The English ‘Duty to Involve’
What does the new duty to involve require?
The duty requires authorities to take those steps they consider appropriate to involve representatives of local persons in the exercise of any of their functions, where they consider that it is appropriate to do so. It specifies the three ways of involving that need to be covered in this consideration:
· providing information about the exercise of the particular function;
· consulting about the exercise of the particular function; and/or
· involving in another way.
What do we mean by ‘representatives of local persons’?
Within the context of the duty the term ‘local persons’ refers to those likely to be affected by, or interested in, a particular authority function. It should be noted that the term ‘local persons’ is not simply a reference to local residents. It also covers those who work or study in the area (including those who work for the authority); visitors; service users; local third sector groups; businesses; bodies such as parish councils; and anyone else likely to be affected by, or interested in, the function.
The phrase ‘representatives of local persons’ refers to a mix of ‘local persons’, ie a selection of the individuals, groups or organisations the authority considers likely to be affected by, or have an interest in the authority function. In the context of the duty the ‘representative’ does not refer to formally elected or nominated members of the community, such as councillors.
The draft document, which is subject to consultation, provides guidance to local authorities and their partners on creating strong safe and prosperous communities, specifically relating to new legislation introduced in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. The guidance covers, Local Strategic Partnerships, Sustainable Community Strategies, the new duty to involve, Local Area Agreements, the revised best value regime and commissioning.
The closing date for responses is 12 February 2008.