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Local Authority round-up 26/11/21

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.

Regulatory

Transfer scheme for asylum children made mandatory

Councils will have to take in asylum-seeking children as the national transfer scheme is made mandatory. The change to the previously voluntary scheme has been brought in as a temporary measure to ease pressure on authorities on the south coast, which are facing an increased number of arrivals from across the English Channel. The new mandate will apply to the 217 councils responsible for children’s services, which will have two weeks to make a case to the Home Office if they are not willing to support any more children. Children and Families Minister, Will Quince said “Through the National Transfer Scheme, we know that many councils across the country have already stepped up to fulfil their duty to care for these children. But this responsibility must be more equally shared between councils, which is why we will be mandating temporary transfers where appropriate, so that these children can access the support services they need and become successful members of their local communities.”

For more information please click here.

Government consults on ban of further commonly-littered single-use plastic in England

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a consultation on proposals to ban the supply of further commonly-littered single-use plastic items. The ban would apply to plastic plates, plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks, and expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drink containers. The proposed restrictions on plates, cutlery and balloon sticks would include all plastics (including bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics). Defra is considering excluding plates, bowls and trays used as packaging from the ban, except those used in eat-in settings. The ban would be enforced principally through civil sanctions set out in regulations under Part 3 of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008. Failure to comply may result in a criminal offence and prosecution if civil sanctions are not complied with. The ban would apply from April 2023. Also on 20 November 2021, Defra launched a call for evidence seeking views on targeting other commonly littered single-use plastic items, particularly wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets and single-use cups. The call for evidence will inform Defra’s future policy decisions, including on how to shift away from single-use items to reusable or refillable alternatives. The consultation and call for evidence both apply to England only (although the devolved administrations are considering introducing similar requirements) and close on 12 February 2022.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

European Parliamentary Research Service briefing on UK’s possible re-joining of Lugano Convention

The European Parliamentary Research Service has published a briefing paper on the UK’s possible re-joining of the Lugano Convention. The Lugano Convention governs jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between EU member states including Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. It ceased to apply to the UK at the end of the UK-EU transition period on 31 December 2020 and on 8 April 2020, the UK applied to accede to the Convention in its own right which would require the consent of the contracting parties. The briefing paper explains, from the EU’s perspective, the background to the current position and states that, for the Commission, accession is bound up with close economic integration with the EU. In the Commission’s view, it should not be offered to any third country that is not part of the internal market. It also considers whether the EU will join the Hague Judgments Convention, which has been signed by Costa Rica, Israel, Ukraine and Uruguay, but has not yet entered into force. On 16 July 2021, the European Commission proposed a Council Decision on the EU acceding to the Hague Judgments Convention. The briefing paper states that the Committee of Legal Affairs (which has yet to appoint its rapporteur) will deal with the proposal and that the proposal would require the European Parliament’s consent, as it falls within the scope of the ordinary legislative procedure. The briefing paper concludes that judicial co-operation between the UK and the EU will be governed, for the time being, by the national law of the UK and EU member states and the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention, but if, in future, both the UK and the EU accede to the Hague Judgments Convention, this would facilitate the “free movement of judgments” in civil cases between the UK and the EU. However, it notes that the degree of legal integration provided by the Hague Judgments Convention is lower than that provided by the Lugano Convention.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Government confirms requirements for new buildings to install electric vehicle charge points

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published the government response to its July 2019 consultation and confirmed it would introduce new requirements for installing electric vehicle (EV) charge points in new buildings in England. The government will lay implementing regulations in 2021, which will require new homes with on-site parking to have an EV charge point, residential buildings undergoing major renovation that will have over ten on-site parking spaces after renovation to have at least one charge point for each dwelling with associated parking and cable routes in all spaces without charge points. New non-residential buildings with over ten on-site parking spaces to have at least one charge point and cable routes for one in five spaces and non-residential buildings undergoing a major renovation that will have over ten on-site parking spaces after renovation to have at least one charge point and cable routes for one in five spaces. The government will not introduce the consultation proposal for one charge point to be required in all existing non-residential properties with more than 20 parking spaces.

For more information please click here.

New rules require smoke alarms to be fitted in all rented accommodation

Housing Minister Eddie Hughes MP has announced that new rules under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are being introduced in order to protect residents. Under the new rules, housing providers are required by law to install smoke alarms in all social housing, and carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in social and private rented properties with fixed appliances such as gas boilers or fires. Carbon monoxide alarms must also be fitted whenever new appliances such as gas boilers or fires are installed in any home. The alarms will also need to be repaired or replaced once they are reported as being faulty. Mr Hughes said “I’m proud that the new rules being proposed will ensure even more homes are fitted with life-saving alarms. Whether you own your home, are privately renting or in social housing – everyone deserves to feel safe and this is an incredibly important step in protecting those at risk.”

For more information please click here.

Fast food takeaway allowed close to school

Planning permission was originally refused for the change of use of a commercial unit into a takeaway food restaurant due to concerns about the scheme’s impact on public health, in particular, child obesity. The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (BMDC) had a supplementary planning document (SPD) which stated that hot food takeaways would be resisted in specified areas that fall within 400 metres of the boundary of an existing primary or secondary school or youth centred facility or fall within 400 metres of a recreation ground or park boundary. There was no dispute that the appeal building was situated within 400 metres of a relevant use or facility. The inspector considered that if a hot food takeaway was open to visiting members of the public, including school children, there would be conflict with the SPD. The purpose of the SPD was to improve the quality of the food environment around schools and other recreational spaces as a means of potentially influencing children’s food purchasing habits and future diets. In this case, the application was made on the basis of the takeaway operating as solely a delivery service. In addition, the appellant stated that no signs were going to be put up to advertise that it was a takeaway food premises and it was made clear that there would be no visiting customers to the premises. Concerns were raised that a condition limiting the use to deliveries only would not be enforceable or reasonable. The inspector disagreed and allowed the appeal with a number of conditions including the following delivery only condition “The development hereby permitted shall be used only for the taking of orders by means of the telephone or internet and the preparation of food for delivery from the premises and shall not operate at any time so as to attract visiting customers or the collection of orders by customers. No facilities shall be provided that would allow customers to enter the premises or use the premises as a waiting room.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming Webinars

As you may well know we run a programme of webinars on a wide range of topics, listed below are those webinars upcoming in the next few weeks which may be of interest to you:

The office, reimagined for a post-Covid world

At this free webinar on 1st December at 10am, Simon and Daniel Harrison, CEO from True Potential will be talking to employment partner and health and wellbeing speaker Jamie Gamble. They will share their experiences of how businesses can create a “destination” office environment – a place to attract colleagues back into a shared workplace from their home working environments.

For more information or to secure your place, please click here.

The Stonewater decision – what does it mean for affordable housing delivery?

With the High Court recently ruling that Registered Provider Stonewater is liable to a community infrastructure levy bill of more than £3m, our built environment specialists are delighted to invite you to a panel debate to pick through the pieces. Featuring a panel including representatives from social housing providers Bernicia, Yorkshire Housing and Leeds Federation, our planning and land acquisition specialists will introduce the discussion by briefly taking us through questions and then the wider panel will then debate these topics, and the event’s Chair, Head of Social Housing Julia Thomson, will feed in questions from attendees via the Q&A feature in Zoom, or submitted during registration.

For more information or to secure 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.

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