The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Local authorities are statutory corporations, created by Parliament as single legal entities, as described in Hazell v Hammersmith and Fulham:
‘local authority, although democratically elected and representative of the area, is not a sovereign body and can only do such things as are expressly or impliedly authorised by Parliament.’
When making a decision, each relevant statutory provisions and more general rules about corporations and public authorities need to be considered. Every local authority must, therefore, have statutory authority for all its actions. For further reading on relevant considerations, see Practice Note: Key considerations in local authority decision making.
Section 1 of the Localism Act 2011 (LA 2011) sets out the Local authority’s general power of competence. The Competence Power gives specified English local authorities (which includes an English county or district council, as per LA 2011, s 8) the power to do anything that individuals, generally of full capacity, may do. The measure confers power to perform the activity in question:
anywhere in the UK or elsewhere
for a commercial purpose or otherwise, for a charge or without charge
for or otherwise than for the benefit of the
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