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Clause 85 - Revision and addition of targets
200. Subsection (1) provides that a designated target can only be amended or removed through a revision proposal which is then sent to the Secretary of State for his approval in accordance with clauses 86 and 87.
201. Subsections (2) and (4) provide that any other target may be amended or removed from the LAA by agreement with partner authorities to whom the target relates and having consulted every other person to whom the target relates (ie any charity or voluntary sector bodies or local private sector bodies which agreed to the target at the outset). This means that local priority targets can be changed without the involvement of the Secretary of State.
202. However, subsection (3) provides that the responsible authority and such partner authorities to whom the targets relate may not amend or remove them during the month after the LAA has been approved and may not amend a target added by a revision proposal for the month after the revision proposal has been approved. This is to ensure that targets are not amended or removed by agreement between the authority and partner authorities during the period in which the targets are capable of being designated by the Secretary of State.
203. Subsection (5) makes it clear that local improvement targets can only be added to a LAA either by agreement between the persons to whom the target is to relate, in accordance with subsection (6) or in accordance with a revision proposal under clauses 86 and 87.
Clause 86 - Designated targets: revision proposals
204. It is envisaged that an LAA will last for a number of years. Within this time the responsible local authority may want to alter the designated targets in the LAA. This will be done through a revision proposal. The revision proposal may seek to add a target or delete or alter designated targets.
205. Subsection (1) provides that a responsible authority may, whilst the LAA has effect, prepare and submit to the Secretary of State a "revision proposal". This is a document that proposes changes to designated targets within an approved local area agreement. The Secretary of State may also direct a local authority to prepare a "revision proposal". Where such a direction has been made, the responsible authority must prepare a revision proposal.
206. Subsection (2) sets out what may be included in a "revision proposal". The revision proposal may include changes to, or removal of, designated targets from the local area agreement. It may propose additional targets.
207. Subsection (3) provides that where a revision proposal proposes changes to a target or an additional target, it must also specify the persons to whom the target is to relate.
208. Subsection (4) establishes the steps the responsible local authority must take in preparing the revision proposal. The responsible local authority must:
209. Subsection (5) provides that each partner authority must co-operate with the responsible local authority, and have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State, in determining changes to designated targets, the removal of designated targets or additional local improvement targets, that are to be included in a "revision proposal".
210. Subsection (6) requires the Secretary of State to consult representatives of local government, (this includes representatives of partner authorities) and others he considers appropriate before issuing guidance on the revision proposal process.
211. Subsection (7) provides that where the Secretary of State directs a responsible local authority to prepare and submit a "revision proposal", a date by which this revision proposal must be submitted can be set.
Clause 87 - Approval of revision proposal
212. Subsection (1) sets out the options for the Secretary of State in considering a revision proposal that has been submitted. If the revision proposal was prepared in response to a direction by the Secretary of State (under clause 86 (1)(b)), he may approve the revision proposal or require the responsible authority to modify it or reject it. Alternatively, if the responsible local authority has chosen to prepare and submit a revision proposal, the Secretary of State may either approve or reject the proposal. In this case he may not require the revision proposal to be modified.
213. Subsections (2) and (3) provide that where the Secretary of State approves the revision proposal, the approved local area agreement is amended to take on the changes set out in the revision proposal. A designated target which is revised will then be treated as if it had been designated in its revised form, by the Secretary of State, in place of the target which was the originally designated.
214. Subsection (4) provides that where the Secretary of State has required a responsible local authority to modify a revision proposal, that it shall be treated as a direction to that local authority to prepare another revision proposal. This means that the authority will be under the same duties again to consult and co-operate and to have regard to the community strategy and to guidance, and that partner authorities will be under the duty to co-operate and to also have regard to guidance, when modifying the revision proposal.
Clause 88 - Duty to publish information about local area agreement
215. Subsection (1) provides that the responsible local authority must publish a memorandum relating to the local area agreement where:
216. Subsection (2) sets out the information that will be included in the memorandum. It will set out in such form as the Secretary of State may direct:
Clause 89 - Preparation of community strategy
217. This clause amends section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 by requiring responsible local authorities to consult and seek the participation of partner authorities in the development and subsequent modification of the community strategy. The partner authorities will be the same as those involved in the preparation of the LAA. Local authorities will remain under a duty to also consult and seek the participation of such persons as they see fit when preparing the community strategy. This is intended to include the voluntary and community sector and local businesses.
