Insight Local Government Lawyer Insight February 2018 3 Welcome to Insight How can the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s complaints process help monitoring officers and local government lawyers improve local authority governance? As the commercialisation agenda takes hold, should the LGO’s jurisdiction go beyond its traditional boundaries? And in what circumstances should monitoring officers issue a s.5 report for members where the LGO has found or is investigating maladministration? Find out the thoughts of Michael King, who has been Ombudsman for just over a year, on these and other important issues in Derek Bedlow’s must-read interview on pages 8-13. We also examine in this issue of Insight the growing appetite among councils to invest in commercial property – both inside and outside their local area – as they seek to increase income through the rental streams such deals provide. But concerns have been expressed in the property sector and – to the chagrin of the Local Government Association – the government appears to be moving to put the brakes on. The practice areas under the ‘Spotlight’ this edition are information governance, including preparations for the General Data Protection Regulation, and licensing, with Gerald Gouriet QC providing a thought-provoking piece on whether licensing committees are ignoring cumulative impact policies. Finally, experienced local government lawyer Rob Hann talks to us about his other career, writing award-winning books for children and about his father’s experiences in the SAS during WW2. We are always keen to find out about life beyond local government law, so do get in touch – we would love to hear from you. Philip Hoult, Editor Contents Risky business? p4 Mark Smulian asks if the current vogue for commercial property investments by local authorities could end in tears? Policing by consent, p8 We're here to help not just chastise, the new Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman tells Derek Bedlow. The Company Secretary in local government, p14 Azhar Ghose outlines the increasing importance of the Company Secretary role within local authorities and offers some tips on how it can be performed. Access to justice, p17 Killian Garvey discusses the recent High Court ruling to re-impose fixed costs for disputes in planning and environmental cases. The best of both worlds, p19 Sheffield City Council and law firm Geldards outline the benefits of their partnership approach for the public and private sector alike. Spotlight: Information Governance ● GDPR countdown: what the public sector needs to know, p22 Dan Milnes and Nat Avdiu outline the key steps that local authorities need to take before the deadline to comply with the GDPR in May. ● Staying legit, p24 In what circumstances will a public authority be able to disclose personal data for Freedom of Information post GDPR? Jon Baines investigates. ● A cautionary tale for local government, p26 Kerry Beynon provides some practical tips on how local authorities can ensure their data protection policies and procedures are sufficiently robust. ● A framework to undermine the ICO’s ability to enforce the new Data Protection Bill, p28 Chris Pounder asks whether the new Framework for Data Processing could inadvertently impede the regulator’s efforts to enforce the GDPR. Spotlight: Licensing ● Half time decisions in licensing appeals, p33 Sarah Lefevre looks at the first case in which the higher courts have supported the Magistrates Court’s ability to dismiss cases where there is ‘no case to answer’. ● Context is king, p36 Tim Briton looks at how licensing authorities - and their lawyers - can reach the "right" decisions in the absence of specific guidance from the law. ● Cumulative impact policies: More honoured in the breach? p37 Gerald Gouriet QC asks why many licensing committees seem to be disregarding their own Cumulative Impact Policies. ● Super strength judgment, p43 Philip Kolvin QC analyses the Supreme Court decision on minimum pricing. Hitting the books, p42 Rob Hann on life as an author. Local Government Lawyer Editor Philip Hoult Publisher Derek Bedlow Advertising Kate Coyne 01625 666 395