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Scrutiny of LAAs: what can be done now?
14-05-2009, 09:00 AM
Post: #11
RE: Scrutiny of LAAs: what can be done now?
The CfPS's guidance issued this week is really helpful. In two tier areas two options are put forward:

- a county council committee to which district councillors could be co-opted;

- informal task and finish groups for joint scrutiny reviews.

Can I get some comments on two other suggested ways forward?

(1) Joint Committee (using Section 102 Local Government Act 1972) - I am seeking advice on this from my legal colleagues, but wondered in advance of this advice whether any councils were using these powers (I note the CfPS guidance states: "In advance of the regulations, there is no legal provision for joint county/district scrutiny committees." I understand that several two tier areas already have joint scrutiny committees for the LAA - On what basis are these committees constituted?

(2) Informal Arrangements - This is mentioned in the CfPS guidance specific to scrutiny reviews, but I wonder whether the informal arrangements could be more general (I stress only as an interim measure in advance of the regulations) rather than geared to a specific scrutiny review. This would still mean any "decisions" would have to be ratified by a county council scrutiny committee.

Any views would be helpful.
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18-05-2009, 01:22 PM
Post: #12
RE: Scrutiny of LAAs: what can be done now?
The legal framework for partnership is becoming scrutiny's own Schleswig-Holstein question, only understood by three people, one of whom was dead.

Sorry this is dull, and not about What Really Matters - see earlier stuff on this. But in reply to Simon's comments above:

First point: what CLG would argue is that scrutiny committees set up under the Local Government Act 2000 are different legally from committees set up under the Local Government Act 1972 ('traditional' committees if you like). Therefore scrutiny committees cannot be combined using this provision. Some councils have either set up joint scrutiny committees without being aware of this legal argument, or have had different legal advice. There are a couple of different QCs opinions which CfPS and I have read on this which go in different directions. This is why we have been trying to get an amendment in the current Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, to clear this confusion up. If you acted on this basis, I can't imagine anyone is going to challenge you, but that's the legal argument.

Second point: yes, it would be an interim measure in two tier areas for any scrutiny recommendations which relate to LAA partners to go to a county LAA scrutiny committee for ratification. The partners signed up to the LAA would then have to follow the legal requirement that they have regard to the recommendations. So this would function as some kind of LAA scrutiny management committee or co-ordinating committee. Legally fine. It could change the recommendations, of course.
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