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Local Authority round-up 14/10/22

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

First ever investment for local authorities to research health inequalities

£50 million of funding is being provided to 13 local authorities across the UK in order to tackle inequalities and improve the health of the public. The funding will enable local authorities to carry out research into the local challenges affecting people’s health in order to enable them to better understand it so that they can consider ways to deal with disparities. Minister of State for Health, Robert Jenrick, said “This funding will drive progress to address health challenges locally, particularly in the places and communities most affected by ill health such as high levels of obesity, drug use and poor mental health. Everyone should be able to live long, healthy lives regardless of their background and where they live, and this new research will help us deliver on our ambition.”

For more information, please click here.


Regulatory

LGSCO finds council at fault for failing to consider circumstances of individual’s transport needs

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has upheld that a complaint brought by X against Northumberland County Council (council) in respect of the council’s decision to decline her application for transport provision for her son (Y) to attend a new college. Y’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) named the college but did not provide any transport. X appealed the council’s decision to refuse her application on the basis there was a nearer college offering Y the same course. X’s appeal was made on the basis that the time taken to get to Y’s college depended upon the route mapping service used. The council:

  • In its stage 1 response to X, explained in an email that its policy was only to provide transport to students attending their closest learning provider for their chosen course. The council’s email did not address X’s comments on how distances were calculated or how it worked out which college was closest.
  • In August 2020, acknowledged receipt of X’s stage 2 appeal and confirmed that the appeal panel was meeting the following week. In her stage two appeal, X stated that Y could not use public transport and the council had agreed with Y’s chosen college but did not explain that it might affect Y’s chances of receiving transport provision.
  • Confirmed in October 2020 (following various emails from X chasing the outcome of the appeal) that Y was not eligible for funded transport because his course was at a lower level than his previous studies. The panel had considered the post-16 transport policy as well as the information provided by X but the panel’s decision-making process was not explained and there was no reference to the distance criteria the council had relied on when declining X’s initial application or stage 1 review.

The council accepted the LGSCO’s finding of fault causing injustice and various recommendations. In addition to an apology and payment of £300 compensation to X, the council agreed to revise its post-16 transport policy to make it clear that applicants could contact the council about course levels and to check (or compare) measures of school distance. The council also agreed to review its September 2021 decisions refusing transport to children with EHCPs to ensure those were not based on exclusions relating to school distance and course levels without any explanation.

For more information, please click here.

Local authorities permitted to bring proceedings for consumer offences committed outside their local areas

In two unrelated appeals, the Court of Appeal had to determine whether paragraph 46(1) of Schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) conferred power on a local authority to prosecute consumer offences irrespective of a connection with the area. Alternatively, was the power to prosecute proscribed by section 221 of the Local Government Act 1972 (LGA 1972), which provided a general power in local authorities to prosecute and defend in criminal and civil proceedings but only when the local authority considered it expedient to do so for the promotion or protection of the interests of the inhabitants of their area. In the two appeals before it, the trial judges had reached conflicting decisions on this issue during separate preparatory hearings.

The first case concerned a prosecution for conspiracy to defraud involving individuals operating a model agency where aspiring models would be subjected to high-pressure sales techniques to persuade them to pay for digital photographs for their portfolio.

The second case involved an allegation of illegal money lending absent a licence to do so from the Office of Fair Trading or authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority.

In each case, the defendants’ challenged the power of the local authority to prosecute on the basis of each case failing to satisfy the local expediency test in section 221 of the LGA 1972. The wording of paragraph 46(1) of Schedule 5 to the CRA 2015 was clear and enabled a local weights and measures authority to bring proceedings for consumer offences outside its area, without reference to section 221 of the LGA 1972. The power in paragraph 46(1) of the CRA 2015 was but an example of the general power provided under section 221 of the LGA 1972. Parliament was free to legislate to provide power to local authorities to prosecute unfettered by the local expediency test and it had clearly done so in respect of the CRA 2015 offences.

For more information, please click here.


