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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council: 18th December, 2013

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Council Constitution / Officer Delegations: Amendments / Additions

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To enable Council to consider minor amendments / additions to the Council's Constitution and Officer Delegations. 

2.         To confirm the allocation of responsibilities between officers and Members relating to the preparation of new Definitive Maps and Statements and dedication of Public Rights of Way on Authority-owned land.

Recommendations

1.         That the Director of Development Services be granted delegated powers to authorise the preparation of Definitive Maps and Statements for the relevant area and to authorise preparation of a consolidated Definitive Map and Statement for the relevant area.

2.         That the Director of Development Services, in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member, be granted delegated powers to authorise dedication of Public Rights of Way on land owned by the Council, subject to consultation with the relevant service area.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1&2. To confirm responsibilities for Public Rights of Way related functions.

 

Background

3.         The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements (Functions and Responsibilities (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, which came into force on 2nd December, 2009 amended the (similarly named) 2007 Regulations (which were reported to Council on 9th May 2009). 

4.         As reported to Council on 9th December 2009 and Planning Committee on 20th May 2010, the effect of the 2007 Regulations was to re-allocate certain functions, previously the responsibility of the Council, to the Executive.  The Regulations consolidated the original 2001 Regulations, and all subsequent amendments and continued to have the effect of making most local authority functions the responsibility of the Executive.  However, again as previously reported, certain Highways / Rights of Way functions were not included in the consolidated 2007 Regulations.  This, consequently, had the unintended effect of transferring certain Rights of Way responsibilities from the Full Council to the Executive.  These functions had previously been exercised by a Public Rights of Way Sub-Committee of Cabinet.

5.         The 2009 Regulations reverted these functions so they became matters for local choice (i.e. for authorities to determine whether they wished them to remain the responsibility of the Executive or return them to a committee of Full Council), for instance a sub committee of the Planning Committee.  The Council did, indeed, on 9th December, 2009 resolve to transfer responsibility to a new Rights of Way Sub Committee of the Planning Committee.  In addition, certain other related functions under the Highways Act 1980 had also been added to the Regulations as ones for "local choice".  Planning Committee on 20th May 2010 agreed to split these between the Planning Committee, the Rights of Way Sub Committee and officers. 

6.         Definitive Maps and Statements of Public Rights of Way are legally conclusive documents describing the existence and location of Public Rights of Way for the area(s) to which they relate.   In 1981, the Wildlife and Countryside Act introduced a process of continuous review, requiring maps and statements to be modified by Order where legal or evidential events occurred. The result of this is that historic Definitive Maps must be read in conjunction with Orders that have modified them. There are currently two Definitive Maps that cover the Vale of Glamorgan and around 380 Modification Orders. 

7.         Preparation of new Definitive Maps under Section 57 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 allows republication of a Definitive Map and Statement incorporating all of those Orders that amend it.  Where multiple maps exist (e.g. due to historic boundary changes), consolidation of Definitive Maps under the Act allows a single map to be republished, again incorporating all Orders.  Republication and consolidation also provide an opportunity to improve base mapping (including scale and map quality) and to update descriptive elements of statements.

8.         Bringing the Definitive Map up to date and subsequently maintaining it are aims set out within the Vale of Glamorgan's Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP). The ROWIP includesd actions to complete a review of the Definitive Map and to improve procedures. The ROWIP was approved by Cabinet in October 2007 and published in November 2007, covering a period of 10 years from publication. The Public Rights of Way team have, therefore, since been working towards review and preparation of a new Definitive Map as part of ROWIP aims and actions.

9.         Dedication of Public Rights of Way with independent landowners is ordinarily undertaken by way of negotiating dedication by agreement under Section 25 of the  Highways Act 1980.  Dedication of Public Rights of Way on Council- owned land is, however, complicated by the Authority acting both as Highway Authority and Landowner. In such circumstances it is not appropriate for the Authority to conclude an agreement with itself and an alternative mechanism is, therefore, required.

10.      Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 enables a local authority to do anything which is likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic, social or environmental well being of the area.  Dedication may, therefore, take place under this section on the basis that dedication of a route as a public footpath will achieve these objectives.

Relevant Issues and Options

11.      The need to consolidate Definitive Maps and amending Orders will be a continuous concern beyond the life of the ROWIP.  Members are asked, therefore to consider granting appropriate delegated authority to the Director of Development Services to enable this to continue.  It will also be useful in terms of providing clarity as to authority for preparation of a new map under the current review. 

12.      Authority to agree dedication with independent landowners under Section 25 of the Highways Act 1980 is already a matter delegated to the Director of Development Services.  Authority to dedicate under Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000, subject to consultation with the affected service area, will address the difficulties in concluding dedications on land in the ownership of the Council where Section 25 of the Act is unable to be used.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      Capacity to dedicate routes on Council-owned land will assist in delivering sustainable transport projects.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      Sections 57 and 57A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 give authority for the Council to produce a new consolidated definitive map covering the whole of its area and taking account of historic boundary changes and incorporating all orders that amend the existing map.  Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 gives every local authority in Wales a power to do anything which they consider is likely to promote or improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of their area.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      There are no direct implications arising from the report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      The Council's Corporate Plan is structured around eight priority outcomes, which reflect the priority outcomes in the Community Strategy.  One of these is "Environment".

Policy Framework and Budget

19.      This is a matter for Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.      The monitoring and amending of the Constitution is an internal matter and, therefore, no consultation has been necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements (Functions and Responsibilities (Wales)

(Amendment) Regulations 2009

Report to Council: 9th December 2009

Report to Planning Committee: 20th May 2010

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services, Tel: 01446 709408

 

Officers Consulted

Director of Development Services

Operational Manager (Countryside and Economic Projects)

Public Rights of Way Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles, Monitoring Officer

 

 

 

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