Policy & Resources Cabinet Member – Minutes – 17 May 2012

1          (1)  LOCALISM ACT 2011 – COMMUNITY RIGHT TO CHALLENGE – The Director of Finance submitted a report which sought to introduce the main provisions of the ‘Community Right to Challenge’ under the Localism Act 2011 and to outline a proposed process for managing challenges.

The report outlined that the Localism Act came into force on 15 November 2011. Among its many provisions the Act provided new powers for local communities, with one specific and significant provision being the “Community Right to Challenge”. The final regulations and statutory guidance had yet to be published but there had been increasing pressure on councils to ensure that they had suitable processes in place prior to its anticipated implementation.

The Act provided ‘relevant bodies’ with the right to challenge the running of local authority services where they believed they could do this differently or better. ‘Relevant bodies’ included voluntary and community organisations, charitable organisations, a group of two or more council employees and parish councils.  It would be necessary for ‘relevant bodies’ to demonstrate how their proposal would enhance the social, economic and environmental well being of the area.

Council’s were required to make preparations in order that all expressions of interest would be considered fairly and consistently in accordance with published guidelines.

Appended to the report was a proposed copy of the process mapdetailing the decision making route that applications would take from their receipt through to a procurement stage, the proposed expression of interest questionnaire and an outline draft of a commissioning and Procurement programme.

Resolved – (a)  That the proposed process and timescales for managing the Community Right to Challenge be approved in principle pending the receipt of further guidance;  (b)  that the proposed development of a market position statement informed by the commissioning/procurement programme be supported to enable the council to actively manage expressions of interest, (c) that the corporate commissioning & procurement group be charged with finalising the Right to Challenge process and supporting framework, and (d) that the agreed process and timescales be formally incorporated in the council’s constitution through the planned update to Contract Procedure Rules in May 2012.