Are national events and celebrations being affected?
Many local councils were planning to get involved in national events and celebrations such as Great British Spring Clean and VE Day 75, these have been postponed.
In the meantime Keep Britain Tidy have launched their #LoveWhereYouLive campaign, as in the current climate a lot of activities that communities do are not possible, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still love where we live.
The national commemorations to mark VE Day 75 on 8 May are being scaled back and the government is working on new plans to ensure the nation can still thank the Second World War generation on VE Day in May and provide the fitting tribute they deserve. Local councils are instead being encouraged to support local digital solutions for celebrations. Once this immediate crisis abates, communities may also be encouraged to turn their attention to planning for VJ day on 15 August. The Great British Spring Clean has also decided to postpone its annual event and relaunch later in the year, with the postponed campaign hoping to take place between 11 and 27 September 2020. For these and other events, local councils should check the relevant event website for the latest information and updates.
Coronavirus and cybersecurity
The National Centre for Cyber Security has launched a campaign geared towards the public during COVID-19 times. This includes useful best practice we can all be following at work, but also it is useful information to share with residents.
Two of NALC’s partners have also provided advice for local councils on cybersecurity:
CiLCA deadlines pushed back
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, all CiLCA candidates who are currently registered will be granted an additional three months to complete their portfolio. This extension will be automatically granted for all candidates and you will not need to contact the CiLCA administrator. This automatic extension will be reviewed at the end of June. In the meantime, all registered candidates who have attended relevant training should continue to submit work when it has been completed to an appropriate standard. New candidates are reminded that they should not register for CiLCA until they have a training programme in place.
Data protection and GDPR
On 12 March the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) released a statement to reassure organisations seeking to support their communities at this time. It includes this information:
"Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop Government, the NHS or any other health professionals from sending public health messages to people, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing. Nor does it stop them using the latest technology to facilitate safe and speedy consultations and diagnoses. Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.
The ICO is a reasonable and pragmatic regulator, one that does not operate in isolation from matters of serious public concern. Regarding compliance with data protection, we will take into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency.”
To support this statement the ICO has also produced further guidance around data protection and coronavirus.
Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published guidance on applying for the coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund on 29 May. Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme. The guidance advises those interested in the fund to visit their local council’s website to find out how to apply.
Local death management powers
The government has produced statutory guidance issued under s.58 and Schedule 28 to the Coronavirus Act 2020. The 2020 Act introduced new powers for local authorities and government to support the resilience of local death management systems, and step in if they become overwhelmed.
Parish councils are excluded from the definition of the local authority for the purposes of s.58 and Schedule 12 to the 2020 Act. Their role as burial authorities is recognised. Essentially the role of parish councils under the 2020 Act is one of co-operation should they choose to do so:
- The powers in Part 1 of Schedule 28 enable local authorities to require persons and national authorities to provide information to assist those authorities to ascertain the capacity to deal with transportation, storage or disposal of dead bodies and other human remains in a particular area or nationally. The guidance on Part 1 confirms that parish councils “are not included in the definition of what constitutes an English local authority. However, as parish councils are often burial and/or cremation authorities, they may cooperate with local authorities to ensure appropriate death management occurs”.
- Part 2 of Schedule 28 gives powers of direction to local and national authorities in order for them to manage capacity in the death management system. The guidance on Part 2 provides that parish councils “are not included in the definition of what constitutes an English local authority. However, as parish councils are often burial and/or cremation authorities, they may cooperate with local authorities to ensure appropriate death
The government has provided guidance where the coronavirus situation impacts on neighbourhood planning including the referendum process, decision-making, oral representations for examinations, and public consultation — find it by scrolling to the very bottom of the neighbourhood planning guidance.