A dispute over different local authority interpretations of the law has been resolved in the first ever Primary Authority determination. The Business Department’s regulatory delivery directorate, BRDO, has upheld advice from primary authority Newcastle City Council to high street baker Greggs Plc. about provision of toilets in its retail premises.
Since Primary Authority was launched in 2008, BRDO has worked with more than 100 local authorities to find resolutions to differences of view which would otherwise have created unnecessary costs for businesses, whilst ensuring that vital protections are maintained.
This challenge from Kingston upon Hull City Council is the only issue which has reached the dispute resolution process set out by legislation in the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 which established Primary Authority.
Kingston upon Hull City Council had challenged Newcastle City Council’s Primary Authority Advice, insisting that two of Greggs’ retail outlets provide toilets on the premises. The assurance provides certainty for the business about future investment decisions and clarity for all parties, helping to inform regulators and businesses elsewhere.
BRDO case reference PA/HNGD/1
Name of applicant: Kingston Upon Hull City Council
Name of other parties: Newcastle City Council; Greggs PLC
Date of decision: 10th February 2015
Summary: Kingston Upon Hull City Council made an application to BRDO for consent to a reference for determination in connection with advice issued by Newcastle City Council (the “Primary Authority”).
Section 20 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (the “1976 Act”) focuses on the provision of sanitary appliances in certain establishments. The key question in this case was the correct interpretation of section 20 of the 1976 Act, in particular the definition of “relevant place” in section 20(9).
BRDO, having carefully considered all representations and evidence received in relation to this case was satisfied that the Primary Authority Advice issued by Newcastle City Council was “correct” for the purposes of Schedule 4, Paragraph 1(3) of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008) because:
- The advice was soundly based upon the purpose and content of the disputed provision, and represented an informed and professional view of the law;
- It was consistent with relevant case-law; and
- Evidence demonstrated that since June 2011 the advice issued by Newcastle City Council has been accepted by other local authorities as reflecting a reasonable and proportionate interpretation of section 20 of the 1976 Act.
The direction of the Primary Authority was therefore confirmed.