LGA victory on EU fines
- Published on Tuesday, 20 September 2011 15:09
- Posted by Scott Buckler
Ministers will be prevented from arbitrarily passing EU fines onto councils under key concessions to the Localism Bill which have been secured by the Local Government Association (LGA)
In its original form the Localism Bill gave ministers sole power to force councils to pay fines levied by the EU against the UK Government for missing national targets, which the Government agreed to, on issues like improving air quality. The LGA warned that the move was unfair, unconstitutional and dangerous as it offered no independent appeal and arbitration process in case of any dispute.
Following sustained lobbying by the LGA, the Government has made a number of key concessions, which have been tabled as Government amendments to the bill. Amendments include the introduction of a statutory policy which will describe the conditions under which national fines can be reallocated to local authorities.
The conditions include:
- Proposals to pass fines to local authorities will be subject to votes in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
- Ministers cannot pass on fines to local authorities in respect of anything that took place before that specific parliamentary vote.
- If a council contests the fine, the issue will be ruled on by an independent panel that includes local government representatives, nominated by the LGA.
Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the LGA, said:
"This is a fantastic result for local government and council tax payers. The previous system was unfair and unconstitutional and could have seen the Government arbitrarily pass its fines onto councils. The amendments, for which we successfully lobbied, mean any decision to reallocate fines will be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny, with further systems of checks and balances introduced which make the proposals demonstrably fairer. We will continue to fight to ensure councils are not lumped with fines they do not deserve."