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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

London Local Authorities Bill
 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

The Bill is promoted by Westminster City Council on behalf of the London borough councils (including the Common Council of the City of London but excluding the Council of the London Borough of Hillingdon). It makes provision for the improvement and development of local government services in London.

PART 1 PRELIMINARY

Clause 1 recites the short title of the Bill and the collective title and provides for the commencement of the Bill to be two months after Royal Assent, except where there is an appointed day provision.

Clause 2 sets out the major definitions of the Bill.

Clause 3 provides for an appointed day for certain provisions of the Bill to come into effect. This is to be determined by each of the boroughs subject to a notice period requiring advertisement of the appointed day and the effect of the provisions coming into operation on that day.

PART 2 ABANDONED VEHICLES

Part 2 contains provisions which, amongst other things, alter the way in which the existing legislation in relation to the removal, storage and disposal of abandoned vehicles operates in London.

Clause 4 alters the application of section 3 of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 (“the 1978 Act”) by shortening the period during which a notice must be placed on certain abandoned vehicles, before removal and destruction.

Clause 5 alters the provisions in the 1978 Act which relate to the disposal of vehicles so that certain vehicles can be disposed of immediately after they have been removed from the highway (for example where no current licence is displayed on the car). It also shortens, from 21 days to 14 days, the period of notice to be given to the owner after which local authorities may dispose of other abandoned vehicles. It also clarifies and simplifies the steps which authorities have to take in identifying the owner of a vehicle.

Clause 6 makes provision about the charges which may be made by local authorities in respect of the removal, storage and disposal of abandoned vehicles.

Clause 7 makes provision for the definition of the owner of a vehicle under the 1978 Act, with a presumption that the owner shall be the registered keeper.

Clause 8 enables borough councils to enter vehicles for the purpose of removing articles from them. The council may dispose of such articles if not claimed within a certain period.

Clause 9 enables local authorities to disclose information about the ownership of vehicles to other councils or to Transport for London, where it is necessary to do so for the purposes of enforcing certain other road traffic legislation.

PART 3 PUBLIC HEALTH

Part 3 contains a wide variety of provisions associated with public health.

Clause 10 enables officers of the council to stop and detain motor vehicles for the purpose of testing their vehicle exhaust emissions. At present, councils are able to test vehicles under regulations made under Schedule 11 to the Environment Act 1995, but rely on the police to stop vehicles to enable those tests to be carried out.

Clause 11 enables councils to serve notices on the owner or occupier of buildings or structures (including bridges) in a case where the roosting of birds on the structure concerned causes nuisance to pedestrians using the highway. The notice may require the owner or occupier to carry out works to prevent the roosting of birds. The owner or occupier is required to carry out the works specified in the notice and the council is able to carry out the works itself in default and recover the costs of doing so.

There are protective provisions included for certain statutory undertakers and protection is also included for listed buildings.

Clause 12 makes provision in relation to the depositing of waste for collection. It provides that in certain areas designated by the council, it will be an offence to deposit such waste on the highway and other open areas, unless the consent of the council has been obtained or if it is done in contravention of the conditions of any such consent. There is a right of appeal against the refusal of such consent, or the imposition of any conditions under such a consent.

Clause 13 amends the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939, the Building Act 1984 and the London Local Authorities Act 2000 so as to clarify the responsibilities of London boroughs in relation to dangerous buildings and the demolition of buildings.

Clause 14 enables councils to make a charge in respect of any determination as to whether or not standards in relation to food have been met in cases where such standards had not been met on a previous occasion. The clause also enables councils to provide training in relation to food safety and to impose charges in respect of such training.

Clause 15 amends section 5 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1982 which makes provision in respect of the repair of vehicles on the highway. There is a defence under that section which applies where the repair works are not being carried out as part of a trade or business. The clause places the burden of proving whether or not the works are carried out in the course of trade or business on the defendant.

Clause 16 provides a statutory offence of urinating or defecating in any public place in a borough and makes the offence a penalty offence for the purposes of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

Clause 17 provides, in places designated by the council, for a consent regime in respect of multiple dog walking. Any person who walks with 4 or more dogs under his control would require the written consent of the council to do so in such places. It would be an offence to carry out multiple dog walking without such consent, where the consent is required.

Clause 18 provides that it is an offence to supply, in the course of a business, aerosol paints or indelible marker pens to any person apparently under the age of 18.

Clause 19 amends section 12 of the London Local Authorities Act 1995 which makes provision about the defacement of buildings (in other words, graffiti). That section enables the councils to enter land and to remove graffiti from private property, but it does not allow the councils to recover their costs in doing so from the owner of the property. The amendment enables such costs to be recovered from the owner of the property. The clause also amends section 12 so as to apply not just to buildings and structures, but also to plant and apparatus.

Clause 20 provides that premises that are left unoccupied for more than six months must be registered with the council, and that the owner of the premises will be guilty of an offence if any such premises are found not to be registered.

PART 4 MISCELLANEOUS

Clause 21 amends Part II of the London Local Authorities Act 1990, which makes provision about night café licensing. Part II provides a licensing regime in respect of night cafés and provides that a night café licence is required in respect of premises left open to the public for the purpose of providing refreshments. The term “refreshment” is extended by Clause 21 to include smoking and the definition of “Night Café” is also extended so as to include premises which remain open to the public during the hours when a night café licence would normally be required, even if no refreshments are served. Provision is also made enabling authorised officers of the council to enter licensed night cafés for the purposes of ascertaining whether conditions attached to the licence are being complied with.

