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Localism Act 2011 - General Power of Competence In Force

February 20th, 2012 by Louise Humphreys

Posted In: Local Government

Tags: localism, competence, general power of competence, local government, localism act

The Communities Secretary signed a Parliamentary Commencement Order at the weekend bringing into force the general power of competence under section 1 Localism Act 2001 for principal local authorities in England.

The move comes as a response to Mr Justice Ouseley's High Court ruling that s. 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 did not give Bideford Town Council the power to hold prayers as part of the formal business of a meeting. The Communities Secretary claimed that the general power of competence "should effectively overtake the ruling". Whether that is the case remains to be seen and may form part of legal arguments at the Court of Appeal following Bideford Town Council's decision to appeal against the ruling.

The signing of the order means London boroughs, the Isles of Scilly as well as all county, district, metropolitan and unitary authorities can make use of the general power of competence with immediate effect. Parish / Town Councils who meet certain specified conditions are expected to be able to make use of the power by April. The Order also means wider powers for English fire and rescue authorities, integrated transport authorities, passenger transport executives, combined authorities and economic prosperity boards have come into effect.

The order does not apply to local authorities in Wales after the Welsh Assembly refused the government's offer to include those councils in the general power of competence. However, the Welsh Assembly has the power to legislate in this area.