About the Localism Act
The Localism Bill was introduced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles in 2010. It became an Act of Parliament on November 16 2011 after it was granted royal assent by the Queen.
The Act represents a key part of the government’s agenda to shift power away from central government and with it brings about sweeping changes to the planning process in England and Wales.
The provisions relating to councils include:
- giving councils a general power of competence
- allowing councils to choose to return to the committee system of governance and allowing for referendums for elected mayors in certain authorities
- abolishing the Standards Board regime and the model code of conduct, and introducing local accountability and a criminal offence of deliberate failure to declare a personal interest in a matter
- giving residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue and the power to veto excessive council tax increases
- allowing councils more discretion over business rate relief
- providing new powers to help save local facilities and services threatened with closure, and giving voluntary and community groups the right to challenge local authorities over their services.
The government has published a Plain English Guide to the Act.
The Localism Act enshrined in law a new set of rights for communities. These are:
- Community right to challenge
The Community right to challenge came into effect 27 June 2012. This allows voluntary and community groups, parish councils or two or more members of local authority staff to express an interest in running a service currently commissioned or delivered by a local authority. Where the expressions of interest are accepted, the local authority must run a competitive procurement.
- Community right to bid (assets for community value)
The Community right-to-bid allows communities to nominate buildings and land that they consider to be of value to the community, to be included on a local authority maintained list. If any of the assets on the register are put up for sale or change of ownership, the community is given a window of opportunity to express an interest in purchasing the asset, and subsequently an opportunity to bid.
- Community right to build
As part of neighbourhood planning, the Act gives groups of local people the power to deliver the development that their local community want. They may wish to build new homes, businesses, shops, playgrounds or meeting halls. A community organisation, formed by members of the local community, will be able to bring forward development proposals which, providing they meet minimum criteria and can demonstrate local support through a referendum, will be able to go ahead without requiring a separate traditional planning application.
More information and details of support can be found at Community Rights
Mark Bieganski 01384 816846
Donna Roberts 01384 816919