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Sustainable Communities Bill


Sustainable Communities Bill

1

 

A

Bill

[AS AMENDED IN PUBLIC BILL COMMITTEE]

To

Make provision for the Secretary of State to publish action plans in connection

with promoting the sustainability of local communities and to enable local

authorities and local communities to participate in the formulation and

implementation of those plans; to require the Secretary of State to provide

information on government spending in local authority areas to local

authorities; to make provision for local authorities to make recommendations

regarding local spending reports; to require the Secretary of State to publish

reasons for decisions relating to local spending reports; and for connected

purposes.  

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and

consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1       

Sustainability of local communities

(1)   

The principal aim of this Act is to promote the sustainability of local

communities.

(2)   

In this Act “sustainability of local communities” may be promoted by

encouraging the improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-

5

being of an area.

(3)   

In this section “social well-being” includes participation in civic and political

activity.

(4)   

It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to assist principal councils in

promoting the sustainability of local communities in the ways specified in this

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Act.

 
Bill 11554/2
 
 

Sustainable Communities Bill

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2       

Action plans

(1)   

The Secretary of State shall, as soon as is practicable, consult all principal

councils in accordance with this section—

(a)   

on the matters set out in the Schedule to this Act, which specifies

matters which affect the sustainability of local communities, and

5

(b)   

on any other matters which in the opinion of the Secretary of State affect

the sustainability of local communities.

(2)   

Before consulting principal councils, the Secretary of State must—

(a)   

subject to paragraph (b) appoint a person to be his adviser (“the

adviser”) for the purposes of this Act.

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(b)   

request the Local Government Association to be the adviser but, if that

body declines, appoint such other person or persons who must be

persons who represent the interests of principal councils.

(3)   

The adviser must consider the responses to the consultation pursuant to

subsection (1) and draw up a list of proposals contained in those responses

15

which in the adviser’s opinion—

(a)   

should be given the greatest priority, and

(b)   

have cross-party support.

(4)   

The Secretary of State must, subject to subsection (5), cooperate with the

adviser in drawing up an action plan to promote the sustainability of local

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communities which shall—

(a)   

be based primarily on those proposals that have been identified by the

adviser as requiring the greatest priority and having cross-party

support; and

(b)   

include such other recommendations made by principal councils as the

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Secretary of State thinks fit.

(5)   

The Secretary of State may determine which proposals are not appropriate to

be implemented immediately or at all, on the grounds that—

(a)   

the direct or indirect costs likely to be involved in their implementation,

or

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(b)   

their implementation in whole or in part is likely to conflict, to a

significant extent, with a specific government objective.

(6)   

The Secretary of State shall, no later than 18 months after the commencement

of the consultation pursuant to subsection (1), lay the action plan before each

House of Parliament for approval by each House.

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(7)   

The Secretary of State must—

(a)   

implement the action plan and for that purpose shall keep under

review the progress made from time to time in the implementation of

the action plan; and

(b)   

consider any opinions of the adviser on progress made.

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(8)   

The Secretary of State shall ensure that every regional office of government

cooperates with principal councils and panels established under section 3(2)

for the relevant region in the promotion of the sustainability of local

communities.

(9)   

The Secretary of State shall in each Session of Parliament beginning after the

45

enactment of this Act lay an annual report before each House of Parliament

containing the action plan, if completed, and detailing the progress made to the

 
 

Sustainable Communities Bill

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date of the report in producing the action plan if not completed, and in

implementing the recommendations contained in the action plan in pursuance

of subsection (7).

3       

Representations by principal councils in connection with the action plan

(1)   

Before submitting recommendations under section 2(4) a principal council

5

shall give notice of its intention to make recommendations and invite

suggestions from residents in its area on measures necessary to promote the

sustainability of the local community by—

(a)   

publishing a notice on at least one occasion in a local newspaper or

newspapers circulating throughout the principal council’s area,

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(b)   

publishing a notice on its website,

(c)   

giving notice to every parish or community council within its area and

any other bodies which it believes may have a relevant interest in the

matters listed in the Schedule, and

(d)   

taking reasonable steps to obtain the views through panels set up in

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accordance with subsection (2) of residents, employers and employees

in the council’s area and in particular of—

(i)   

young people in the area;

(ii)   

persons from ethnic minorities;

(iii)   

tenants in social housing;

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(iv)   

persons living on lower incomes;

(v)   

persons with disabilities;

(vi)   

persons living in deprived areas; and

(vii)   

persons over 60 years of age.

   

An area is deprived for the purposes of sub-paragraph (vi) if the official male

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adult unemployment rate exceeds 10 per cent., or if more than 20 per cent. of

households have net incomes below £15,000 per year.

