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Clause 49 - Leader and cabinet executives (England)
131. This clause inserts new sections 44A to 44H, into the Local Government Act 2000 with respect to the new style of leader and cabinet executive which replaces the previous such model in relation to England only.
132. The provision made for the election of the leader in a leader and cabinet executive (England) varies depending on whether the local authority holds whole council elections or elections by halves or by thirds. In the case of the former, the leader is elected at the annual meeting following a whole council election or at a subsequent meeting. In the case of the latter, the leader is elected at the relevant annual meeting. Thereafter, the leader is elected at the annual meeting held shortly after the day on which he would normally be required to retire as councillor.
133. New section 44C provides that the leader can be removed by the local authority if its executive arrangements so provide.
134. Generally, however, the leader remains in office until shortly after the date on which they would normally have retired as councillor and will continue to be a councillor during that period. The term of office of the leader will be four years where the local authority holds whole council elections. Where the local authority holds elections by halves or thirds, the leader's term of office will vary, depending on the length of the remainder of the leader's term of office as councillor.
135. New section 44H provides powers for the Secretary of State to make regulations with regard to the term of office of executive leaders and the filling of casual vacancies in the office of the executive leader.
Clause 50 - Time limit for holding further referendum
136. This clause amends section 45(1) of the Local Government Act 2000 to extend the period within which more than one referendum can be held from 5 years to 10 years. This provision applies to referendums held both before and after this section comes into force.
Clause 51 - Interpretation
137. This clause amends Section 48 of the Local Government Act 2000 regarding definitions for elected leader, ordinary day of elections and proposed executive.
Clause 52 - Further amendments and transitional provision
138. This clause provides that schedules 3 and 4 have effect.
Clause 53 - Supplementary provision
139. This clause allows the Secretary of State, by regulations, to make provision regarding the dates and years of elections for the return of an elected mayor or elected executive members to be varied, and for the terms of office of elected mayors and their executives, and for elected executive members to be varied.
140. Part 4 and Schedule 5 devolve power from central government to local government and communities, enabling principal councils (London boroughs, district councils or county councils in unitary county areas) to put in place appropriate arrangements for the governance of their areas at community level. Local people are also able to initiate a review of community governance by petitioning their principal council.
141. Parish councils and parish meetings will be able to change the style by which they are known. In this part all references to parish meetings are those where there is no parish council for that parish. Eligible parish councils will also be given a power to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area.
CHAPTER 1: PARISHES
Clause 54 - Parishes: alternative styles
142. This clause amends the Local Government Act 1972 inserting three new sections and making other amendments to existing sections.
143. Section 11A provides that all parishes that are grouped together under section 11(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 must be termed by the same style, i.e. groups of communities, parishes, villages or neighbourhoods. A grouping containing a mixture of styles will not be permitted.
144. Section 12A allows a parish council or a parish meeting to change the name of its area from parish to one of a menu of styles: community, neighbourhood or village. The new style will be used in the titles of councils, meetings, trustees, chairman, vice-chairman and councillors e.g. parish council or parish meeting becomes a community council or community meeting. Parish councils and parish meetings will be able to resolve to adopt an alternative style.
145. Section 17A details the styles that are alternatives to parishes: community, neighbourhood or village and maintains the existing options for a parish to have the status of a town and change its parish council to a "town" council.
Clause 55 - Appointed councillors
146. This clause amends the Local Government Act 1972 amending sections 15 and 16 to ensure chairman and vice-chairman of parish councils are elected councillors rather than appointed. The clause also inserts a new section 16A into that Act.
147. Section 16A allows for the appointment to a parish council of people who hold a specific position in the local community, such as representatives of key community groups, as unelected members. The new section allows the Secretary of State to issue regulations about appointment and provides a power to issue guidance to parish councils on appointing councillors. Parish councils are under a duty to have regard to any such guidance when exercising any function that the guidance relates to.
CHAPTER 2 - POWER TO PROMOTE WELL-BEING
Clause 56 - Extension of power to certain parish councils
148. This clause adds an eligible parish council to the list of bodies in Part 1 of the Local Government Act 2000 which have the power to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area. The Secretary of State has a power to prescribe by order the conditions which must be met by a parish council in order for it to be an eligible parish council for the purposes of this provision.
