who lived abroad, had taken immediate action to apply for a licence as soon as they were informed about the respondent’s licensing obligation and had returned a completed selective licensing application to their agent on the same day that it was sent to them. The UT did not accept that the respondent’s unsuccessful attempts to contact the appellant were relevant to the assessment of whether it was appropriate to deal with the offence by way of informal action rather than a financial penalty. The position would have been different if the appellant was aware in June 2018 that the respondent required them to obtain a licence but the FTT found that they were unaware of either the selective licensing regime or of the attempts to contact them. The UT considered that the FTT should have considered the respondent’s policy on informal resolution and whether it applied in this case. The UT considered this was an appropriate case for the matter to be dealt with informally, in accordance with the respondent’s policy, and it therefore allowed the appeal and set aside the financial penalty.

For more information please click here.

£150 million to support roll-out of First Homes scheme

The government is inviting house builders to apply for share of a £150 million package to support the roll-out of the First Homes Scheme. The scheme aims to help local people onto the housing ladder by offering homes at a discount of at least 30% compared to the market price. The same percentage will then be passed on with the sale of the property to future first-time buyers. The government is aiming to deliver 1,500 homes under the scheme by March 2023. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said “homebuilders of all shapes and sizes will now be able to benefit from this scheme while helping first-time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder.”

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.

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