Proposals announced in August by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears could give communities the power to make local laws to tackle issues like community safety, vandalism and public nuisances.
Councils will be able to ‘set, sign and now sanction’ local byelaws without always having to seek approval from Whitehall, but rather from their residents.<br><br>Communities are at the heart of the new proposals, ensuring that local people will have a direct say about the means to tackle local problems and the local laws that will ultimately affect them through greater consultation.<br><br>A consultation published today will also ask for views on whether councils and their communities should be able to revoke old and outdated byelaws independently, and also whether they should have the option of issuing sensible fixed penalties for breach of any new byelaws that are introduced as an efficient alternative to prosecuting through the magistrates’ courts.<br><br>Byelaws are put in place to tackle local problems which are not covered by national legislation such as urinating in public places; interfering with road signs or life saving equipment; climbing on bridges and playing ball games near a highway.<br><br>Today’s proposals will mean that councils will work even more closely with their communities to complete byelaws tailored to local problems without having to seek approval from Whitehall. This will make the system less bureaucratic, easier to understand and enforce, and devolve more power locally.<br><br>Secretary of State for Communities Hazel Blears said: "Public spaces are not public urinals, and highways are dangerous environments for kids to play beside – we want children to play safe outside and for local people to enjoy their neighbourhoods.<br><br>"Communities, who know their areas’ hotspots and problems, are best placed to identify and find solutions to the practical issues that matter to them. For the first time councils could now be able to set, sign and now sanction local laws without central government approval. This will make it easier to tackle problems, cut red tape, improve the wellbeing of their area and devolve more power to local people."<br><br>Government has published the consultation document The making and enforcement of byelaws, asking for views on the legislation that will underpin a new regime for the making and enforcement of byelaws in England. The proposed new regime will result in byelaws that are less bureaucratic to make, easier to understand and easier to enforce. The consultation can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/byelaws<br><br>Presently, byelaws have to be confirmed by the Secretary of State before they come into force. Government considers that this process is not always necessary and is proposing that authorities be allowed to make byelaws without always being confirmed by the Secretary of State. Accountability will become a truly local matter, with extensive consultation on the proposed byelaw ensuring that those affected by any new byelaw have an opportunity to comment upon it. Confirmation of certain byelaws by the relevant Secretary of State will be retained, for instance, byelaws that have broader scope than the community, such as an environmental impact, or where the byelaw is made by a transport authority, for instance an airport authority.
Late-night revellers who urinate or defecate on the City of London’s streets could face a fine of £500 as Square Mile authorities seek to combat the downsides of the burgeoning night-time economy.
A new byelaw was proposed in August by the City of London Corporation after a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour by those leaving nightlife venues in areas such as Minories, Watling Street, Smithfield Market and Shoe Lane. Stuart Fraser, City of London’s Policy Chairman, says: “The City has changed a great deal after-hours and at weekends and this proposed measure is needed to give our City Police a tough sanction against those who foul our streets. Nobody who works or lives in the City should have to put up with this kind of nuisance, venues need to play their part, too, by making sure their clients aren’t simply pushed out on the streets for others to deal with.”
Some neighbouring London boroughs have already set similarly high fines. The draft byelaw needs government approval before it can be consulted on and formally adopted.