Clause 57 - Community strategies
149. Under the Local Government Act 2000, councils which have the power of well-being are also required to produce community strategies, to which they must have regard when using that power. This section exempts parish councils from the need to produce their own community strategies. Instead it requires them to have regard to the strategies of the relevant principal authorities when exercising the power of well-being.
CHAPTER 3 - REORGANISATION
Community governance reviews
Clause 58 - Community governance reviews
150. This clause specifies when a principal council must or may undertake a community governance review, over what geographical area a review can be undertaken and the terms by which the review must comply.
151. Subsection (1) requires a principal council to undertake a community governance review if it receives a valid petition from local government electors (provided for under clause 59).
152. Subsection (2) empowers a principal council to undertake a community governance review at any other time.
153. Subsection (3) provides that a community governance review is a review of the whole or part of the principal council's area for the purpose of making recommendations as set out in clauses 62 to 67.
154. Subsection (4) requires the district council to comply with Chapter 3 of the Bill and the terms of reference of the review.
155. Subsection (5) requires the principal council to notify the county council (in two-tier areas) that a community governance review is being conducted and the terms of reference of the review.
Clause 59 - Community governance petitions
156. This clause provides for local government electors to petition their principal council to conduct a community governance review.
157. To be valid, a community governance petition must meet the conditions in clause 59 (3) to (6) as far as they are applicable. These include conditions about the number of local government electors who must sign the petition, the area that petitioners wish to see considered as part of a review and the specifying of recommendations which the petitioners wish a community governance review to consider making.
158. Subsection (7) provides for a principal council to consider a community governance petition invalid if an earlier valid petition has been made for the whole or a significant part of the area proposed within the previous two years.
Clause 60 - Terms of reference of review
159. This clause allows for principal councils to determine the terms of reference under which a community governance review must be undertaken and requires the principal council to determine the area under review.
Reorganisation of community governance
Clause 61 - Reorganisation of community governance
160. This clause provides for principal councils to implement by order the outcome of a community governance review, with the exception of related alterations to district ward or county division boundaries which are implemented by the Electoral Commission. The clause also stipulates that the agreement of the Electoral Commission must be obtained before an order can be made, changing protected electoral arrangements.
161. Electoral arrangements are considered "protected" where:
Recommendations of review
Clause 62 - Constitution of new parish
162. This clause requires a community governance review to recommend either to create a new parish or not, and sets out the different ways that such an area can be created.
163. A community governance review which recommends the constitution of a new parish must also make recommendations as to the geographical name of that area, whether the parish should be known by an alternative style and recommendations as to whether or not there should be a parish council.
Clause 63 - Existing parishes under review
164. This clause provides for a community governance review to recommend the abolition or alteration of an existing parish as a result of a community governance review. The area of abolished parishes does not have to be redistributed to other parishes.
165. Subsections (3) and (4) specify that a principal council conducting a community governance review must include a recommendation as to whether or not the geographical name of the existing parish should be changed and whether or not parishes should have a parish council.
166. Subsection (5) prevents principal councils from making a recommendation to change the style of an existing parish.
Clauses 64 and 65 - New or retained councils: consequential recommendations
167. These clauses require a community governance review which recommends the establishment or continuation of a parish council to also make recommendations as to the electoral arrangements for that council.
Clause 66 - Grouping or de-grouping parishes
168. This clause provides for a community governance review to recommend the grouping or de-grouping of parishes following a community governance review. The clause also requires a review to consider the electoral arrangements of a grouped parish council or of a parish council established after a parish is de-grouped.
Clause 67 - County, district or London borough: consequential recommendations
169. The clause requires a principal council to consider related alterations to the electoral arrangements of county and/or district councils when conducting a community governance review. It provides for the principal council to make recommendations to the Electoral Commission for changes to the boundaries of any division of a county, or ward of a district or London borough in connection with a recommendation to create, alter or abolish a parish as part of a community governance review.
Clause 68 - Duties when undertaking a review
170. This clause specifies duties which a principal council must comply with when conducting a community governance review.
