Coronavirus, local authority meetings and development management

John Pugh-Smith provides a brief overview of the current known position, watch points and continuing uncertainties as at 26 March 2020 now that the Coronavirus Act 2020 is in force. Read more
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  NEWS

Mar 26, 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 receives Royal Assent

The Coronavirus Act 2020, which contains a wide range of emergency measures as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been given Royal Assent.
Mar 26, 2020

Ombudsman suspends complaints enquiries of councils and care providers

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has suspended all casework activity that demands information from, or action by, local authorities and care providers, in light of the current coronavirus outbreak.
Mar 23, 2020

Virtual local authority meetings

Amendments to the Coronavirus Bill will rule out uncertainty over whether local authority meetings can be held online, writes Charles Holland.
Mar 23, 2020

LGA issues briefing on Coronavirus Bill, calls for temporary relaxation of FOI and GDPR requirements

The Local Government Association has called for additional powers to be given to local government as it published a briefing on the measures contained in the Coronavirus Bill.
Mar 20, 2020

Government publishes Coronavirus Bill

The government has published the Coronavirus Bill with provisions covering areas such as the emergency registration of social workers, the suspension of most local authority social care obligations, the closure of educational institutions and the postponement of elections.
Mar 18, 2020

LLG and ADSO write to Secretary of State on impact of Covid-19 on governance

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have written to the Local Government Secretary on the impact of Covid-19 on governance issues.
Mar 17, 2020

Government consults on how to stop councils using Public Works Loan Board loans for commercial property investment

The government has launched a consultation this month on the development of a targeted intervention designed to stop ‘debt for yield’ activity where local authorities use low-cost loans from the Public Loans Works Board (PWLB) to buy investment property primarily for rental income.
Mar 17, 2020

Law Commissions call for single, consistent legislative framework for elections

Electoral legislation that originates from the Victorian era is “out-dated, confusing and no longer fit for purpose”, the Law Commissions of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have said in a report calling for the adoption of a single, consistent legislative framework.
Mar 17, 2020

Government to consider allowing virtual committee meetings on temporary basis: Jenrick

The government is to consider bringing forward legislation to legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period during the coronavirus outbreak, the Local Government Secretary has said.
Mar 13, 2020

Councils and Electoral Commission welcome government decision to put May 2020 elections back by one year

The government has decided to postpone the 7 May 2020 local and mayoral elections in England for one year.

  FEATURES AND ANALYSIS

March 20, 2020

Consultation in a time of social distancing and self-isolation

Local authorities should consider the legal issues around consultation during the Covid-19 crisis, writes Jonathan Moffett QC.
March 20, 2020

Covid-19 and the economic emergency, unforeseen

How will local authorities be able to respond? Helen Randall and Henna Malik set out some of the options.
March 18, 2020

Public decision-taking during coronavirus restrictions

Richard Barlow looks at how public bodies might continue to maintain functioning democratic decision-taking at a time when large gatherings are discouraged and social isolation is recommended for public health.
March 13, 2020

Local authority duties and decision-making

The Court of Appeal has given important guidance on local authority duties and decision-making. James Goudie QC and Ronnie Dennis set out its key findings.
March 06, 2020

Access all areas: public sector websites

Eve Piffaretti looks at how to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps are accessible by residents.
January 31, 2020

Complying with duties under the Equality Act 2010

A recent Scottish case has emphasised that public authority duties under the Equality Act 2010 are not ‘a question of ticking boxes’, write Laura Thornton and Matthew Smith.
January 24, 2020

The Monitoring Officer - changing approaches for a new decade?

Agility and speed of movement are qualities that both Monitoring Officers and their organisation will need to cultivate, writes Miranda Carruthers-Watt.
January 03, 2020

The CSPL Review of Ethical Governance and Bullying

Paul Feild looks at what the Committee for Standards in Public Life has recommended in relation to bullying and sets out the actions councils can take to address the issue.

  MORE NEWS

Mar 13, 2020

LLG and ADSO issue statement on local authority decision-making and democratic process in light of coronavirus

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have issued a joint statement on local authority decision-making and the democratic process in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mar 13, 2020

Electoral Commission recommends delaying 7 May polls until autumn

The Electoral Commission has written to the government warning of “real risks to the successful delivery of the scheduled 7 May 2020 elections”, in light of the current and emerging situation around Covid-19 in the UK.
Mar 11, 2020

Budget 2020: reaction from the sector

Local Government Lawyer rounds up the reaction to Rishi Sunak’s first Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mar 11, 2020