(2)   

For the purposes of this Act, a principal council shall, so far as is practicable,

arrange for one or more panels to be established in its area representing

persons who live in its area or who work or employ workers in its area and any

30

such panel shall, so far as is practicable include—

(a)   

representatives of the categories of persons specified in subsection

(1)(d)(i) to (vii);

(b)   

representatives of such persons or bodies as the council considers

appropriate being persons or bodies of any nature who exercise

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functions or are engaged in activities in relation to the sustainability of

local communities in the council’s area; and

(c)   

an equal number of male and female members.

   

For the purposes of this subsection a member of a panel may represent more

than one of the categories specified in subsection (1)(d).

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(3)   

A principal council shall have regard, when preparing recommendations

under subsection (1) above, to any parish plan published by a parish or

community council.

(4)   

A principal council shall co-operate with any panel set up in its area under

subsection (2) in making recommendations under section 2(4).

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Sustainable Communities Bill

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4       

Local spending reports

(1)   

For the purpose of assisting in promoting the sustainability of local

communities, the Secretary of State must make arrangements for the

production, by the Secretary of State or another person, of local spending

reports.

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(2)   

A local spending report is a report on expenditure by such authorities, in such

area, and over such period, as are determined in accordance with the

arrangements.

(3)   

The authorities may be—

(a)   

a principal council;

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(b)   

a government department;

(c)   

any other person exercising public functions.

(4)   

The area must be—

(a)   

one or more local authority areas;

(b)   

one or more parts of a local authority area; or

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(c)   

any combination of those.

(5)   

The period may be or include a future period.

(6)   

The expenditure to be included in relation to any authority, area or period is to

be determined in accordance with the arrangements.

(7)   

A report may relate to different areas or periods for different authorities.

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(8)   

The Secretary of State may make different arrangements for different reports.

(9)   

Before making arrangements under this section, the Secretary of State must

consult such persons likely to be affected by the arrangements as the Secretary

of State thinks appropriate.

(10)   

For the purposes of subsection (9) any consultation undertaken before the

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commencement of that subsection is as effective as it would have been if

undertaken after that commencement.

5       

Local spending reports: rights of principal councils and representatives of

local persons

(1)   

After considering the information contained in a local spending report issued

30

pursuant to section 4, a principal council may, subject to subsection (2), make

recommendations to the Secretary of State as to—

(a)   

whether that council could decide how any part of the money specified

in that report may be spent; and

(b)   

any consequential delegation of functions to the council.

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(2)   

A principal council may not make recommendations regarding any money

that has been specified in the local spending report as being spent on services

of a wider or national significance.

(3)   

In subsection (2) “services of a wider or national significance” means services

provided wholly or largely for the benefit of persons resident in areas wider

40

than the area of the council.

(4)   

Where a principal council proposes to make recommendations pursuant to

subsection (1), it must—

 
 

Sustainable Communities Bill

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(a)   

refer the matter to any panels under section 3 for consideration; or

(b)   

establish such panels if they do not exist and refer the matter to them

for consideration.

(5)   

A principal council and any panels acting pursuant to this section shall—

(a)   

exercise their functions to promote the sustainability of local

5

communities;

(b)   

have regard to the council’s community strategy prepared pursuant to

section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22);

(c)   

specify that in their opinion any recommendations are consistent with

that community strategy; and

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(d)   

give their reasons for that opinion.

(6)   

Within three months of receiving recommendations made by a principal

council under subsection (1), the Secretary of State shall either adopt or reject

each of the recommendations, and in either case shall give reasons for his

decision.

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(7)   

At least once in each calendar year the Secretary of State shall publish a report

providing details of all decisions taken pursuant to subsection (6) above.

6       

Interpretation

(1)   

In this Act—

“local authority” means a district council, metropolitan district council,

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county borough council or a London borough council;

“planning period” means the period covered by the latest comprehensive

spending review;

“poverty” means “living on a lower income” as defined by section 1 of the

Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 (c. 31);

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“principal council” has the meaning as given in section 270 of the Local

Government Act 1972 (c. 70);

“region” means a region specified in Schedule 1 of the Regional

Development Agencies Act 1998 (c. 45); and

“social exclusion” has the meaning prescribed by the Secretary of State by

30

order made by statutory instrument.

(2)   

An order made under this section shall be laid before Parliament after being

made and is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House

of Parliament.

7       

Expenses

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There shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament—

(a)   

any sums to be paid by the Secretary of State for or in connection with

the carrying out of his functions under this Act; and

(b)   

any increase attributable to this Act in the sums which are payable out

of money so provided under any other Act.

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8       

Short title, commencement and extent

(1)   

This Act may be cited as the Sustainable Communities Act 2007.

(2)   

This Act extends to England and Wales only.

 
 

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(3)   

This Act shall come into force on the day on which it is passed.

 
 

 
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