International Trade

Electronic Trade Documents Bill

The Electronic Trade Documents Bill was introduced to Parliament this week which will, if passed, end the need for paper-based trading documents and allow for digital documentation legally recognised by modernising old legislation such as the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992.  The new rules will require trade documents in electronic form to meet certain criteria designed to replicate the key features of paper trade documents. This will allow British businesses to trade easier, faster and cheaper around the world with processing times for electronic documents being cut from 7 to 10 days for paper applications to 20 seconds online.  It will also help to cut administration costs and is expected to provide a boost to UK businesses of £1.14 billion over ten years.  Documents which will now be available electronically will include a bill of exchange, a promissory note, a bill of lading, a ship’s delivery order, a warehouse receipt, a mate’s receipt, a marine insurance policy and a cargo insurance certificate. Chris Southworth, Secretary General, ICC United Kingdom said “The publication of the Bill is a game changer with huge economic gains to be made for trade if companies digitalise systems and remove paper. Trade plays a huge role in the global economy so digitalisation is vital to establishing a more sustainable system.”

For more information, please click here.


Planning and Housing

Consultation on Statute Law (Repeals) (Wales) Bill

On 7 October 2022, the Welsh Government published a consultation Statute Law (Repeals) (Wales) Bill. The consultation relates only to Wales and closes on 6 January 2023. One of the aims of the proposed bill is to remove certain redundant provisions in existing legislation that relate or connect to planning legislation. Views are sought on whether the proposed repeals are useful and whether other provisions should be considered. In relation to planning, the Welsh Government is proposing:

  • Removing Welsh Ministers’ power to designate enterprise zones (EZs) under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (LGPLA 1980). The LGPLA 1980 introduced powers to establish EZs to see how the relaxation of planning control could help with the regeneration of run-down urban areas. 15 zones were designated in Wales and operated from the 1980s to 1990s. The powers have not been used since.
  • Removing transitional arrangements relating to local plans and structure plans in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 and the Planning Act 2008. The planning system in Wales is development plan-led, which means development plans are the starting point when making planning decisions. Over the years there have been different types of development plan and each time the system changed amending legislation has provided for transitional arrangements. These provisions are now spent.
  • Amending the Planning and Energy Act 2008 (PEA 2008) so that it no longer applies in Wales. The PEA 2008 was aimed at encouraging micro-generation and more energy efficient buildings. The Law Commission concluded that the subject of the PEA 2008 should be more appropriately dealt with in guidance and is now included in Planning Policy Wales.
  • Amending sections 53 to 56 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoWA 2000) so they only apply to England. Sections 53 to 56 of CRoWA 2000 have never been commenced and are therefore not in force. They prescribe a cut-off date (1 January 2026) for the recording on definitive maps of footpaths and bridleways created before 1949. The proposed amendment will mean there will be no cut-off date in Wales.

For more information, please click here.

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Government takes action to keep residents safe

The Department for Levelling Up has taken the first step in legal action, protecting residents and ensuring proper building safety.  Action has been taken against Grey GR Limited Partnership, who are the freeholder of Vista Tower, a fifteen-storey tower block in Stevenage.  Action has been taken against them for failure to remedy fire safety defects within the building.  They have now been given 21 days to commit to remediating the tower’s fire safety defects or an application will be made to the courts to force them to do so. Levelling Up Secretary of State, Simon Clarke said “This legal action should act as a warning to the rest of industry’s outliers – big and small. Step up, follow your peers and make safe the buildings you own or legal action will be taken against you.”

For more information, please click here.


Upcoming Webinars

The Autumn employment law update

Ward Hadaway’s employment law update is back this Autumn and taking place online via Zoom on Wednesday 19th October at 10am. Our panel of experts will ensure your team is kept in the loop, covering recent and upcoming updates in legislation, case law and pending Tribunal decisions, focusing throughout on the practical points of what this means for employers and HR teams. You will be able to ask your own questions in advance via the registration form, or you can use the Q&A feature in Zoom on the day.

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

Right to work checks – keeping you up to date on recent developments

Many changes to right to work (RTW) checks came into effect on 6 April 2022 and have now had time to bed in. Ward Hadaway are therefore pleased to invite you to a free webinar at which we will remind you of those changes, and highlight developments since our right to work webinar in March this year. Our immigration experts will cover:

  • A quick overview of the importance of RTW checks
  • “Manual” RTW checks and “Online” RTW checks
  • Guidance on which check (manual or online) ought to be completed in order to obtain and retain the statutory excuse, and when those checks should be conducted
  • An overview of employers’ continued RTW obligations should they choose to use Identity Service Providers (IDSPs), including an update on which IDSP providers are now certified by the Government
  • The end to the COVID-19 adjusted RTW check on 1st October 2022

This short webinar will take place on Zoom on 20th October at 10am.

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.

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.

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