Public Sector Law Blog

Regular opinion pieces on issues of interest to public sector lawyers from Practical Law Public Sector and leading commentators.

Archive for March, 2009

To snoop or not to snoop …

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

PLC Public Sector reports:

Recently, there has been much discussion about the use of the surveillance powers contained in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities. 

The most recent outcry follows the release by the Liberal Democrats of figures claiming that local authorities had used the surveillance powers at least 10,000 times in the last 5 years.  They claim that this level of use is far too high and also that those authorising the use are not senior enough.  

In this post, PLC Public Sector looks at the scope of these powers and considers what the future may hold for local authority surveillance.


Plain English please

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

PLC Public Sector reports:

Beacon councils have been told to make it a priority not to utilise confusing jargon to engage with customers in their municipalities after some blue sky thinking from the LGA.  Therefore, down stream, the menu of options for engagement with service users and clients will be scaled-back.


Planning permission jetty-soned in victory for “second homeowners”

Monday, March 16th, 2009

PLC Public Sector reports:

The recent High Court decision finding against Kerrier District Council (the Council) in favour of the Helford Village Development Company Limited (the Residents Group) made the headlines due to its “locals v second homeowners” billing.  The quashing of the Council’s decision to grant planning permission to the Parish Council for a jetty for local fishermen in the picturesque Cornish village of Helford has been described as a victory for second home-owning out-of-towners at the expense of the livelihood of locals.  (more…)

Personalisation – Empowering service users through individual budgets

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

PLC Public Sector reports:

The move towards personalisation, putting service users in control of their care, is part of the transformation of social care set out in ‘Putting people first: a shared vision and commitment to the transformation of adult social care‘.

Personalisation creates a number of interesting issues for local authority lawyers as service users manage their own budgets and buy bespoke services. For example, how does the council balance service user choice with the need to ensure it is discharging its statutory responsibilities? What will happen to the employees who were providing these services previously?  How can councils ensure that the flexibility of the arrangements doesn’t force smaller service providers from the market? We will be closely following and commenting on developments in this area. Here’s our starter for ten…


School Admissions – The parental preference to use lawyers

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

PLC Public Sector reports:

It’s that time of year again when the parents find out which schools their children will attend. The BBC reports that last year almost one in five children was refused a place at their first choice school. With many parents now appealing and instructing lawyers to act on their behalf, local authority lawyers are likely be increasingly called upon to offer guidance to their area’s admission authorities and appeal panels.