PLC Public Sector reports:
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Local authority standards regime: all local authority lawyers should be aware that the new standards regime under the Localism Act 2011 came into force in England on 1 July 2012.
EIR and FOI: information lawyers should note that:
- The Information Commissioner’s Office has published new guidance on the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 dealing with the confidentiality in proceedings exception and the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information exception. The ICO has also published guidance for public bodies dealing with requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) on when to neither confirm nor deny that information is held.
- The government has published its open data White Paper in which it commits to reviewing the charging regime under the FOIA and also whether FOIA’s scope should be widened to include organisations delivering public services.
Health and Social Care Act 2012: anyone advising on the implications of this Act should note that:
- The Department of Health has issued directions relating to the operation of Health Education England.
- The Local Government Association has published a guide to the Act.
Housing: housing lawyers will be interested in the following developments:
- The High Court in R (May) v Birmingham City Council has quashed a decision by Birmingham that the claimant’s circumstances hadn’t changed since her previous application despite her being forced to leave her temporary accommodation.
- Government guidance on the allocation of social housing.
Local government: local government lawyers:
- In Wales should note that the National Assembly for Wales has passed its first Bill, the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill. The Bill is currently awaiting Royal Assent.
- Interested in local authority organisation should be aware that the Local Authorities (Exemption from Political Restrictions) (Designation) Regulations 2012 have been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 26 July 2012. The regulations designate which person will have the functions of the head of paid service under section 3A of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 where a local authority has not designated one of its officers and therefore who is able to grant certain exemptions from the political restrictions imposed by the Act.
- Should note that Regional Development Agencies have been formally abolished following the coming into force of section 30(1) of the Public Bodies Act 2011.
Planning: planning lawyers will be interested in the Court of Appeal decision in R (Loader) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others, in which it held that the correct test to be applied by screening decision makers when deciding whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required is whether the project is likely to have significant effects on the environment.
Consultations: this week consultations have been published on:
- Parental internet controls.
- The national minimum wage for 2013.
- River basin management.
- Draft regulations on the Right to Control.
- HSE Approved Codes of Practice.
The Law Society has also published its response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on a separate jurisdiction for Wales.