Local Government (Wales) Act 2015

Document Number:2015 anaw 6
 
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An Act of the National Assembly for Wales to make provision for and in connection with a reduction in the number of principal local authorities in Wales and to make other amendments of local government law as it applies in relation to Wales.

Having been passed by the National Assembly for Wales and having received the assent of Her Majesty, it is enacted as follows:

Introductory

1 Overview

(1) This Act makes provision for, and in connection with, the merger of 2 or more existing principal areas into a single new principal area, with a new principal local authority; and more specifically—

(a) sections 3 to 10 make provision enabling the Welsh Ministers to make regulations merging existing principal areas into a new principal area, with a new principal local authority, in response to an application made by the existing principal local authorities;

(b) sections 11 to 15 make provision for transition committees to be established by principal local authorities for existing principal areas which are proposed to be merged into a new principal area (whether by regulations or by a Bill introduced in the National Assembly for Wales by the Welsh Ministers);

(c) sections 16 to 24 make provision for electoral arrangements and related matters in relation to new principal areas;

(d) sections 25 to 28 make provision for and in connection with the remuneration of members of principal local authorities for new principal areas and their senior officials;

(e) sections 29 to 36 make provision enabling the Welsh Ministers to impose restraints on transactions by, and other activities of, principal local authorities for principal areas which are proposed to be merged into a new principal area;

(f) sections 37 and 38 provide for the imposition of requirements on those principal local authorities to provide information.

(2) This Act also makes other amendments to local government law; and more specifically—

(a) section 39 makes provision for controls on the salaries of heads of paid service of principal local authorities to apply to other chief officers for a temporary period;

(b) section 40 makes changes to the duty of certain local authorities to have regard to recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales;

(c) section 41 makes provision about the membership of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales;

(d) section 42 amends the provisions relating to surveys of councillors and unsuccessful candidates for election as councillors;

(e) section 43 provides for the saving of electoral proposals submitted to the Welsh Ministers before the commencement of Part 3 of the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 came into force.

2 Main definitions

(1) The following definitions have effect for the purposes of this Act.

(2)“Merger regulations” means regulations under section 6.

(3)“Merging authority” means—

(a) a principal local authority for a principal area which is to be merged into a new principal area by virtue of merger regulations, or

(b)(except where the context otherwise provides) a principal local authority for a principal area which is to be merged into a new principal area by virtue of provisions of a Bill introduced in the National Assembly for Wales by the Welsh Ministers or an Act of the National Assembly for Wales.

(4)“Principal area” means a county or county borough in Wales.

(5)“Principal local authority” means the local authority for a principal area.

(6)“Proposed principal area” means an area specified as a new principal area—

(a) in an application under section 3(1) or in merger regulations, or

(b) in proposals published by the Welsh Ministers (whether or not in a draft Bill) , in a Bill introduced in the National Assembly for Wales by the Welsh Ministers or in an Act of the National Assembly for Wales.

(7)“Shadow authority” means—

(a) an authority which has been established as a shadow authority in accordance with provision included in merger regulations under section 7 , or

(b) an authority which has been elected as a shadow authority for a new principal area specified in an Act of the National Assembly for Wales in accordance with provision made by the Act.

(8)“Transfer date” means—

(a) in relation to a case in which the areas of principal local authorities are (or are to be) merged into a new principal area by virtue of merger regulations, 1 April 2018;

(b) in relation to a case in which the areas of principal local authorities are (or are to be) merged into a new principal area by virtue of an Act of the National Assembly for Wales, 1 April 2020.

(9)“Transition committee” means a transition committee established in accordance with regulations under section 11.

Voluntary mergers of local authorities

3 Proposals for merger

(1) Any 2 or more principal local authorities may, no later than 30 November 2015 or such later date as the Welsh Ministers may by regulations specify, jointly make to the Welsh Ministers an application proposing the merger of their principal areas into a new principal area.

(2) Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972 (arrangements for discharge of functions by local authorities) does not apply to the function of making an application under subsection (1).

(3) The function of making an application under subsection (1) by a principal local authority is not to be the responsibility of an executive of the principal local authority under executive arrangements (within the meaning of Part 2 of the Local Government Act 2000).

(4) References in this Act to making of an application under subsection (1) include making, before the coming into force of this section, an application to the Welsh Ministers jointly by 2 or more principal local authorities proposing the merger of their principal areas into a new principal area.

4 Consultation before making merger application

(1) Before an application is made by principal local authorities under section 3(1) the principal local authorities must consult—

(a) members of the public in any principal area likely to be affected by the proposal for merger (an “affected area”) ,

(b) the principal local authorities for affected areas and councils for communities in any affected area,

(c) the National Park authority for any area falling wholly or partly within any affected area,

(d) the chief officer of police and the police and crime commissioner for any police area falling wholly or partly within any affected area,

(e) the fire and rescue authority for any area falling wholly or partly within any affected area,

(f) the local health board for any area falling wholly or partly within any affected area,

(g) every trade union which is recognised (within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992) by one or more of the principal local authorities, and

(h) any other persons which the principal local authorities consider appropriate.

(2) Subsection (1) must be satisfied in relation to an application made before the coming into force of this section (as well as to one made afterwards); and any consultation undertaken before the coming into force of this section may satisfy the requirements of that subsection.

5 Guidance about merger applications

(1) The Welsh Ministers may issue guidance—

(a) as to the objectives which a proposal contained in an application under section 3(1) should be intended to achieve,

(b) about matters that should be taken into account in formulating the proposal contained in an application under section 3(1) ,

(c) about how the consultation required by section 4(1) is to be conducted, and

(d) otherwise in relation to the making of applications under section 3(1).

(2) Principal local authorities must have regard to any guidance issued under subsection (1).

(3) The requirement in subsection (2) may be complied with by having regard to any guidance in relation to any of the matters referred to in subsection (1) which was issued by the Welsh Ministers before the coming into force of this section.

6 Power to make merger regulations

(1) Where an application is made to the Welsh Ministers under section 3(1) , the Welsh Ministers may, if they consider it appropriate to do so, make regulations for the constitution of a new principal area by merging, to create a new principal area, the principal areas of the principal local authorities by which the application was made.

(2) Merger regulations must provide for—

(a) the establishment of the new principal area and the abolition of the existing principal areas,

(b) the boundary of the new principal area,

(c) the English language name and Welsh language name of the new principal area,

(d) whether the new principal area is to be a county or a county borough,

(e) the establishment, as a county council or a county borough council, of a local authority for the new principal area,

(f) the English language name and Welsh language name of the new principal local authority,

(g) the transfer of functions of the merging authorities to the new principal local authority, and

(h) the winding up and dissolution of the merging authorities.

(3) Where the new principal area is to be a county, the merger regulations must provide for the new principal local authority to have the name of the county with the addition—

(a) in the case of the English language name, of the words “County Council” or the word “Council”, and

(b) in the case of the Welsh language name, of the words “Cyngor Sir” or the word “Cyngor”.

(4) Where the new principal area is to be a county borough, the merger regulations must provide for the new principal local authority to have the name of the county borough with the addition—

(a) in the case of the English language name, of the words “County Borough Council” or the word “Council”, and

(b) in the case of the Welsh language name, of the words “Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol” or the word “Cyngor”.

7 Shadow authorities

(1) Merger regulations must—

(a) make provision for there to be established from a specified date a shadow authority consisting of all the...

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