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Issue - meetings

Localism Bill Update

Meeting: 01/02/2011 - Governance Committee (Item 61)

61 Localism Bill pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Resources (copy attached).

Additional documents:


RESOLVED - That Governance Committee notes the key provisions of the Localism Bill and requests further reports as the Bill progresses, including proposals for implementation in Brighton & Hove.


61.1         The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director, Resources detailing the key provisions of the Localism Bill, which deals with Government proposals in relation to local authority governance arrangements, community empowerment, planning and housing.


61.2         The Chairman noted that officers from Housing and Planning departments were present to answer questions and that a briefing note for communities on the neighbourhood planning proposals had been circulated (see Appendix 1).


61.3         The Acting Assistant Head of Law explained that, although the current draft of the Bill indicated that the council may not be able to move to a committee system until 2015, there remained the option of putting forward alternative governance arrangements. The second reading of the Bill took place on 17 January and the public committee debate stage was now underway and due to finish on 10 March; the report stage would follow and Royal Assent was expected in November 2011.


61.4         Councillor Mitchell stated that the Bill contained a mixture of proposals, including some good opportunities for communities, but noted that it would be essential that all sections of the community were empowered to use new mechanisms. She requested that seminars be organised for Members as the Bill progressed.


61.5         Councillor Morgan raised concerns about the abolition of the existing Standards Framework, including the independent process for holding Members’ to account, and queried how the council would do this in the future.


61.6         Councillor Simson advised that Members must play a role in providing clear information to prevent any misunderstanding of the Bill within communities. She added that the council would do all it could to empower people across the city and target hard to reach communities.


61.7         Councillor Elgood welcomed the Bill, which he felt offered wide-ranging opportunities to give more power to local people, particularly in relation to neighbourhood planning. He highlighted the proposals in relation to assets of community value and the opportunities it presented to reclaim building, such as the Old Market, for community use.


61.8         Councillor Kitcat suggested that a road map for the future of the Standards regime would be useful to Members and noted that the council would need to be proactive in preventing conflict amongst community groups.


61.9         Councillor Mears welcomed the wide-ranging nature of the Bill and agreed that an independent process for holding Members to account was required. She advised that she intended to write to the city’s three MPs about the provisions in the Bill in relation to the possibility of returning to a committee system.


61.10    The Acting Assistant Head of Law confirmed that no dates had been set for the publication of secondary legislation and that discussions in Parliament had noted the grey areas identified by Members. In relation to the Standards regime, the duty to uphold and promote a high standard of conduct would remain, making it necessary for the council to use some sort of framework.


61.11    The Head of Legal & Democratic Services reported that the Standards Committee was shadowing the Bill as it progressed and may establish a working group. The intention was for a framework and report to be presented to the Governance Committee before seeking final approval from the Full Council.


61.12    In response to questions from Councillor Fallon-Khan and Davey, the Head of Planning Strategy explained that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was designed to compliment existing Section 106 arrangements by recognising the need for ongoing development of infrastructure. Local authorities would have the option to impose a CIL and funds could be passed on to neighbourhoods if appropriate. The CIL could also contribute to development citywide.


He also explained that Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) must comply with the Local Development Plan and would therefore be able to promote more, but not less development. He agreed to provide a written response to the Committee detailing the relationship between a NDP and a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO).


61.13    In response to a question from Councillor Mitchell in relation to accountability, the Acting Assistant Head of Law advised that final accountability for the operation of new mechanisms was likely to be determined provision by provision; in the case of assets of community value, local authorities would be required to consider and approve a business case before an asset is transferred to a community group.


61.14    RESOLVED - That Committee notes the key provisions of the Localism Bill and requests further reports as the Bill progresses, including proposals for implementation in Brighton & Hove.


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