Threat of statutory duty removal

Rubbish could litter our streets, bodies could pile up, vulnerable children could be left without care, strip clubs could be set up on any corner, and mouldy chops could stack up on our shelves. These are just some of the damaging things that could happen if the Tory government presses ahead with plans to cut the duties on councils that protect us all, and give us better communities.

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today publishes a list of crazy cuts that could leave communities exposed. In its submission to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) consultation on statutory duties, UNISON is calling on the government to protect our communities by putting a stop to its damaging plans.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government, said:

“The coalition has made some pretty crazy and dangerous decisions, but even thinking about getting rid of some of these duties is up there with the best of them.

If the Tories press ahead with their race to scrap the so-called ‘red tape’, they could see bodies pile up on the street, as nobody has responsibility for mortuaries. We could see gas safety fall and recycling schemes dry up. Unregulated taxis could prowl the streets and strip clubs set up on any corner.

Eric Pickles only needs to scratch the surface to find out that these duties protect our communities, making them safer and better places to live. Like a lot of other Tory plans, this consultation should go on the scrapheap.”

Crazy cuts rundown

Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/1629)

Local Authorities are responsible for keeping gas safe. How many people will be put at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if this is abolished?

Fire and Rescue Service Act 2004 Section 7

Makes provision for the purpose of extinguishing fires and protecting life and property. Who else should do this?

Fire and Rescue Service Act 2004 Section 8

Makes provision for the purpose of rescuing people in the event of road traffic accidents.

Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (England) (Order) 2007 (SI 2007/735) made under s. 9 FRSA 2004

Makes provision for chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergency and urban search and rescue. Who will the public turn to if this duty is removed?

Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 7

Local Authorities have a duty to provide a library service. Will libraries be cut to extinction if this is abolished?

Gambling Act 2005 Section 159

Councils have to licence premises for gambling activities. How would corrupt operators be stopped if this was abolished?

Licensing Act 2003 Section 18

Requires local authorities to have a system for regulating premises licenses, including issuing licenses. Would we see strip clubs set up on any corner?

Zoo Licensing Act 1981

Councils should ensure zoos are safe for the public to visit and have a high standard of welfare for animals. What cruel and bad practices would come into place with unregulated zoos?

Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 45 A

Councils have to arrange for the collection of recyclable materials. Is our care for the planet going to be dumped?

Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 89

Councils currently have to keep land and highways clear of litter. Would litter start to pile up on our streets?

Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (S.I. 1996/1499)

Councils are responsible for ensuring food labelling is accurate and out of date food is not being sold. Do we want to eat old sausages or have ingredients missed off the label?

Public Health Act 1936

Councils have to provide mortuaries. Would removing this duty see bodies pile up in the street?

Children Act 1989 Section 33

Councils take vulnerable children into care and look after them. Who would take over this role if this duty was scrapped?

Local Government (Misc. Provisions) Act 1976 Section 54

Councils licence taxi drivers. If they stopped doing this, how dangerous would it be to get into a cab?

Highways Act 1980 Section 41(1A)

Puts local Authorities responsible for dealing with snow and ice – who else could take this up?

New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 Section 81

Councils have to tell other bodies when they (or a utility company) are digging up the road. Without this, would we see roads in constant upheaval?

Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (as amended) Section 5 (1)

Makes local authorities one of the authorities responsible for formulating and implementing strategies to tackle crime and disorder. Who else can create a joined-up approach?

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004) Section 9

Requires local authorities to participate in domestic homicide reviews with a view to improving policies and practice and preventing further violence and homicide. Tackling domestic violence requires a multi-agency approach – should this be optional?

Juries Act 1974 Section 3

Requires electoral registration officers to provide the Lord Chancellor with copies of the electoral register from which potential jurors can be summoned. A vital cog in the wheel of justice.

Crime and Disorder Act 1989 Section 39 (5)

Establishes the multi-agency, multi-disciplinary ethos behind the Youth Offending Teams. Putting into practice decades of experience.

Criminal Justice Act 2003 Section 325

Requires agencies to work together to manage the risks posed by offenders following their release from custody, for example to ensure that paedophiles aren’t inadvertently housed by the local authority near a school, or in an estate with many families. It is necessary to have one body – the locally accountable one – ensuring that this coordination happens – it can’t be optional.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Councils have to disclose information to the public on request. Do we want a culture of secrecy from the people we elect?



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