171. Subsections (7) and (8) require principal councils to complete the review on receipt of a valid community governance petition or, in any other case, within 12 months of the start of the community governance review.
Clause 69 - Recommendations to create parish councils
172. This clause directs principal councils to create parish councils in parishes which have 1000 electors or more. In parishes with 151 to 999 electors the principal council may recommend the creation of either a parish council or a parish meeting. In parishes with 150 or fewer electors principal councils are unable to create a parish council and therefore parish meetings must be created. The aim of this is clause is to extend the more direct participatory form of governance provided by parish meetings to a larger numbers of electors.
Clause 70 - Electoral recommendations: general considerations
173. This clause is concerned with the considerations that the principal council must have regard to when making recommendations about electoral arrangements for a parish council. These considerations include whether a parish should be divided into wards.
Publicising Outcome of Review
Clause 71 - Publicising outcome
174. This clause details the steps that a principal council must take to publicise the outcome of any review of community governance it has conducted and the bodies it must notify following any reorganisation order it makes.
Clause 72 - Supplementary regulations
175. This clause allows the Secretary of State, by regulation, to make any supplementary incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions that may be needed to give effect to the new arrangements.
Clause 73 - Orders and regulations under this Chapter
176. This clause allows principal councils, by order, to make any supplementary incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions that may be needed to give effect to the new arrangements. Including provision with respect to the transfer of functions, property, rights and liabilities.
177. Subsection (6) provides for orders to include provision for the exclusion or modification of section 16 (3) or 90 of the Local Government Act 1972 and section 36 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Clause 74 - Agreements about incidental matters
178. This clause provides for public bodies affected by reorganisation following a community governance review to make agreements about incidental matters and what those agreements may provide for.
Clause 75 - Guidance
179. This clause provides for the Secretary of State and the Electoral Commission to issue guidance relating to community governance reviews and requires principal councils to have regard to this guidance.
Clause 77 - Interpretation
180. This clause defines terms used within this chapter and includes a list of the electoral arrangements of parish councils that principal councils can make recommendations on as part of a community governance review.
181. This Part provides for a local area agreement ("LAA"), which will be an agreement between a local authority and certain partner authorities, approved by the Secretary of State. It will be prepared by the local authority which will consult partner authorities and others (this will include persons from the voluntary and community sector and local businesses). The local authority and partner authorities will co-operate with each other in determining local improvement targets for the area to be included in the LAA. It also amends section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 to provide that the local authorities which prepare LAAs must consult partner authorities when preparing their community strategy.
182. This Part also amends the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000 in respect of local authority overview and scrutiny committees. It seeks to strengthen the role of the overview and scrutiny committees to improve accountability. It enables committees to review specific actions of those public bodies specified in clause 95 operating in their area and to require them to provide information or appear before them. It also requires the local authority or the authority's executive to respond to its reports or recommendations
Clause 78 - Application of Chapter: responsible local authorities
183. This clause sets out which local authorities will be responsible local authorities for the purposes of Chapter 1, that is those which will be required to prepare LAAs. They are upper tier authorities or those with upper tier responsibilities as well as London boroughs, the City of the London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.
Clause 79 - Application of Chapter: partner authorities
184. This clause sets out a list of public bodies and persons which will be "partner authorities." In some cases the statutory reference does not make it immediately clear what the nature of the body or person is.
185. Subsection (3)(a) refers to the English Sports Council which is known as Sports England. Subsection (3)(d) refers to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission which is known as English Heritage. Subsection (3)(g)(i) refers to the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under section 2 of the Employment and Training Act 1973. These functions are exercised by Jobcentre Plus. Similarly the functions described in subsection 3(g)(ii) and (iii) are exercised by the Highways Agency.
186. Subsection (6) provides that the Secretary of State may amend the list of bodies and persons, by order, from time to time by adding any person with functions of a public nature, deleting any person, or by adding or deleting references to the Secretary of State's functions. Before making such an order, the Secretary of State must consult such representatives of local government as he considers appropriate.
