Agenda item

Update on the Implementation of the Local Government & Elections Act

To apprise the committee of ongoing implementation of the Act.


That the implementation timetable be noted and further updates be provided in due course.



The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced a report to apprise the Committee of ongoing implementation of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. He advised that the provisions of the Act would be brought into force by three commencement orders accompanied by other relevant subordinate legislation during March 2021.  These orders would   bring the relevant provisions into force on a series of dates between March 2021 and 5 May 2022.  As a consequence of the pandemic the commencement of a number of the Act’s provisions had been postponed to 5 May 2022 to correspond with the date of the next Local Government elections.  The Chief Officer reported on the main considerations and referred to the details of the commencement orders as shown in the report.


The Head  of Democratic Services advised that Commencement order No.2  had been  made on 11 March and dealt with the performance and governance regime for principal Councils and gave Welsh Ministers new support and intervention powers.  Commencement Order No.3 was made on 18 March and bought  into force provisions in respect of remote attendance at local authority meetings and arrangements for local authority meetings and documents, including requiring electronic publication of certain meeting documents.


Councillor Chris Bithell raised questions on the provisions under the first commencement order and the duties from 5 May 2022 for principal councils  to make arrangements to enable the electronic broadcasting of meetings; to establish a petitions scheme; and the  power to require authorities to appoint joint overview and scrutiny committees.  The Chief Officer advised that the Act formally made provision for the temporary arrangements put in place until May 2021 due to the pandemic for holding remote meetings.  He also said that provision was being made for electronic petitions to be made available.  Officers responded to the question on the enabling power to appoint joint overview and scrutiny committees and it was agreed that the Head  of Democratic Services would provide further  information on this duty following the meeting. The Head of Democratic Services referred to the   Local Government (Wales) Measure  2011  which advised that local authorities may set up joint scrutiny committees and explained that the wording had been changed from ‘may’ to ‘must’. 


Councillor Chris Bithell also sought clarification on the removal of the restriction on  monitoring officers also being designated Head of Democratic Services, and on the abolition of polls consequent on a Community  meeting, which were being brought into force on 5 May 2022 for principal councils.   In response the Chief Officer advised that the first matter had been  to provide  a statutory separation of powers: the post of Head  of Democratic Services which provided support to  non-executive members to fulfil their role was not combined with the post of the Monitoring Officer.  In response to the second matter he outlined how community polls were conducted and commented that the Welsh Government had probably determined that there were better ways of engaging with the public to determine public opinion


The recommendation in the report was moved by Councillor Jean Davies and seconded by Councillor David Healey.




That the implementation timetable be noted and further updates be provided in due course.


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