Budget 2020 – key policy decisions

Local Government Lawyer sets out some of the key policy decisions in the 2020 Budget affecting local government, housing, health and education.
Mar 11, 2020

Lack of experienced auditors poses threat to sustainability of local audit market: report

A lack of experienced local authority auditors is the main threat to the future sustainability of the local audit market, a report commissioned by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) has warned.
Mar 05, 2020

Welsh council wins Court of Appeal battle over scope of duty to secure improvement

A requirement on councils to consult on service improvements is not so wide as to mean consultations must be held on every decision, the Court Of Appeal has ruled.
Mar 03, 2020

Report into Welsh council highlights monitoring officer also being its sole qualified childcare lawyer as example of risk of ‘all hands to the pumps’ approach

A rapid assessment carried out by the Improvement and Assurance Board set up at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has highlighted a situation where the authority’s monitoring officer is also its sole qualified childcare lawyer and has additional responsibilities as an example of why it has significant concerns about the ability of the council to deal with ongoing practical issues.
Feb 24, 2020

Report to mark 25th anniversary of standards watchdog warns of importance of managing relationships between public and private sectors

The need to manage new relationships between public and private sectors has the potential to put further pressure on the Civil Service and local authorities, a report commissioned by the Committee on Standards in Public Life to mark its 25th anniversary has said.
Feb 20, 2020

Ombudsman threatens council with legal action over lack of co-operation

Folkestone and Hythe Council was threatened with a court summons by the Local Government Ombudsman over its handling of a complaint about its treatment of a homeless family.
Feb 20, 2020

Lewisham merges legal, HR and governance director roles

The London Borough of Lewisham is set to scrap its director of law post and replace it with one additionally covering governance and human resources.
Feb 14, 2020

Jenrick to remain at helm of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government but McVey departs as Housing Minister

Robert Jenrick has stayed as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government following yesterday's Cabinet reshuffle, but Esther McVey has lost her position as Housing Minister.
Feb 13, 2020

Watchdog calls on ministers to check local authority borrowing framework is fit for purpose amid commercial property investment concerns

Local authority investment in commercial property has called the soundness of the prudential borrowing framework into question and raised concerns about how far the Government can rely on it to support value-for-money decisions.
Feb 10, 2020

Standards watchdog calls for guidance on governance and coherent regulatory framework for those in public sector using AI

The government needs to identify and embed authoritative ethical principles and issue accessible guidance on AI governance to those using it in the public sector, the Committee on Standards in Public Life has said.
Feb 06, 2020

Former Leader of Welsh council suspended after helping personal assistant at interview

Former Flintshire County Council leader Aaron Shotton has been suspended from office by a tribunal.
Feb 05, 2020

Root and branch reform of electoral system “needed more urgently than ever”, say electoral administrators

The fragility of the electoral system is more apparent than ever, the expectations of citizens are not being met and the resilience of the electoral community to deliver is being tested, the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) has warned in a report on the December 2019 general election.
Feb 05, 2020

One in seven councils predict rise in judicial challenges over service provision: report

One in ten councils (12%) say they are in danger of being unable to fulfil statutory duties this year and one in seven (14%) say they anticipate an increase in judicial challenges to the level of service provision, the LGiU MJ State of Local Government Finance Survey 2020 has found.
Jan 27, 2020

City council passes motion supporting pilot of citizens assemblies

Bristol City Council will introduce two ‘citizens’ assemblies’ pilot schemes within the year in an effort to increase the involvement of citizens in the council’s decision-making process.
Jan 23, 2020

Spending watchdog publishes final draft of new Code of Audit Practice ahead of expected implementation in April

The National Audit Office has this week published the final draft of the new Code of Audit Practice, which sets out what local auditors of relevant local public bodies including councils, police, fire and NHS bodies are required to do to fulfil their statutory responsibilities under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
Jan 23, 2020

Largest town council in England to be established ahead of move to unitaries in county

Northampton is to set up England’s largest town council ahead of local government reorganisation in the county.
Jan 17, 2020

Ombudsman issues further report after Medway council fails to implement Ombudsman's recommendations

The Local Government Ombudsman has issued a rare further report stating their recommendations were not implemented by Medway Council and the correct process to disagree with the recommendations was not followed.
Jan 16, 2020

Welsh councillor suspended for four months for conduct breaches

Cardiff Council has handed a councillor a four months suspension after an investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Dec 30, 2019

Welsh minister hails plan to reform legislative framework for local government governance and public engagement

The Welsh Government has highlighted draft legislation aimed at enhancing the ability of councillors to attend council meetings remotely more easily and job share cabinet posts.
Dec 20, 2019

