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Localism Bill imposes 'unfair' EU fines on local authorities

17 December 2010

The newly proposed Localism Bill contains in it a general power for the Secretary of State to order councils to contribute to the UK’s obligation to pay an EU fine, if an act or omission of the council can be shown to have contributed to the fine being imposed.

The EU Treaty clearly specifies that fines are attributable to the member state. This measure would allow the government to fine councils, extra-judicially by executive action, in order to raise money to pay fines legally imposed on the government.

Firstly, can such a measure be introduced without any consultation whatsoever? Secondly, how on earth will it be possible to fairly calculate any liability between the countries of the UK let alone the councils in England?

The current proposals seem unfair, difficult to administer and potentially very burdensome on local authorities. It might be better looking at how local and central government can work together to ensure the UK isn’t fined in the first place instead.

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