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Local Authority round-up 16/12/22

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.

Regulatory

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing faces Regulator action

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RHB) has been found to have breached the regulator’s consumer and governance standards following an investigation which was carried out following the death of Awaab Ishak. The regulator found significant failings including that RBH waited nearly two years after Awaab Ishak’s death to check for damp and mould in other homes on the estate and when they did there were hundred of tenants living with damp and mould. The regulator now expects RBH to take urgent action to rectify the failings it found as part of its investigation and if it does not then it will take enforcement action. Fiona MacGregor, RSH’s Chief Executive, said “Our judgement sends a clear message to social landlords that they must deal with damp and mould as the serious hazards that they are, treat tenants with respect, and take their concerns seriously.”

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Government consults ahead of trade negotiations with South Korea

The Department for International Trade has launched a consultation ahead of negotiations for a new free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The new agreement will build on the existing UK-South Korea FTA, which largely replicates the European Union-South Korea FTA. The Call for input consultation asks respondents:

  • Which areas of the current FTA should stay the same or be improved and which areas not covered under the current FTA (for example, digital trade, small and medium-sized enterprises and climate change) should the UK government prioritise in negotiations.
  • Whether they are facing challenges or constraints when attempting to trade with or invest in South Korea, and how significant these are.
  • How they would respond if remaining restrictions were removed on goods or services trade with South Korea.
  • Whether their trade with South Korea involves innovative goods and services (such as those developed using advanced manufacturing, AI, bioinformatics and genomics, electronics, energy and environment technologies, robotics and smart machines), and how trade talks can support increased innovation.

The Call for input states that opportunities include a potential new digital chapter, to take account of modern trade practices, and an investment chapter to enhance market access, reduce barriers and provide protections for investors. It also states that the negotiations will involve a review of Rules of Origin, noting that the current FTA, which allows UK and Korean exporters to count inputs from the EU when determining whether their goods are “UK-originating” (EU cumulation), expires at the end of 2023. The consultation closes on 2 February 2023.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Multi-million-pound expansion in council enforcement teams

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that it will be providing £8 million in funding in order for councils to expand their enforcement teams to ensure building owners deal with cladding repairs. The funding will be split amongst 59 councils in England with those with the highest number of unsafe buildings being treated as a priority. Minister for Building Safety Lee Rowley said “We are bolstering council enforcement operations, making them better equipped to make the most of the powers they have to hold freeholders to account and prevent them from dragging their heels. I look forward to working with councils to ensure we keep up the pressure on freeholders so they step up to the plate.

For more information please click here.

Court of Appeal rejects challenge to grant of planning permission

A case brought against Herefordshire Council over planning permission for farm buildings boiled down to an argument that the ecology officer’s advice had been wrong and no public law grounds existed to overturn the council’s grant of planning consent, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The appeal arose from Herefordshire granting permission to farmer John Morgan for the erection of a cattle shed and an extension to an existing agricultural building near to the River Wye, which is both a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Mr Sahota feared this expansion of livestock farming would increase the spreading of manure on the surrounding fields, which would run off into the Wye and other watercourses. In evidence to the planning committee, Mr Bisset said the additional cattle shed has a floor area of 465.5 square metres and so “falls under any trigger sizes (500 square metres) for air pollution emissions in regards to any Sites of Special Scientific Interest.” He added “No likely significant effects on any relevant SSSI have been identified. There are no further ecology comments on this … development within an existing developed farm complex.” Mr Sahota argued the High Court had erred in law in deciding that Herefordshire had complied with regulation 63 of the Habitats Regulations. Singh LJ said “In my view, the judge did not fall into error as a matter of principle. He correctly directed himself as to the relevant principles and the authorities on this topic. He reminded himself of the need for caution before admitting Mr Bisset’s evidence. Furthermore, I do not think that the conclusion to which he came was one which was not reasonably open to him.”

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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