Reasons, reasons, reasons

This slipped under my radar, but thanks to @RichGreenhill on twitter for pointing to Section 7 of The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, in force as of 6 August 2014.

Section 7 provides:

7. (1) The decision-making officer must produce a written record of any decision which falls within paragraph (2).

(2) A decision falls within this paragraph if it would otherwise have been taken by the relevant local government body, or a committee, sub-committee of that body or a joint committee in which that body participates, but it has been delegated to an officer of that body either—

(a) under a specific express authorisation; or

(b) under a general authorisation to officers to take such decisions and, the effect of the decision is to—

(i) grant a permission or licence;

(ii) affect the rights of an individual; or

(iii) award a contract or incur expenditure which, in either case, materially affects that relevant local government body’s financial position.

(3) The written record must be produced as soon as reasonably practicable after the decision-making officer has made the decision and must contain the following information—

(a)the date the decision was taken;

(b)a record of the decision taken along with reasons for the decision;

(c)details of alternative options, if any, considered and rejected; and

(d)where the decision falls under paragraph (2)(a), the names of any member of the relevant local government body who has declared a conflict of interest in relation to the decision.

(4) The duty imposed by paragraph (1) is satisfied where, in respect of a decision, a written record containing the information referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (3) is already required to be produced in accordance with any other statutory requirement.

Also worth noting is Section 8 – a duty to make records of decisions available for inspection.

8. (1) The written record, together with any background papers, must as soon as reasonably practicable after the record is made, be made available for inspection by members of the public—

(a)at all reasonable hours, at the offices of the relevant local government body;

(b)on the website of the relevant local government body, if it has one; and,

(c)by such other means that the relevant local government body considers appropriate.

(2) On request and on receipt of payment of postage, copying or other necessary charge for transmission, the relevant local government body must provide to the person who has made the request and paid the appropriate charges—

(a)a copy of the written record;

(b)a copy of any background papers.

(3) The written record must be retained by the relevant local government body and made available for inspection by the public for a period of six years beginning with the date on which the decision, to which the record relates, was made.

(4) Any background papers must be retained by the relevant local government body and made available for inspection by the public for a period of four years beginning with the date on which the decision, to which the background papers relate, was made.

(5) In this regulation “written record” means the record required to be made by regulation 7(1) or the record referred to in regulation 7(4), as the case may be.

And Section 10

10. (1) A person who has custody of a document which is required by regulation 8 to be available for inspection by members of the public commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, that person—

(a)intentionally obstructs any person exercising a right conferred under this Part in relation to inspecting written records and background papers; or

(b)refuses any request under this Part to provide written records or background papers.

(2) A person who commits an offence under paragraph (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.

yes, that is a criminal offence of failing to make the record of a decision available for inspection.

Interesting. And potentially useful.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All and tagged .

2 Comments

  1. Surely this can’t mean that homelessness decisions (or similar) should be published on websites since to do so would contravene data protection?

    • The DCLG Guidance (here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-and-accountable-local-government-plain-english-guide) envisages a distinction between delegated executive decisions and administrative decisions taken under delegated powers (see page 14). The later do not have to be recorded etc..

      However, the boundaries of this distinction are far from clear, to say the least, given 7(2)(b)(ii). What is a delegated executive decision and what is merely an administrative decision?

      Indeed, the guidance suggests that allocating a property is administrative, but awarding discretionary rate relief is executive. I’m not sure that I can see the distinction there.

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