Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Assembly's First Bill - Local Government Byelaws

Just before the Assembly went into recess, the Welsh Government laid the first bill since the successful March referendum in front of the Senedd. The Local Government Byelaws Bill will "simplify procedures for making and enforcing local bylaws".

Byelaws are pieces of delegated legislation passed by local authorities that can "provide an effective and flexible method of addressing a variety of local problems." But I bet you already knew that, right? A local authority is defined in the Bill as a county borough council (unitary authority), national park authority, the Countryside Council for Wales or town/community council.

In some cases legislation by the Assembly and Westminster has superseded the need for byelaws, however local authorities still have the power to make byelaws in certain areas such as:
  • Taxis
  • Parks, recreation grounds, open spaces, promenades
  • Graveyards, mortuaries, crematoria and burial grounds
  • Prevention of "nuisances"
  • Public toilets
  • Swimming and bathing pools
  • Walkways and public rights of way
  • Hairdressers, barbers, acupuncture and tattooists
  • Conduct in libraries and museums
  • Car parks

The new bill proposes several changes to the procedures through which byelaws are made:
  • It removes the requirement of Welsh Ministers (Welsh Government) or UK Secretary of State approval for byelaws in certain areas (Schedule 1 Part 1 of the Bill). This list can be amended by the Welsh Ministers by adding or subtracting areas.
  • It gives local authorities the option to issue fixed penalty notices for certain byelaws (Schedule 1 Part 2) which is "more effective and efficient" than through the Magistrate's Courts.
  • It allows local authorities to seize or retain property connected with breaches of a byelaw.
  • Welsh Ministers will retain approval powers for byelaws relating to the environment and child employment and will also be able to revoke "obsolete" byelaws.
  • Local Authorities will be legally required to go through a consultation process to see if a new byelaw is an appropriate measure and publish an intention to make a new byelaw one month before the byelaw is made.

It's estimated that for byelaws that would no longer require confirmation, it would save the Welsh Government £1250 per byelaw and by avoiding the Magistrate's Court, would save £500-1000. The cost of the consultation process in creating a new byelaw is estimated to be between £2000-3000. There are currently about 4 or 5 byelaws confirmed by the Welsh Ministers each year.

OK, like many things coming out of this current Assembly it's not grand stuff. However this could be seen as - in part - a devolution of powers away from Cardiff Bay and a small reduction in local government bureaucracy.


  1. Hardly earth-shaking in its magnitude.


  2. The second Bill has been unveiled now - the Food Hygiene Ratings (Wales) Bill.

    Please try and contain your excitement.