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Legislation and principal council governance
The following sets out the main legislation relating to the topics covered. It includes both primary legislation (this an Act of either the UK Parliament or the Welsh Parliament) and secondary legislation in the form of regulations, orders or statutory codes. This does not contain a full description of the legislation only an overview.
Secondary legislation can only be made by the Welsh Government where there is a power to do so in an Act. The Act will then place conditions on the extent of this power and the process by which the secondary legislation must be made, for example it may require consultation with particular people or for the secondary legislation to be debated by the Senedd before it can come in to force.
You should be aware that legislation.gov.uk is a service provided by The National Archives (TNA) which carries and updates primary (Acts/Measures) and secondary (regulations/orders) legislation currently in force in the UK and their accompanying explanatory documents. There may be some delays between when a piece of legislation is amended or created for the first time by the Welsh Parliament and that amendment or new piece of legislation appearing on the legislation.gov.uk website.
As well as the Act, regulations or order the website will provide you with links to supporting documentation such as explanatory notes or memorandum. These explain the purpose and the content of the legislation in a less formal way. If the legislation were made by the National Assembly for Wales / Welsh Parliament, the versions as passed can also be found on the Welsh Parliament’s website; this website also publishes all the explanatory documents which accompanied the legislation, including the explanatory notes and explanatory memorandum. Note however, that the Welsh Parliament website does not update the original versions of legislation if they are subsequently amended. Legislation.co.uk does update the original versions.
Local Government Act 1972
This has been amended and updated many times since it was first passed but it remains the foundational act for principal councils in Wales (and England). The 1972 Act followed major reviews of local government and its functions and governance in Wales and England in the 1960s and it sets out the blueprint for the way in which councils must run their business, how and when elections take place and who can be a councillor.
It contains detailed provision about council meetings, agendas, papers, publication of documents and public access to meetings and documents. These provisions were amended by the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 to enable councils to meet flexibly in person, virtually or a combination of these. These amendments also provide for electronic publication of notices of meetings, meeting papers and background documents.
Read the Local Government Act 1972.
Local Government Act 1986
Much of this Act has now been repealed but the sections relating to local authority publicity and the prohibition of the use of council resources on political publicity remain in force.
Read the Local Government Act 1986.
Local authorities: code of recommended practice
This Code is published under section 4 of the Local Government Act 1986. It sets out the principles councils must follow when ensuring the resources of the council are being used appropriately for publicity.
Local Government and Housing Act 1989
This was a significant piece of local government legislation made to address several high profile issues at the time and much of it has been subsequently repealed. However, the sections relating to the political restriction of officers and staff, the duties of certain officers (the chief executive and the monitoring officer), the appointment and management of staff (including the appointment of staff on merit), the appointment of assistants to political groups and the political balance of committees remain in force and form key components of the political and general governance legislative framework.
The Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990
These regulations set out how a political group is to be determined and how seats on the council’s committees which are required to have political balance should be allocated.
The Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2014
These regulations amend the 1990 regulations to exclude area committees from the requirement to be politically balanced where the area is not more than half of the total area of the authority or its population. Area committees can be constituted by councils to advise on or discharge functions in relation to a particular geographic area of the council.
The Local Government (Assistants for Political Groups) (Remuneration) (Wales) Order 2009
This set the pay scale for assistants to political groups. The scale used is the nationally agreed scale (National Joint Council) for the remuneration of council employees below chief officer.
The Local Government (Assistants for Political Groups) (Remuneration) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2019
Amends the pay scale for political assistants to political groups from scale point 44 to scale point 38. Following a change in the way the scale is structured.
The Local Government Officers (Political Restrictions) Regulations 1990
Specifies a number of matters to be set out in the terms and conditions of officers appointed to post deemed to be politically restricted.
The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2006
These are the main regulations relating to the standing orders councils must have. Standing orders create the rule book by which a council operates. These regulations require standing orders to be made in relation to chief officers, meetings and proceedings, staff, disciplinary action.
The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
These regulations made amendments to the 2006 Regulations to update them for changes in the law and to require posts for officers with salaries of more than £100,000 to be advertised externally and for the appointment or dismissal of the chief executive to be a function of full council and for any change in that officer’s salary to also be a function of full council.
Local Government Act 2000
This was another important Act in the development of principal council governance. It created the concept of the separation of the executive from the full council. It did not go as far as the separation of the staff and resources of the council and these continue to serve both the full council and the executive. It also introduced the concept of elected mayors. It contains provision requiring a principal council to have a constitution, publish it and keep it up to date. This was amended by the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 which enabled electronic publication and introduced the requirement to publish and keep up to date a guide to the constitution.
Read the Local Government Act 2000.
Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Decisions, Documents and Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2001
These regulations set out the arrangements for giving notice of meetings of a council’s executive, publishing the papers for such meetings, recording decisions taken by the executive (including when taken by a committee of the executive and by an individual member of the executive) and additional rights of access (to documents relating to the business of executives) for other councillors and members of the council’s overview and scrutiny committees.
The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Decisions, Documents and Meetings) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
These regulations amended the main 2001 regulations (see preceding entry) to enable councils to meet flexibly in person, virtually or a combination of these. The amendments also provide for electronic publication of notices of meetings, meeting papers and background documents.
The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Discharge of Functions) (Wales) Regulations 2002
These regulations provide for the discharge of executive functions by another executive, another council, an area committee or a joint committee.
The Code of Conduct (Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Order 2001
This Order contains the statutory Code of Conduct for qualifying officers in principal councils. The Code sets out important principles such as political neutrality, compliance with policies relating to equality and the stewardship of public resources.
The Code of Conduct (Non-Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Regulations 2001
These regulations set out which council employees do not qualify to be bound by the Code of Conduct. These employees are teachers and firefighters. This is because they are bound by their own professional codes of conduct.
The Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) (Wales) Order 2006
These regulations set out the terms and conditions under which councils may offer indemnities to their members and staff who are acting on behalf of the council.
The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Functions and Responsibilities) (Wales) Regulations 2007
These regulations set out in detail the functions which are not to be the responsibility of the executive, the functions which may, but do not have to be, the functions of the executive and the functions which are not to be the sole responsibility of the executive.
Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011
This is Wales-only primary legislation. This Measure followed extensive consultation on support for elected members and how to improve scrutiny in principal councils. It created the role of the Democratic Services Committee and the Head of Democratic Services. It makes changes to the procedures Councils must follow when changing their executive arrangements. It provides for the delegation of some functions to area committees and individual councillors. It also creates further provision about the role of scrutiny committees and enables the creation of joint scrutiny committees. It prohibits the use of the political whip on scrutiny committees.
The Local Authorities (Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2013
These regulations set out procedures for the operation of joint scrutiny committees including their appointment and functions, membership, proceedings and co-option.
Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021
This Act (amongst other things) amended the title of the head of paid service to chief executive in the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. It also removed the prohibition in the 2011 Measure on the Monitoring Officer also being the Head of Democratic Services. It amended section 37 of the Local Government Act 2000 to require councils to publish their constitutions and a guide to it electronically. It also amended the Local Government Act 1972 to enable council meetings to be held virtually or partly virtually and for meeting papers to be published only in electronic form. It also creates assistants to the executive and the ability for a maximum of 3 executive posts to be held on a job sharing basis by elected members. It also amended the title, functions and operating procedures of governance and audit committees. In addition, it included the duties relating to public participation and petition schemes.
Local authority multi location meetings: interim guidance
Statutory guidance on local authority meetings issued under section 47 of the 2021 Act. This provides guidance on holding multi location meetings where some members may be attending through electronic means.