Queen's Speech lays out proposals for “long term reform of social care”, further devolution

Government plans to seek cross-party consensus “urgently” in order to bring forward the necessary proposals and legislation for long-term social care reform in England were among proposals unveiled in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, but concerns have been expressed that "we've heard it all before".
Dec 09, 2019

Welsh Government consults on amending primary legislation to enable changes to executive governance arrangements of principal councils

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation which proposes amendments to provisions in the Local Government Act 2000 and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 which enable changes to the executive governance arrangements of principal councils.
Dec 03, 2019

Local government scrutiny is ‘poor Cinderella’ compared to executive function: CfPS

Fewer than a third of 432 scrutiny officers and councillors who responded to a survey by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) agree that there is “parity of esteem between the executive and scrutiny”.

  MORE FEATURES

January 03, 2020

Determining exclusivity: Lone v London Borough of Hounslow

In the first appellate court decision on the issue, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the Valuation Tribunal ("VT") has exclusive jurisdiction to determine disputes relating to the calculation of Council Tax and that this jurisdiction excludes a freestanding common law claim in restitution. Shomik Datta analyses the case.
December 20, 2019

The Conservative majority and local government

Peter Ware asks what the recent Conservative majority in parliament will mean for the future of local government.
November 29, 2019

Climate emergency #1 - have you thought about governance?

With many councils declaring a climate emergency, Victoria Barman examines the governance issues they face.
November 15, 2019

Hard Law and Soft Law - in the context of local government

Dr David Sykes analyses the role soft law plays the decision-making of local authorities and other local democratic institutions.
November 08, 2019

Behind the curtain

As the general election kicks off, James Goudie QC highlights a 2017 High Court ruling on the status of 'purdah' and the business that can and cannot be conducted while it applies
October 25, 2019

Government automated-decision making

Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters, who run the www.ai-lawhub.com and tweet at @AILawHub, summarise the main points from their recent report on artificial intelligence and automated decision-making in government, warning that some local authorities could be acting in a discriminatory way.
October 14, 2019

The Queen’s Speech 2019: highlights for local authorities

Alastair Lewis and Emyr Thomas provide a summary of some of the proposals in this week's Queen's Speech that would affect local authorities.
October 04, 2019

Governance of Fire and Rescue Authorities

A recent case has considered the process where Police and Crime Commissioners seek to take over responsibility for the governance of their local fire and rescue authority. Mark Heath and Allison Cook analyse the ruling.
September 27, 2019

General elections – the role of the Acting Returning Officer

Ben Standing sets out some of the steps Acting Returning Officers should be taking now, with another general election seemingly around the corner.
September 20, 2019

Electoral Petitions: the Law Commission's proposals for reform

Timothy Straker QC and Amrit Kaur Dhanoa make a case in favour of the Law Commission’s proposals for reform of electoral petitions.
September 13, 2019

Digital duties

Monitoring Officers must ensure good governance over data and social media, writes David Kitson.
August 09, 2019

Local authority companies and governance: LLG's Codes of Practice

Rob Hann looks at the Lawyers in Local Government’s Codes of Practice for Local Authority Companies.
June 21, 2019

The consistency principle and quashed decisions

Does the consistency principle apply to a previously quashed decision? Andrew Parkinson considers a recent High Court ruling.
June 14, 2019

Setting local authority companies up for success

Rob Hann provides some practical tips for local authorities setting up local authority companies.
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May 03, 2019

Community governance reviews and abolition of local councils

Two parish councils recently succeeded in a legal challenge to their proposed abolition. Chris Brown explains how one of the parishes did it and considers the lessons for public authorities arising from the case.
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April 12, 2019

Funding reductions and legal challenges

The High Court has handed down an important judgment on local authority funding reductions. Jonathan Auburn and Peter Lockley look at its findings in a case concerning Hackney Council's approach to Special Educational Needs funding and Education and Healthcare Plans.
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March 08, 2019

Administrative law principles – consistently consistent

A recent Supreme Court case involving the Competition and Markets Authority raises some important considerations for local government lawyers around council decision-making, writes Dr David Sykes.
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March 01, 2019

Predictive analysis – an introduction and considerations

Paul Feild examines the legal and other issues raised by the use by local authorities of predictive analysis, 'Big Data' and machine learning.
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February 22, 2019

Improving ethical standards

Robin Green, Estelle Dehon and Dr Alex Williams analyse five key recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recent report on local government ethical standards in England.
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February 15, 2019

Three ways through the labyrinth of functions and responsibilities

Louis Sebastian considers how local authorities can best review their approach to functions and responsibilities under the Local Government Act 2000.