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Localism Act Published Dec 2010, enacted 15 th Nov 2011 Rother DC & Rother RVA Localism Workshop 30 th January 2012
Localism Act • The Bill received Royal Assent on 15 th November • It is expected that it will take full effect from 1 st April 2012 • Detailed regulations affecting implementation the various parts of the Act will be made by Order of the Secretary of State over the next few months
Points of interest to communities & local councils • • General Power of Competence Abolition of the Standards Board Community right to challenge Community right to buy Local referendums Right to veto excessive council tax rises Neighbourhood planning Community right to build
Abolition of Standards Board • Standards for England [ formerly SBE ] has been abolished • Nolan principles & standards in public life still exist • Policing and enforcement of Code of Conduct will rest with District Council & at least one independent person must be appointed to investigate and consider allegations. Views of this person will be sought by the DC before it makes a decision. • There will be no power of sanction only the ability to censure. • New criminal offence will exist relating to allegations of serious transgression by a councillor
Neighbourhood Planning • Neighbourhood Plans will be statutory • Community Led Plans – eg Village Action Plans are non-statutory • NPs provide an opportunity for CLPs to formally link to statutory spatial planning • Think of NPs as mini local plans operating at parish and neighbourhood level – potentially very labour intensive for the local planning authority.
How is the N. P. prepared ? • Instigated by parish council or neighbourhood forum • Plan prepared by local community - DC must provide support & advice • Extensive community engagement / consultation • Considered by independent examiner – looks at fit with DC‘s local development plan, national policy & alignment with neighbouring plans leading to non binding report • Proceed to referendum, simple majority in favour leads to adoption by local planning authority [ DC ] • Consultation on N. P. Regulations published 13 th October ends 5 th January - currently being evaluated
Front Runners [vanguard sites] • Govt. grant of £ 20, 000 awarded to 87 towns and parishes in first tranche and 36 in second tranche; third tranche bidding ended 4 th Nov. Bid is submitted by District Council and grant administered by DC • In Sussex we have Ringmer [ Lewes DC ] and Arundel [ Arun DC ] in first tranche • Cuckfield [ Mid Sx DC ], Angmering [ Arun DC] & a 6 council consortium in Arun awarded in second tranche
Conflicting messages ? • Govt. Ministers speak of handing power back to communities …. to decide vision for their areas as they see fit, localism in action. For residents to have a greater say over the ‘look and feel’ of their neighbourhoods. Return power to local people. • Is the hype matched by the reality, does it cultivate confusion ? • Neighbourhood plans v District Council’s LDF – if there is conflict over housing numbers LDF will prevail
Community Right to Build • Not just about housing – about meeting a range of infrastructure needs identified within the community for which Community Led Planning is ideally suited. • Requires a Neighbourhood Development Order to be made by DC • Potentially divisive within communities unless handled in a realistic manner. • Will require a clear majority of those voting in a referendum of electors within the Parish [ Act does not specify a minimum number voting ]
Right to veto excessive Council Tax increases • At town and parish level there are 8, 500 councils in England. • 70 of these have budgets greater that £ 1 m • 200 have budgets greater than £ 200 k • Act applies to a principal authority exceeding 3. 5% council tax increase but does no apply to any town or parish council in 2012/13
General Power of Competence • Provides ability for a local authority to act in the best interests of the community without specific legislation. • No action, save tax raising will be outside the scope, unless the action is specifically prohibited by law. • It turns the principle of Ultra Vires on its head.
Community Right to Challenge • Community & voluntary groups, parish / town councils and employees will have the power to challenge and take over a local service. • Principal authorities must respond to the challenge and consider the positive impact this could have on the community. • If proposal turned down, principal auth must publish reasons.
Community Right to Buy • Local groups will have the legal right to nominate ‘community assets’ including shops, pubs, land, libraries & leisure centres to be recorded on the District Council’s list. • If a listed asset goes on the open market its sale will be delayed to give that community the opportunity to prepare its business plan, secure funding and bid. • Such assets should be identified & flagged up in any Village Action Plan review.
Community Action Pilots, [formerly known as Community Directed Support] Opportunities within the framework of Localism
West Sussex County Council’s plan • Within 2 years to have 15 ‘clusters’ of communities and parishes delivering WSCC services in different ways • Established 4 pilot clusters to test the practicalities • Evolving arrangement, WSCC open to ideas and suggestions from others • Partnership of WSCC, SALC & Air. S to support the clusters
The pilot clusters • Coastal – actively comprising Angmering Littlehampton, East Preston & Rustington • Southwater hub – also includes Nuthurst, Shipley, West Grinstead, Broadbridge Heath, Lower Beeding & Slinfold • Chichester hub – includes the City Council plus 15 small parishes • Midhurst hub – initially focussing on a single issue in Midhurst
What sort of services are being discussed ? • Libraries – attractive to Southwater and Angmering where it is believed the service could be preserved, managed and delivered more effectively locally. • Minor highway maintenance – based on the established Burgess Hill cluster approach and of interest to the Coastal group. • Youth service – piloting the idea of provision being maintained and managed locally. • Community transport schemes and rural bus services
What to do next • If this has stimulated ideas for your community you should speak to Duncan Barratt Head of Community Development & Big Society West Sussex County Council duncan. [email protected] gov. uk