Clause 90 - Interpretation of Chapter
218. This clause provides a glossary to the terms used in these clauses.
Clause 91 - Transitional provision
219. This clause sets out the arrangements for change from voluntary local area agreements to those required by these clauses.
220. Subsection (1) notes that this clause applies only where the Secretary of State first directs a responsible local authority under clause 81(1) to prepare and submit a draft of a local area agreement.
221. Subsection (2) sets out that the first direction of the Secretary of State to an authority to prepare a LAA may provide that the LAA submitted may have been prepared before the direction to do so was given. That is, that where such a direction applies, an authority may submit a LAA which was in existence previously as a voluntary LAA. Such a direction will also provide that the local area agreement submitted need not have been prepared following consultation with partner authorities, and with co-operation between the responsible local authority and partner authorities nor with regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State and in the case of the authority, without having regard to the community strategy. This means that the Secretary of State will have the flexibility to allow certain local authorities to submit voluntary LAAs for approval, which were in existence before the provisions came into force.
222. He can also direct that other local authorities prepare a fresh LAA in accordance with all the statutory provisions under clause 81. This may be necessary in cases in which local authorities are at the point of negotiating their next LAA, i.e. where their present voluntary LAA is about to expire
CHAPTER 2: OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEES
Clause 92 - Reference of matter by councillor to overview and scrutiny committee
223. Several pieces of legislation introduced in this Bill together provide for the process called a "Community Call for Action" in the Local Government White Paper. These are clause 92, accompanied by clauses 166 and 167. Clause 92 inserts section 21A into the Local Government Act 2000. It requires each local authority operating executive arrangements to ensure its overview and scrutiny arrangements enable any member of the authority to refer a local government matter to the relevant overview and scrutiny committee. (Section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 empowers overview and scrutiny committees to review or scrutinise decisions made, and to make reports and recommendations about matters whether or not they are the responsibility of the Executive; and to make reports or recommendations on matters which affect the authority's area.) Corresponding provision can be made for authorities operating alternative arrangements under secondary legislation available under section 32(3) of the 2000 Act.
224. Inserted section 21A(2) provides that such arrangements must enable a councillor to put a local government matter on the agenda, and to have it discussed at a meeting, of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.
225. Inserted section 21A(5)-(8) applies to references by councillors who are not members of the committee. Section 21A(6) entitles a committee, when deciding how to proceed, to consider representations from the member who referred the matter, and to take into account the extent to which he has exercised the powers given to him under clause 166 of the Bill to resolve it. Section 21A(7) makes clear that, although it is open to a committee not to pursue a matter, it must let the member know the reason for the decision. Section 21A(8) requires the committee to copy its report or recommendations on the matter to the member who referred the matter. Section 21A (9) defines the matters which can be referred to overview and scrutiny in this way. Its scope is intended to cover any matter that relates to the work of the local authority other than a crime and disorder matter (such matters being dealt with by the Police & Justice Act 2006), or a matter in a category which the Secretary of State has excluded by order.
Clause 93 - Power of overview and scrutiny committee to question members of authority
226. By virtue of clause 166 of the Bill, an authority can make arrangements for individual members to exercise functions of the authority in relation to the electoral division or ward for which the member is elected. Clause 93, inserts a provision in section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 allowing Overview and Scrutiny Committees to require such members to appear before the Committee to answer questions in relation to any functions that they exercise.
Clause 94 - Powers to require information from partner authorities
227. This clause inserts section 22A after section 22 of the Local Government Act 2000.
228. Section 22A: Subsection (1) provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations which determine what information relevant partner authorities must provide to a relevant committee or may not disclose to such a committee.
229. "Relevant partner authority" is defined in new section 21C(7), which is inserted by clause 95, and means a person who is a partner authority in relation to a local authority for the purposes of Part 5 (Co-operation of English authorities with local partners, etc) Chapter 1 (local area agreements), except for a police authority or a chief officer of police.
