Local Government Reform Act 2014
Consultation with local community
46. The Principal Act is amended by substituting the following for section 127:
“127. (1) A local authority may take such steps as it considers appropriate to consult with and promote effective participation by the local community in local government.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) a local authority may—
(a) undertake such action under section 64 as the authority may consider appropriate,
(b) establish strategic policy committees in accordance with Part 7,
(c) consult with local sectoral, community or other groups,
(d) arrange for the representation on relevant committees of the authority of persons having knowledge or experience of relevance to the work of the particular committee,
(e) consult with a recognised association under section 128,
(f) make arrangements for attendance and raising of issues by interested persons at meetings of the authority or of any of its committees in accordance with such rules as may be determined by resolution of the authority,
(g) arrange for the holding of information meetings and the dissemination of information to the public in relation to any matter connected with its functions.
(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) each local authority shall, in accordance with regulations made under subsection (6) and general guidelines issued under subsection (7), adopt a document to be known as a Framework for Public Participation in Local Government (in this section referred to as the ‘Framework’) for the purposes of promoting, developing and implementing a coherent and integrated approach to participation in decision-making processes of the local authority by the local community.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3), the Framework shall seek to provide for participation by the local community within municipal districts and shall include the following:
(a) participatory mechanisms to promote, support and facilitate the local community’s input into decision making by the local authority, without prejudice to any consultation procedures provided for in any enactment;
(b) clear and transparent mechanisms for the selection of members of the local community to participate in such participatory mechanisms including selection processes that seek to balance gender, geography, social inclusion, sectoral, age and other interests and factors;
(c) mechanisms to monitor, measure and evaluate participation by members of the local community with local government and to provide information to the local community arising from such monitoring, measurement and evaluation;
(d) mechanisms to provide for accountability of such participants to the local community;
(e) mechanisms for the provision of information by the local authority to the local community.
(5) In developing the Framework, a local authority may take such steps as it considers appropriate to consult with the local community, including local sectoral, community or other groups.
(6)(a) The Minister may make regulations relating to the adoption and establishment of a Framework by each local authority and its implementation, review and revision by the local authority concerned.
(b) Regulations under this subsection may be made in respect of local authorities generally or in respect of any particular class or classes of local authorities as determined by those regulations.
(7)(a) The Minister may issue general policy guidelines to local authorities for the purposes of any provision of this section (including any regulations made under subsection (6)) and each local authority shall comply with any such guidelines that relate to it.
(b) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (a), guidelines under this section may provide for any of the following:
(i) assistance to the local community with the preparation of strategies within municipal districts for the well-being of all;
(ii) provision of opportunities for networking, communication and the sharing of information with the local community;
(iii) mechanisms to support inclusion of socially excluded groups;
(iv) developing capacity and supports for public engagement and participation;
(v) participatory mechanisms;
(vi) consultation procedures and processes;
(vii) mechanisms for the provision of information;
(viii) accountability mechanisms.
(8) (a) Where in relation to any function of a local authority under this or under any other enactment the relevant enactment requires the publication of a notice in a newspaper or on the local authority’s website and the invitation of submissions or observations in connection with the performance of that function, the local authority may take such additional steps as it may consider appropriate to publicise, facilitate or promote the consultation process including the use of other forms of communications, including local radio stations, and the use of electronic forms of communication.
(b) A local authority may, in respect of reports, plans or any other material in relation to the performance of its functions, arrange for the making available or display of such materials at suitable locations (which locations may include the internet) additional to those required by this or any other enactment.
(9) An elected council may, by resolution, require that specified action be taken in accordance with this section for the purpose of consultation with the local community.
(10) Nothing in this section shall be read as limiting or departing from the role of a local authority as an elected body.
(11) The procedures and actions provided for under this section to promote and facilitate public engagement under the Framework may supplement but shall not be read as limiting or restricting—
(a) any consultation procedures, or
(b) any procedures requiring consultation,
that are otherwise provided for under any enactment and any actions taken under the Framework, or any failure to take any specified action under the Framework, shall not affect any such consultation procedures or procedures.
(12) The adoption of the Framework to promote and facilitate participation by the local community under this section is a reserved function.”.