Summit Meeting with Councillors

The second of 2017’s twice-yearly meeting between LLS General Committee members and Councillors from the Local Authorities took place on 13 July. Four Councillors attended, being Ruth Bennett (Liverpool), Jane Corbett (Liverpool), John Stockton (Halton) and – for the first time – Stephen Williams (Wirral), heralding representation from across the Mersey. The essence of the discussions can be summarised as follows.

Some relevant legislation had been enacted since LLS last met a group of Councillors. I took the opportunity to update the Councillors, who in turn would need to be aware in their dealing with the authorities’ various departments. These include Statutes on Bus Services, Children and Social Work, Homelessness Reduction, Local Audit (Public Access), and Neighbourhood Planning.

I referred to a Court of Appeal decision on a Judicial Review of Local Authorities’ prosecuting powers under s222 of the Local Government Act 1972, and I made the point that very few Bills heralded by the Queen’s Speech in June 2017 had yet been published, and that I could not find any relating to local authority matters. This lack of many Bills is why I have delayed reporting in “Liverpool Law” on Bills published in this very early period of this new Parliamentary Session.

In Merseyside and Halton, the main political news apart from the General Election had been Steve Rotheram’s election as the City Region’s first Metro Mayor. John Ballam had invited Mayor Rotheram to visit LLS to discuss and he had had to decline due to his heavy schedule. The Mayor’s interim CEO, Sheila Murphy, was mentioned by Councillors, so a Meeting between her and LLS officers might be a possibility to explore. The Mayor’s responsibilities in the fields of Employment and Skills, Transport, and Housing are fields where a variety of LLS members might need to advise Clients and perhaps feed suggestions to his office.

Chris Topping, Chair of LLS’s Access to Justice Committee, referred to two areas. First, a reminder of the LASPO review and connected with it the Labour Party’s review under Lord Bach. Second, Chris Topping referred to his co-operation with Cllr Corbett about the 10 March event in which the City Council had highlighted access to advice within the scope of addressing - and seeking to alleviate - the symptoms of poverty. Chris took the opportunity to update the Councillors on this coming Autumn’s Pro Bono initiatives and LLS’s particular activities to promote such work.

The recent tragedies in Manchester and London have led to such provision of Pro Bono work by Solicitors. Charlie Jones stressed to the Councillors how Solicitors in areas affected by those events had rapidly and generously offered assistance to survivors and to those bereaved, and hoped that the Councillors would spread that positive message about the profession. John Ballam echoed those comments and referred to the similar role of Wirral Solicitors in respect of the New Ferry gas explosion.

LLS holds its next meeting with a selection of Councillors on 18 January 2018. If any LLS members have ideas or would like to have matters raised with our local Councillors, the LLS would be very happy to hear.  Please email committees@liverpoollawsociety.org.uk

Jeremy Myers
LLS Parliamentary Liaison Officer