230. "Relevant committee" is defined in section 21C(7) of the Local Government Act 2000, which is inserted by clause 95, and means any overview and scrutiny committee of an authority which is required to prepare local area agreements under Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Bill.
231. The type of information about which regulations may be made under subsection (1) of section 22A does not include information that can be the subject of regulations made under section 20(5)(c) or (d) of the Police and Justice Act 2006 or section 244(2)(d) or (e) of the National Health Service Act 2006.
232. Subsection (6A) of section 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, which is inserted by subsection (3) of clause 94, makes it clear that information about which provision can be made in regulations made under that section can only relate to the discharge of crime and disorder functions and local crime and disorder matters.
233. Subsection (2A) of section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006, which is inserted by subsection (5) of clause 94, makes it clear that information about which provision can be made in regulations made under that section can only relate to the health service in the local authority's area.
234. Subsection (2) of section 22A inserts new wording in section 32(3) of the Local Government Act 2000. The effect of this change is to enable regulations to be made in relation to authorities operating alternative arrangements which replicate the provision contained in the new section.
Clause 95 - Overview and scrutiny committees: reports and recommendations
235. Subsection (1) inserts new sections 21B to 21D after section 21A, which is inserted by clause 92 of the Bill, of the Local Government Act 2000.
236. Section 21B: This section applies where an overview and scrutiny committee of an authority in England makes a report or recommendations to the authority or the executive. It does not apply where the report or recommendation is made to the authority or the executive by a crime and disorder committee under subsection (1)(b) or (6) of section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006.
237. Subsection (2) empowers the overview and scrutiny committee to publish its report or recommendations.
238. Where the overview ands scrutiny committee does this, it must give the local authority or executive notice in writing specifying the steps which the local authority or executive must take within two months of receiving the report or recommendations or, if later, the notice. These steps include responding to the report or recommendations and, if these documents have been published by the overview and scrutiny committee, publishing the response.
239. The local authority or executive must comply with the notice.
240. The provisions of section 21D, which is also inserted by clause 95, and is concerned with confidential and exempt information applies in relation to the publishing of a report or recommendations or a response to any of these documents.
241. Section 21C: This section applies where a relevant committee make a report or recommendations to an authority or an executive and the report or recommendations relate to a local improvement target which relates to a relevant partner authority and is specified in a local area agreement of the authority. It does not apply where the report or recommendations are made by a crime and disorder committee under subsections (1)(b) or (6) of section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006.
242. "Local improvement target" and "local area agreement" are defined in subsection (7) of section 21C and have the same meanings as in Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Bill.
243. The overview and scrutiny committee may give the relevant partner authority notice in writing requiring them to have regard to the report or recommendations in exercising their functions. A relevant partner authority cannot be required to have regard to the document if it was made to that authority under regulations made under section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006.
244. The relevant partner authority has a duty to comply with the requirement specified in the notice.
245. Section 21D: This section applies to the publication under section 21B of any document comprising a report or recommendations of any overview and scrutiny committee or a response of an authority to any such report or recommendations. It also applies to the provision of a copy of such a document to a member of an authority under new section 21A(8) or 21B or to a relevant partner authority under section 21C.
246. Subsection (2) places a requirement on an overview and scrutiny committee or a local authority to exclude confidential information when publishing a document or providing a copy of it to a relevant partner authority. "Confidential information" is defined in subsection (6) of section 21D and has the meaning given by section 100A(3) of the Local Government Act 1972.
247. It also gives a power to an overview and scrutiny committee to exclude any relevant exempt information. "Relevant exempt information" is defined in subsection (6) of section 21D and means, in relation to a report or recommendations of an overview and scrutiny committee, exempt information specified in a resolution of the overview and scrutiny committee under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, and, in relation, to a response of the local authority, exempt information of a description specified in such a resolution of the authority. In both cases, the resolution must apply to a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee or the executive at which the report or response was, or the recommendations were, considered The definition of "relevant exempt information" includes, in relation to an overview and scrutiny committee with functions under section 21(2)(f) of the Local Government Act 2000, information which is exempt information under section 246 of the National Health Service Act 2006.
248. It should be noted that section 21D does not apply to the executive of an authority in relation to responses. This is because the meaning of "relevant exempt information" has been imported from Part 5A of the Local Government Act 1972 which applies to an authority but not to an executive of that authority.
