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30 July 2021

Publish date: 30/07/2021

Following a glorious- perhaps too hot for some start to the summer recess, the weather has turned significantly, and the rain has taken on somewhat biblical proportions. I was horrified to watch the water level rise in London, and I know other regions have suffered substantially as well. Germany of course saw a catastrophic event with loss of life, and elsewhere (often unreported), mudslides cause horrendous loss of life and infrastructure damage. The Met Office this month reported on a new study published in the journal 'Climate Change' which found that "the higher level of global warming, the projected increase in frequency or severity or both will be stronger for hot weather, droughts and flooding in the UK". In turn this will cause problems for the health sector, transport, agriculture and energy. The report suggests that days exceeding 25 degrees could increase four-fold; rainfall leading to flooding could increase by 4 days per year, and the severity and duration of droughts (on the level seen in 2010) increasing by 146%. If you are wondering the role local authorities can play in tackling climate change, Friends of the Earth have published 33 individual actions authorities can take covering a broad range of areas including buildings, procurement and transport. LLG will continue to incorporate climate change training modules into our webinar offering and conference programme whilst our corporate partners hold a vast array of information in published articles held on their own websites which are definitely worth a read.

In other news, the Law Commission's 14th Programme of Law Reform closes tomorrow which seeks to establish which new areas of law should be reviewed in their next programme with the aim of making the law fair, modern, simple and cost-effective. LLG capitalised on the ability to respond by making representations to both evoke a change in the law to extend statutory protections for monitoring officers in line with the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recommendation (number 22) way back in 2019 and seek to require a mandatory legal qualification to be held by a monitoring officer moving forward with the aim of raising the position of legal services within local authorities.

It's worth reminding ourselves here that the Caller report into failings at Liverpool City Council found that "the current delegations to the City Solicitor in the Officer Delegation Scheme are limited and do not reflect the significance of the role and its responsibilities or the work and activities that this officer and their team is, in fact and necessarily, undertaking" (para 8.9), that "Legal Services views were not always heard or were consciously ignored when raising valid concerns with other departments" (para 8.4). Further, "it was common practice for internal Legal Services to be presented with reports for "sign off" seemingly at the last possible moment with emphasis on the political support behind any proposal. This introduced unacceptable pressures on the internal team, impacting on the robustness of scrutiny, and increasing the reliance and trust placed (or potentially/occasionally misplaced) on the information provided by Officers submitting the report" (para 8.8).

The Law Commission report is expected within the first half of 2022.

Best wishes

Helen McGrath

Head of Public Affairs