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Stop Whitehall from providing model byelaws for local councils

Comment 18th July 2010

 

My suggestion is that Whitehall cease to provide model byelaws for local councils.
 
Local councils have lost control to draft byelaws that are relevant to specific localities because the model byelaws provided by Whitehall have effectively become requirements rather than examples. 
 
An example will clarify the problem. When my local council announced that it would consult on new byelaws for a local park that I regularly use, I took care to check whether the byelaws were well suited to the way I and others have long used the park. When it turned out that they were not, I suggested to the council that they be changed to reflect the reality of the place. The council recognised that the use of the park was as I described it, that there was no problem about this, and that their byelaws did not reflect these uses of the space. However, the council said they could not change the byelaws because they were simply choosing relevant sections from models approved by Whitehall.
 
They were concerned that anything different would be expensive to draft, untested in courts, a potential risk.

Why does this matter?

 

The importance of this issue is that:
 
  1.   byelaws by their nature ought to be adapted to local particularities, and yet the interpretation of "models" as requirements stops local councils precisely from doing this
  2.   byelaws generated by this centralised system become irrelevant to the spaces they are intended to regulate and therefore bring the whole notion of byelaws – and indeed laws – into disrepute
  3.    local councils' powerlessness to modify something as obviously local as the rules determining the uses of a particular space brings local councils and local democracy into disrepute


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