Clause 22 and Schedule 3 make a large number of amendments to Part III of the London Local Authorities Act 1990 which makes provision about street trading licences. Many of the amendments are technical in nature. In particular, provision is made so that the holding of a pedlar's certificate does not discharge a person's liability to obtain a street trading licence in cases where he is carrying out street trading. The amendments also modify the provisions of the 1990 Act relating to seizure and bring them into line with the street trading regime which exists in the City of Westminster under the City of Westminster Act 1999.

Clause 23 amends Schedule 12 to the London Government Act 1963 and section 15 of the London Local Authorities Act 1991 which make provision, respectively, about public entertainment licensing and licensing of special treatment premises. The clause brings into line with other licensing regimes the powers of entry of authorised officers.

Clause 24 amends section 29 of the London Local Authorities Act 1995 so as to remove an exception enjoyed by certain premises from the requirement to ensure that door supervisors at those premises must be registered by the council. The exception relates to premises at which the customary mid-day or evening meal is provided.

Clause 25 provides for an offence of soliciting persons or permitting the soliciting of persons to attend certain premises. Those premises are those at which public entertainment is provided (if not licensed by the council) and near beer premises (within the meaning of section 14 of the London Local Authorities Act 1995) and premises which the council is satisfied are being used or have been used for the unlicensed sale of liquor.

Clause 26 provides that authorised officers of the council may serve a fixed penalty notice on persons whom they have reason to believe have committed certain offences. The offences concerned are offences against byelaws of the council, and any of the offences listed in Schedule 4 to the Bill.

The fixed penalty notice gives the person on whom it is served the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for the offence by payment of a fixed penalty.

Clause 27 makes further provision about the procedure to be followed in relation to the giving of fixed penalty notices under the Bill, and under other enactments where a fixed penalty notice regime is already in place, namely section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Fixed penalty notices for leaving litter), regulations under section 87 of the Environment Act 1985 (Vehicle exhaust emissions) and section 4 of the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996.

Clause 28 provides that the councils, through a Joint Committee, may fix the levels of fixed penalties. Further provision about the fixing of such penalties and the application of funds received under the fixed penalty regime is made under Schedule 5.

Clause 29 provides the Secretary of State with reserve powers in respect of the levels of charges which may be fixed by the councils under clause 28. He may reduce such levels where he considers them to be excessive.

Clause 30 is intended to tidy up a technical deficiency in section 59B of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997. That section enables regulations to be made about the way in which London borough councils contribute towards the funding of the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority. This clause would enable such regulations to be able to apply formulae used to determine council tax bases.

Clause 31 applies certain provisions of the Hotel Proprietors Act 1956 with amendments. That Act provides that hotel proprietors must insure against loss or damage to guests' property. The amount to be covered by such insurance has not been altered since 1956 and remains at £50. The alteration will increase this sum to £3,000, and enable the Secretary of State to alter it further by Regulations.

Clause 32 increases the powers which are currently held by parks constables under the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Order 1967. It provides such constables with ordinary powers of a police constable and therefore brings them into line with the British Transport Police, the Royal Parks Constabulary and other similar bodies.

Clause 33 makes provision in relation to unauthorised advertisements. It addresses cases where, for example, promoters of certain events place wording on posters indicating a direction that the poster should not be placed anywhere where it is in breach of the advertisement regulations. It provides that certain defences to prosecutions for placing unauthorised advertisements will not be available in certain cases.

Clause 34 provides that it shall be an offence to fail to furnish a name or satisfactory address for service to an authorised officer of the council where the authorised officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting the person has committed an offence in respect of which the council may prosecute legal proceedings.

Clause 35 applies the whole of the London Local Authorities Act 2000 to the London Borough of Barnet (who did not participate in the promotion of that Act) and also applies section 4 of that Act (which relates to service of penalty charge notices in relation to parking on the basis of information provided by cameras) to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

PART V SUPPLEMENTAL

Clause 36 makes provision about authorised officers under the Bill and alters the definition of authorised officer under previous London Local Authorities Acts, the City of Westminster Act 1999 and section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (which makes provision about litter).

Clause 37 makes provision about evidence relating to the designation of land under Clauses 12 and 17. It provides that in any proceedings the council will be presumed to have taken all necessary steps in designating land unless proved otherwise.

Clause 38 makes it an offence to obstruct an authorised officer acting in the exercise of his powers under the Bill.

Clause 39 provides for a defence of due diligence in proceedings for offences under the Bill.

Clause 40 makes provision about the liability of directors where offences under the Bill are committed by a body corporate.

Clause 41 makes provision for the making of regulations under the Bill.

Schedule 1 lists provisions of the Public Health Act 1936 to be applied in respect of notices served by councils under Clause 11 (Nuisance from birds) of the Bill.

Schedule 2 makes provision about the way in which councils may designate land for the purposes of Clauses 12 and 17 of the Bill.

Schedule 3 sets out amendments to the street trading legislation under Part III of the London Local Authorities Act 1990.

Schedule 4 lists offences in respect of which fixed penalty notices may be served under Clause 26 of the Bill.

Schedule 5 makes provision about the councils' finances in relation to fixed penalty offences under the Bill. Amongst other things, it makes provision about the application of surpluses in their accounts.

Schedule 6 sets out the form of declaration to be sworn by parks constables.

Schedule 7 lists the local Acts under which the definition of “authorised officer” is amended under Clause 37 of the Bill.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

In the view of Westminster City Council the provisions of the London Local Authorities Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.


 
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Prepared 4 December 2001