Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 24, 2016

Councils To Sit At Brexit Decision Table?

The Local Government Association has called for councils to be given “a seat around the table” when decisions are taken over how to replace EU laws as part of the UK’s exit negotiations.

In a statement issued in the aftermath of the vote for the UK to leave the EU, the LGA said “It is vital that local government is part of the team. EU laws and regulations impact on many council services, such as waste, employment, health and safety, consumer protection and trading and environmental standards. There cannot be an assumption that power over these services is simply transferred from Brussels to Westminster. If services are delivered locally, then the power over how to run them should rest locally too. Decades of centralised control over funding and services has distanced our residents from the decisions that affect their everyday lives. With greater control in our areas we can improve services and save money.”

The LGA also called on the Government to protect the “vital” £5.3bn of EU regeneration funding allocated up to 2020. This was necessary, it said, “to avoid essential growth-boosting projects stalling and local economies across England being stifled”. Leading lawyers who advise local government and the public sector have also reacted to the vote in favour of Brexit.

Philip Kolvin QC kolvinhead of Cornerstone Barristers said “The Brexit debate has been emotive and political. The consequences for our legal system have barely figured in it. But EU-inspired or mandated legislation is part of the bedrock of societal protection. I speak of health and safety, town and country planning, ecological protection, freedom of information, data protection, competition, discrimination, public procurement, indeed the very concept of proportionality which governs much of our regulatory system. Ahead of us lie profoundly significant legal questions. Are these protections to be thrown onto a bonfire of laws? If not, which are to survive and which are to be replaced, and if so by what? What is to happen to the common law which has been developed against the backdrop of EU legislation?”

Bethan Evans Bethan-Evans- local government partner at Bevan Brittan, said “Authorities across local government are waking to a very different future for politics, finance and governance. Inevitably there will be a policy vacuum following the resignation of the PM and other government changes that are likely to emerge. The devolution agenda has been driven to a large extent personally by George Osborne as Chancellor – can this survive a change in his role? More immediately, the fallout from the Brexit vote could have other impacts on local government. George Osborne proposed an emergency budget in the event of a ‘leave’ vote – if this now happens, and follows the previous approach to austerity, local government can expect to bear the brunt of further measures.”

Evans added “We believe it is unlikely that there will be any immediate impact on UK domestic law arising out of this historic ‘leave’ vote. This is because many areas of local government activity and regulation are rooted in policy and legal foundations flowing from UK membership of the EU. These include procurement, state aid and immigration rules. Until changes are made, local authorities will need to continue adhering to all relevant legal requirements whether they flow directly or indirectly from a EU source. The main impact will only emerge over the next two years, as the exit process becomes clear, and plans are made for the UK to leave the EU.”

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