HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Decision Report

Decision Maker:

County Council

Date of Decision:

16 July 2009

Decision Title:

Sustainable Communities Act 2007

Report From:

Cabinet

1. Executive Summary

1.1. In May 2006 the County Council passed a Motion to support the original Sustainable Communities Bill. The Bill gained Royal Assent, becoming an Act, in October 2007. At the November 2008 County Council meeting, a notice of motion about the Act from Councillor Carew and amendments from Councillor Reid were considered. These motions can be found at Appendix B. Debate concluded that whilst the County Council supported the thrust of both the notice of motion and the amendments, detailed consideration of the matter be referred to the former Governance Committee in accordance with Standing Order 17.4. In accordance with Standing Order 17.5, Councillor Carew and Councillor Reid were invited to the Governance Committee's meeting on 26 March to explain the motion.

1.2. The purpose of this paper is to report back to the Council from the former Governance Committee on its recommendations regarding the notice of motion on the Sustainable Communities Act 2007.

2. About the Sustainable Communities Act 2007

2.1. The Sustainable Communities Act was introduced to Parliament as a Private Members Bill, sponsored in the House of Commons by Nick Hurd MP, receiving Royal Assent on 23 October 2007.

2.2. A key principle of the Sustainable Communities Act is that local people know best what needs to be done to promote the sustainability of their area. The aim of the Act is to bring communities and local government together to put a case to central government to enact change and involve local communities in decisions about spending in their area.

2.3. The central part of the Act allows county, district and unitary local authorities to submit proposals to government, upon invitation, for changes to existing national policy or legislation which will improve the sustainable economic, social or environmental well-being of the authority's area, or part of its area. The Schedule of the Act lists the things to which a local authority must have regard before making any proposals. Proposals may include the transfer of functions and funding. A regular cycle of invitations is expected.

2.4. There are criteria for the submission of proposals. For example, proposals must require central government action such as changing policy, regulations or even legislation. In other words, local government must not be able to carry out a proposal under existing powers, including the "Power of Well-being" under the Local Government Act 2000.

2.5. The Act specifies that should a council wish to put forward a proposal it will need to comply with the duty to establish, consult and reach agreement with a "representative community panel" of local people as described in Statutory Guidance. This Guidance permits the recognition of existing community panels.

2.6. The Act creates a duty on central government to produce local spending reports upon request which detail the amount of public money spent in each local authority area. The reports were required by law to be in place by 23 April 2009. The first Local Spending Reports were unfortunately brief and lacked crucial detail meaning that only limited detail has been available in this first round of applications.

2.7. The Local Government Association (LGA) has been designated a "Selector" role to filter workable proposals into a shortlist. The LGA will then negotiate and "reach agreement" with the Secretary of State on which proposals will proceed into action.

2.8. The Secretary of State issued an invitation, on 14 October 2008. All proposals must be submitted to the LGA by 31 July 2009.

3. Former Governance Committee Recommendations

3.1. The minutes of the former Governance Committee meeting may be viewed at: http://www.hants.gov.uk/decisions/decisions-docs/090326-govctt-R0407095904.html

3.2. The former Governance Committee had a wide-ranging discussion on the Sustainable Communities Act. The Committee were mindful of the opportunities and the wide range of issues and challenges which the Act presents.

3.3. The Committee resolved that it would recommend to the Council:

3.4. At this stage there is no information from Government about the frequency and timing of any future rounds of invitations for proposals. Accepting the principle of part (c) of the above recommendations the Policy and Resources Select Panel may be invited to be engaged in this work but clarification on their role will be required. Therefore County Council are asked to agree an amendment to this part of the recommendation which engages the Policy and Resources Select Committee in supporting the Executive in managing the progression of any County Council response to the Act.

3.5. An additional item was discussed regarding the Sustainable Communities Act. It was also resolved by the former Governance Committee that it would make an additional recommendation:

3.6. A Part II report for Member's information on this matter sets out this proposal in detail. The decision to submit proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 rests with the Executive. County Council is asked to note that this matter has, therefore, been referred to Cabinet for consideration.

4. Recommendation(s)

4.1. In considering the former Governance Committee's recommendations and the additional information at paragraphs 4.4 and 4.6 The County Council is invited:

a) To adopt the former Governance Committee's recommendations:

b) To agree that Members of the County Council be invited to generate and flag ideas for proposals and that the Policy and Resources Select Committee be engaged in supporting the Executive to manage the progression of the County Council's responses to the Act; and

c) Note that the decision to submit a proposal to the Local Government Association by 31 July 2009 rests with Cabinet.

CORPORATE OR LEGAL INFORMATION:

Links to the Corporate Strategy

Hampshire safer and more secure for all:

Yes

Corporate Business plan link number (if appropriate):

Maximising well-being:

Yes

Corporate Business plan link number (if appropriate):

Enhancing our quality of place:

Yes

Corporate Business plan link number (if appropriate):

Other Significant Links

Links to previous Member decisions:

 

Title

Reference

Date

Notice of Motion, Hampshire County Council

Report, Governance Committee

Report, Cabinet

n/a

612

799

20 November 2008

26 March 2009

29 June 2009

     

Direct links to specific legislation or Government Directives

 

Title

Date

   

Sustainable Communities Act

2007

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background documents

 

The following documents discuss facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and have been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report. (NB: the list excludes published works and any documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.)

 

Document

Location

None

 

Notices of Motion to the County Council meeting on 20 November 2008

The following is Councillor Carew's notice of motion:

Councillor Reid submitted the following amendments, highlighted in bold type: