The General Power of Competence
Local Councils in England were given The General Power of Competence (GPC) in the Localism Act 2011, Sections 1-8. This means that Councils, once adopted the power, no longer need to ask whether they have a specific power to act.
The General Power of Competence Localism Act 2011 S1 (1) gives Local Authorities including … local councils “the power to do anything that individuals generally may do as long as they do not break any other laws”. It is a power of first resort. This means that when searching for a power to act, the first question to ask is whether you can use the General Power of Competence. To find the answer, you ask whether an individual is normally permitted to act in the same way.
Sometimes a Council can do things that an individual can’t do such as creating bylaws, raising a precept or issuing fixed penalty notices but it must do so using the specific original legislation. The General Power of Competence does not mean the Council can delegate decisions to individual Councillors. This is a procedural matter that remains enshrined in law.
Ellesmere Town Council adopted the General Power of Competence for the first time at their Annual Town Council meeting on Wednesday, 10th May, 2017.
Ellesmere Town Council met the criteria for eligibility:
- Number of Councillors elected at the last ordinary election, or at a subsequent by-election, equals or exceeds two thirds of its total number of Councillors (8).
- The Town Clerk held at least one of the sector specific qualifications – Certificate in Local council Administration and has passed CILCA Unit 7 General Power of Competence – 12th June, 2013.