249. Subsection (3) enables the overview and scrutiny committee or an authority to exclude if they wish any confidential information or relevant exempt information from a copy of a document provided to a member of the local authority.
250. When information is excluded from any document, subsection (4) enables the overview and scrutiny committee or the authority, in publishing, or providing a copy of it, to replace any part of the document which discloses confidential information or exempt information with a summary that does not disclose that information. Where in consequence of the exclusion of confidential information or exempt information, the document would be misleading or not reasonably comprehensible, subsection (4) requires the authority to provide a summary of the part concerned.
251. An overview and scrutiny committee which, in publishing, or providing a copy of, a document, excludes information or replaces part of the document with a summary, will be taken to have complied with the requirement in subsection (3)(c) or (d) of section 21B. This is by virtue of subsection (5) or section 21D.
252. Subsection (2) of clause 95 amends section 22 of the Local Government Act 2000 by inserting new subsection (12A) to give the Secretary of State a power to make regulations in relation to local authority executives in England which replicate the provision contained in section 21D.
253. Subsection (3) of clause 95 amends subsection (3) of section 32 of the Local Government Act 2000 by inserting references to sections 21B, 21C and 21D to enable the Secretary of State to make regulations in relation to local authorities operating alternative arrangements in England which replicate the provision contained in those sections.
Clause 96 - Transitional provision
254. The new procedure for altering executive arrangements which are being introduced through Clause 33E of the Bill will also apply to overview and scrutiny.
255. A local authority byelaw is a law which has been made by a local authority under a power conferred by statute. Currently local authority byelaws must be confirmed by the Secretary of State. Offences against local authority byelaws attract a penalty fine, which is enforced through the Magistrates' Courts.
256. These clauses give effect to the Government's proposals to simplify procedures for making and enforcing local authority byelaws. Proposals for changes to current procedures were set out in the Government's discussion paper Local Authority Byelaws: Procedures for making, confirming and enforcing byelaws, issued in April 2006. Decisions on action to be taken were then announced in the Local Government White Paper.
257. The Government initially intends to use the powers in these clauses to introduce new procedures for local authorities to make byelaws and enforce them through fixed penalty notices only in relation to local authority byelaws which are confirmed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. These byelaws regulate matters such as low-level nuisance in local spaces (for example parks and beaches, the use of market places and the cleanliness of barbers' and hairdressers' premises). The powers could be used in relation to byelaws in other areas in the future.
258. These clauses enable the Secretary of State to make regulations establishing a new procedure for local authorities to follow in making byelaws. The intention is that this power will be used so that once local authorities have consulted on, prepared and advertised draft byelaws locally, they can be enacted without confirmation by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will have the power to make regulations dealing in particular with consultation on, and the advertisement of, byelaws locally and the power to issue guidance in relation to the new procedures.
259. The clauses also provide for the enforcement of byelaws through fixed penalty notices, as an alternative to enforcement through Magistrates Courts. This will bring the enforcement of byelaws on to the same footing as the enforcement of other low-level nuisance activities, and will facilitate a more coordinated approach to the enforcement of such matters.
Clause 97 - Alternative procedure for byelaws
260. This clause inserts a new section 236A into the Local Government Act 1972. This will give the Secretary of State, in relation to England, the power to make regulations prescribing classes of byelaws which can be made using the procedure described in the regulations rather than the procedure in section 236 of that Act. The intention is that regulations will prescribe a procedure which does not require the byelaw to be confirmed by the Secretary of State. It will be possible for the classes of byelaw to which the alternative procedures will apply to be described in different ways - by reference to one or more of the enabling power for the byelaws, their subject matter, and the authority empowered to make or confirm the byelaws. This approach has been taken to ensure that regulations can describe clearly which byelaws will be subject to the alternative procedures, and, therefore, ensure certainty as to which local authority byelaws will continue to be subject to the procedure in section 236 of the Local Government Act 1972.
261. In prescribing the alternative procedures to be followed, the clause empowers the Secretary of State to include in regulations provision on the consultation procedures which local authorities should follow before a byelaw is made, and on local publicity after a new byelaw has been made.
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