Clause 80 - "Local improvement targets": interpretation
187. This clause introduces the term "local improvement target" to describe any target that has the aim of improving the economic, social or environmental well being of a responsible authority's geographical area. Each target must relate to that authority and/or one or more partner authorities and/or one or more other persons.
188. It is envisaged that the targets will include approximately 35 targets relating to the national indicator set for local government (as determined through Public Service Agreements). The LAA will also include local priority targets. These are targets which do not necessarily relate to the national indicator set but which the responsible authority and/or partner authorities and/or others believe would be beneficial for their area.
189. Subsection (2) provides that a target relates to the responsible local authority where any function of the local authority or any thing done by it could contribute to achieving the target. Subsection (3) provides that a target will relate to another body or person where that person when exercising his functions or anything done by that person could contribute to the attainment of the target and that person has consented to the target being specified in the LAA. For example, in relation to a target to reduce childhood obesity the primary responsibility would lie with the Primary Care Trust but the local authority would have a role to play in relation to its function as an education authority and also through social services and youth services. The target could only be included in the LAA by the responsible authority with the agreement of the Primary Care Trust.
Clause 81 - Duty to prepare and submit draft of a local area agreement
190. Subsection (1) provides that where the Secretary of State so directs, a responsible local authority must prepare a draft LAA. The direction can also specify the date by which the authority must submit the draft LAA to the Secretary of State (see subsection (5)). The draft LAA will specify local improvement targets, the persons to whom to the target relates (ie those bodies which will contribute to the attainment of the target) and the period for which the agreement is to have effect.
191. Subsection (2) provides that, in preparing the draft LAA, the responsible local authority must seek the views of each partner authority and of other appropriate persons. The other persons are likely to be from the voluntary and community sectors, private businesses, and other public sector agencies that are not included on the list of named bodies. It also provides that the local authority must co-operate with each partner authority in agreeing the targets for inclusion in the draft LAA, relating to that partner authority. Lastly, in preparing the draft LAA, the local authority must have regard to its community strategy prepared under section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 and to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This means that the LAA will be developed on the basis of a detailed analysis of the local authority area and the priorities for public services contained in the community strategy.
192. Subsection (3) requires each partner authority to co-operate with the local authority when it is agreeing targets for inclusion in the draft LAA and to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
193. Subsection (4) requires the Secretary of State to consult representatives of local government, representatives of partner authorities and others he considers appropriate before issuing guidance.
Clause 82 - Approval of local area agreement by the Secretary of State
194. Subsection (1) provides where a local authority has submitted a draft local area agreement to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State may, by notice in writing to the local authority, either approve the draft local area agreement or require that it be modified.
195. Subsection (2) provides that where the Secretary of State approves a draft LAA, this will become the LAA for the area of the responsible local authority. It will have the effect for the length of time specified in the LAA.
196. Subsection (3) provides that where the Secretary of State requires a draft local area agreement to be modified, this must be treated by the responsible local authority in the same way as the preparation of a new draft local area agreement, that is, that the same duties of consultation and co-operation apply.
Clause 83 - Duty to have regard to local improvement targets
197. This clause provides that once the Secretary of State has approved a local area agreement and it therefore has effect, the responsible local authority and each partner authority must, when exercising their functions, have regard to the local improvement targets within the LAA that relate to it.
Clause 84 - Designated targets
198. Subsection (1) provides that once the Secretary of State has approved a LAA he may, by notice in writing to the responsible local authority, designate any local improvement target. This must be done within 1 month of the date of approval of the draft LAA. It is envisaged that the designated targets will be those which have been identified as priorities by the Secretary of State and which relate to the national indicator set for local government, as determined through Public Service Agreements. The effect of a designation is that the target may not be amended or removed except with the approval of the Secretary of State, following the submission of a revision proposal by the responsible authority.
199. Subsection (2) provides that where the Secretary of State has approved a revision proposal to the LAA he may designate any local improvement target that has been added by the revision proposal. This must be done within one month of the date the revision proposal was approved. (Targets may also be added to LAAs by agreement between the responsible authority and each person to whom the target in question is to relate, under clause 85(6). But such targets, once added, may not be designated.)
|© Parliamentary copyright 2006||Prepared: 13 December 2006|