Local Authority Matters – November 2021

4th November 2021

With the backdrop of COP26, there is no doubt that local authorities are key players in the game of combatting climate change, but they don’t hold all of the cards. The agenda of devolving central power to local government has slowed down if not stopped; but arguably, more localism is required in order to empower local decision makers to have both the power and the funding to devise workable local solutions to the net zero challenge.

Rural counties will struggle to reduce cars linking far flung towns in their borders; and cities will struggle to fund the retrofitting costs of all their housing stock. Interestingly, the County Councils Network released a report titled ‘The Role of Counties in Achieving Net Zero’, and argues the £11.6bn government support of local authorities to achieve net zero is insufficient. As well as the distances covered by rural authorities, it picks out the higher costs they have for retrofitting properties compared to urban councils.

Without a doubt, authorities and employers in regions will need to link up and work collaboratively together – only by transparently 'showing their hand' will innovative solutions transpire.

Fortunately, major corporates are focusing on ESG – environmental, social and governance issues – at board level and making this a key part of their purpose. Look at Blenheim Palace as a good example of a major landowner, employer and estate developer and its goal to achieve net zero by 2027 as a significant part of its purpose.

Local authorities need to harness the mood and work together for a strong shared vision, with land owners and developers to keep placemaking at the heart of what they are doing. In this issue, Rob Lynch talks about the importance of private and public sector collaboration and how macro events can impact local initiatives, with a smattering of Captain Kirk in the mix for good measure!

Jo Rees explores the recent announcement of Wales becoming a leading Green Industry Hub, and how this could create a new economic cluster in a vitally important industry.

Also in this issue, linked to climate change and the prominent working from home culture, digital infrastructure is vital to securing the UK’s place as a global powerhouse of productivity. Dominic Jones explores the current state of the UK’s national rollout of gigabit-capable broadband and how local authorities will be instrumental in supporting that agenda.

We also dive into further strategic partnerships, looking at the recent project our leisure team worked on with Reading Borough Council.

In other news, some of you may have spotted the release of PPN08/21. This will be of real interest to those seeking to harness local supply chains in their offering. Senior Associate Tomos Lewis flagged the key points of interest.

And finally, you might be interested in this article looking at protected disclosures by Debra Gers, a Senior Practice Support Lawyer in our employment team.

The future looks to be green

It looks as though Wales is set to become a hub for green technology and innovation as the UK looks to build back better from coronavirus.

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Delivering the infrastructure for gigabit-capable broadband

The importance of fast and reliable digital infrastructure has come to the fore. We take a look at delivering gigabit-capable broadband.

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How Brexit is impacting right to work

What are the right to work checks in the UK from 1 July 2021? Our immigration experts examine the new system in the UK.

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Work highlight – Reading Borough Council

Blake Morgan’s Local Authority team has provided transactional contract advice to Reading Borough Council as they have signed a partnership contract with the non-profit social enterprise organisation Greenwich Leisure Limited.

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First Employment Tribunal decision on protected disclosure claims

It is no surprise that many pandemic related Employment Tribunal claims have been brought over the past 18 months. We have now had the first decision relating to a claim for detriment for raising protected disclosures (whistleblowing) in the case of Lough v Taaks of Scotland Ltd and another.

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PPN08/21: a bidder’s approach to payment in the procurement of major government contracts

Public Procurement Notice 08/21 (PPN08/21) has been released by the UK Government. This will be of real interest to those seeking to harness local supply chains in their offering.

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