Executive Functions

March 3rd, 2020

The decision of Swift J in Williams v Caerphilly Council, noted in this Bulletin on 29 June 2019, has been upheld by the Court of Appeal: (2020) EWCA (Civ 296).  Cabinet had the power to adopt a Sports and Recreation Strategy. This was not a decision that had to be taken by Full Council. The default position applied. A distinction is to be drawn between approval of a plan and its implementation. The adoption of the 10 year Strategy was not concerned with the Council’s annual budget or its capital expenditure plan. Future closure and other decisions would be distinct matters that would need to be considered on their own merits.  There was nothing in the Strategy to say that the closure of any existing facility would inevitably happen, let alone that it would happen in the then current financial year.

A Wednesbury rationality challenge also failed.  At the stage of adopting the Strategy, it was not irrational not to have regard to implementation costs. The Strategy set out broad policy objectives. Detailed financial information would be provided when implementation decisions came to be made.

The final ground of appeal, which also failed, concerned the Welsh equivalent of best value. This “operates at a fairly high level,” but that did not mean that the 2009 Welsh Measure, and its improvement arrangements, duty and consultation obligations, applied to the generality of local authority decisions or to the adoption of the Strategy.  It did not.

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