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Local Authority round-up – 21 August 2020

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.


EU rejects immigration pact

When the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, the government will lose the right to transfer refugees and migrants to the EU country from which they arrived.  Currently the UK is able to transfer refugees back to their home country under the European asylum system known as the Dublin regulation.  The UK government had sought to replicate this once we have left the EU and presented the EU with a plan which would allow the UK to return “all third-country nationals and stateless persons” who enter its territory without the right paperwork to the EU country they had travelled through to reach British shores.  However it has been rejected by EU negotiators and member states who said “The proposal, from the EU perspective, isn’t very operational and doesn’t bring a lot of added value.”

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£77 million funding for York

A £77 million investment has been granted by the government to the City of York to ensure that the new city centre quarter development goes ahead.  The funding is being provided by Homes England and Network Rail and will enable vital infrastructure to connect the new site which will include a bridge over the East Coast mainline railway to overcome access problems.  The new development will include 3,705 homes, up to 1.2 million square feet of commercial development including 80% Grade A offices and an enhancement of the setting and access to the National Railway Museum.  Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said “The funding is a vital step to unlocking a £1.16bn boost to our economy and delivering a new generation of better paid jobs and hundreds of affordable homes, at a time when York needs it most. The scheme will also set new standards for sustainable living and clean growth, utilising brownfield land in the heart of the city.”

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Planning and Housing

Suburban Taskforce starts work

The Suburban Taskforce, which was announced in March 2020, has been established to undertake a detailed review of the state of Britain’s suburbs and make recommendations to the Government on policy initiatives to enhance them. It is formed from a cross-party group of politicians seeking to identify and secure the clear, long-term and properly resourced policies needed to support thriving, sustainable and inclusive suburban areas.  The taskforce has now launched a public ‘Call for Evidence’ as it “seeks to clarify the circumstances facing our suburbs and to understand the implications this has for the way in which we plan for their future. The intention is that this will inform recommendations as to policy initiatives which will contribute to the creation of suburbs which are thriving, sustainable and inclusive.”  Chair of the Advisory Board, Rockwell’s Jonathan Manns said “I wish to encourage those from all backgrounds, whether individuals or organisations, whatever their experiences or expertise, to actively support this important work and respond to this ‘Call for Evidence’. The more data and perspectives received, the more effective the Taskforce can be in considering the issues and opportunities facing these crucial parts of our towns and cities.”

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Council given power to close businesses

Staffordshire County Council has been given powers which will allow them to close businesses which are found to be breaching social distancing guidelines in a bid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.  Under the new Health Protection Regulations the council may also limit opening hours and restrict the number of people allowed in a premises at any time, with closure of businesses being a last resort.  Before a business can be closed the council must first send a non-statutory warning letter to a business causing concern before it considers issuing a direction.  Dr Johnny McMahon, the council’s cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing said “These are very strong powers but these are unprecedented times. It may mean a retail outlet is letting too many patrons through its door – such that they can’t exercise social distancing safely – so we define a number over and above which they cannot go.”

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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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