Customer Services, Sports & Leisure Cabinet Member – Minutes – 14 October 2014


35        (4)  MARRIAGE AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP PROCEEDINGS –  The Director of Places submitted a report which outlined changes to legislation following the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, and the changes set out in the Immigration Act 2014.

The report also sought approval to routinely offer Saturday ceremonies in the Council Chamber and set relevant fees.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force on 13 March. It was confirmed that before this date, same sex couples could only form a civil partnership in accordance with the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and there had been 96 civil partnerships formed in North Lincolnshire since the legislation was introduced in December 2005.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allowed those couples who would have chosen a marriage, if that facility had been available from 2005, to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

The conversion process was an administrative process with no legal waiting period required. The couple would attend the register office with documentary evidence and the civil partnership conversion would be completed on the same day. A fee of £45 had been set by central government for the conversion.

However,  The government had agreed to a period of time where this fee was to be waived and applied to the following:

§  Those who formed a civil partnership before 29 March 2014 who would have married if the facility had been legally available. 

§  Couples who converted between 10 December 2014 and 10 December 2015.

The registration service moved to the Civic Centre in April 2012.  There was a statutory ceremony room (the “Register Office” – capacity 20 people) plus the larger ceremony room (the “Civic Suite” – capacity 60 people) which was licensed separately as an approved premise.

The Council Chamber had not been used for weddings or offered as an option, however it was felt that there was potential demand for a ceremony room which could cater for up to 120 people. It was proposed that the Council Chamber be offered as a wedding venue on a Saturday only and an appropriate fee set, reflecting the opportunity to seat more guests.

The proposed fee for the Council Chamber on Saturdays only was £195.

The Immigration Act 2014 received Royal Assent in May 2014. The Act contained 77 clauses and made fundamental changes to how the immigration system functioned. Certain sections of the new legislation had implications for the registration service as the government attempted to reduce the number of people attempting to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership.

The legal notice period before a civil marriage could take place was to be increased from 15 days to 28 days in April 2015 for all those wishing to marry in England and Wales. It was explained that this waiting period may be extended to 70 days for those non European Economic Area nationals who came into the scope of referral under the new legislation.

Further details of fees and also statutory fee increases were outlined within the report and associated appendices.

Resolved – (a)  That the changes in legislation be noted; (b) that the proposed introduction of conversion ceromonies and the fees be approved, and (c) that the use of the Council Chamber for Saturday weddings and the proposed fee be approved.

36        (5)  REVIEW OF BRANCH LIBRARY OPENING HOURS – The Director of Places submitted a report which sought approval to changes to several branch library opening hours.

The report outlined that North Lincolnshire had a network of 15 static libraries and a mobile library service which were open to the public for a total of 358 hours per week.

The council had modernised and invested in the library service and included a new library at Broughton, relocation of Bottesford library, introduction of self-service facilities at nine libraries, free Wifi access in all libraries, and a range of 24/7 virtual services including e-books to complement traditional book lending services.

The opening times of the libraries had not been reviewed for several years and it was felt that it was timely to ensure that they reflected the needs of most customers and enabled the council to achieve the best possible value for money for local council tax payers.

Ashby, Barton, Brigg and Central Library opening hours were revised in 2012 were therefore excluded from the review.  The libraries being reviewed were: 

                        Bottesford                   Messingham

                        Crowle                        Park

                        Epworth                      Riddings

                        Haxey                          Winterton

                        Kirton Lindsey

Following analysis of the consultation responses, a set of revised opening hours for each library had been drawn up which proposed an overall increase of 36 opening hours per week.

Details of the present and proposed opening hours were set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

Resolved – (a) That the revised library opening hours set out in appendix 1 to the report be approved, and (b) that staff be authorised to implement the changes as from 1 January 2015.

Note: Reports are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and therefore require a suitable reader to view them. A reader can be downloaded free from the Adobe website (full instructions for downloading the reader are provided on the site). 

Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.