- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Councils may soon be able to make local laws without Welsh Ministers’ say so.
The Welsh Government’s new law-making powers are being used for the first time to simplify the making and enforcement of council bye-laws.
On Tuesday (24 April), the National Assembly voted to support the Welsh Government to introduce the Local Government Byelaws Bill. The Bill will remove the need for Welsh ministers to confirm most bye-laws and also introduce fixed penalty notices as an alternative to magistrates’ court action.
With a week to go until local council elections, Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson says the Byelaws Bill is all about boosting local democracy. Speaking in the debate on Tuesday, the former Pembrokeshire County councillor said:
“For the past few weeks, and for another week yet, up and down the country, people have stood in their doorways politely listening to people like us telling them about the importance of local decision making. They have read the leaflets that the dog did not get to first and read that local government is the best place to make local decisions. The bye-laws Bill embodies that principle perfectly.
“The Labour Welsh Government believes that locally elected officials should be able to consult local people and make the majority of bye-laws without undue input or interference from the Welsh ministers.
“As a former member of Pembrokeshire County Council, I can appreciate how this Bill will tidy up the procedures for making and scrutinising bye-laws, stripping away unnecessary bureaucracy and bringing the whole process closer to those whom it affects and benefits.”
If the Bill becomes law as expected, bye-laws governing things such as activities on beaches and skateboarding in public places will be made at a local level only. However, authorities will be expected to consult members of the public before making one and potentially contentious byelaws, such as those relating to sites of special scientific interest and national parks, will remain with ministers.