Purpose and Priorities
This BIP sets out the main actions that Legal & Democratic Services intends to carry out over the period of 2023 to 2026 to deliver core priorities and the related objectives of the Local Outcome Improvement Plan and the Strategic Planning & Performance Framework.
Legal & Democratic Services provides support to all services in the Council in relation to the Governance of the Council; Decision making & Elected Members; the administration of Elections; Civil Contingencies and Resilience; the Legal Interests of the Council; and Information Management including Records Management, Data Protection and Freedom of Information. In carrying out these services, Legal & Democratic Services aims to meet statutory obligations, current best practice, and provide a responsive and quality service to our internal customers and external stakeholders. The Strategic Grouping contributes to the Corporate Governance of the Council through the Statutory Roles of the Monitoring Officer and the Service’s focus on supporting and strengthening controls and monitoring legislative compliance.
For the period 2023-26 the Strategic Group has identified the following Strategic Priorities;
- Ensuring that the Council’s Governance arrangements and mechanisms remain up to date and structure the Council’s relationships with partners.
- Ensuring continued compliance with the Council’s Governance Structures
- Ensuring that the Council’s decision making arrangements continue to be robust and meet the required governance standards of a modern local authority
- Ensuring that the Council’s Civil Contingencies arrangements are up to date and continue to meet its responsibilities as a Category 1 Responder in relation to national, regional and local events in association with our strategic partners.
- Ensuring the best representation of the Council Legal Interests – including all aspects of contracts, planning & conveyancing, litigation & licensing, supporting the governance and decision-making functions of the Council and providing advice and guidance to all Council services.
Ensuring that the Council complies with best practice in relation to all aspects of Records Management including Freedom of Information, Data Protection matters, GDPR and all aspects of Information Management incorporated in the Council’s Records Management Plan
Work of the Teams
The Corporate Governance Service provides Democratic Services, Technical Support for Registration Services, Elected Members Support and CMT Support services on an on-going basis, Civil Contingencies and Corporate Information and Records Management services to the prescribed standard across all areas. In addition, Democratic Services deliver the successful management of all electoral events in East Dunbartonshire and regularly reviews the alignment of polling districts to constituency and ward boundaries as required by the Boundary Commission for Scotland and Local Government Boundary Commission. The work of the team contributes to the delivery of the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP), ensuring that the Council has appropriate systems and controls through which it seeks to deliver its Vision and Local Outcomes. Specific activities in support of the overall objectives include:
- Management and administration of the Council’s decision-making bodies
- Election Management, Planning & Delivery
- Provision of direction and technical support to the Council’s Registration Function
- Development of corporate and strategic Civil Contingency Plans and arrangements with partners at national, regional and local resilience levels
- Civil contingencies – Strategic and operational multi-agency framework for responding to, and recovering from, emergencies in the UK.
- Information & Records Management
- Records Management Plan and Publication Schemes
- FOI, Data Protection & GDPR management
- Efficient and cost effective Mail Services
- Central Print Functions
The Legal Services Team provides legal support to the Council and its various decision making bodies; provides key professional support services incorporating projects and procurements, contracts, conveyancing and land matters, supporting the Council’s City Region Deal projects, general advice on statutory functions including planning, community protection, social work and education, regulatory matters including liquor and civic government licensing, and litigation conducted in courts and tribunals. Legal Services delivers advice in relation to liquor and civic government licensing and supports the Licensing Board and Civic Government Appeals Board. The Service provides legal advice in relation to the Council’s compliance with freedom of information, data protection and related information management legislation and undertakes formal reviews of FOI requests as required. The Team also advises in relation to compliance with human rights and equality. Further, it provides advice and support across the Council and its decision-making bodies on issues of vires and legal compliance in general.
Specific activities in support of the overall objectives include:
- ensuring that the Council acts at all times within its statutory and common law duties and powers;
- enabling other Council services to deliver their priorities by providing timeous and appropriate legal advice and support;
- enabling the Council to protect vulnerable individuals;
- enabling key projects and strategies including major transformational projects by the provision of appropriate advice in relation to governance and legal matters;
- ensuring all opportunities for the Council’s growth and functionality can be realised;
- identifying key savings and revenue for the Council within legal limits;
- securing capital receipts and revenue income to assist with the maintenance of the Council’s revenue and the development of the local economy.
- assisting with improving the safety of East Dunbartonshire with regulatory work including licensing.
- assisting with ensuring that the Council complies with Best Value requirements.
Key Improvement Actions for 2023-2024
- Information Records Management Strategy – development of effective and robust records management practices to reflect changing work patterns and locations.
- Information Records Management – FOI Toolkit – continued development to ensure consistent, effective and efficient response to FOI Data Protection Enquiries.
- Self Service Arrangements – identify opportunities for the introduction of arrangements to improve efficiency.
- External Legal Services Framework – putting in place a framework to ensure that the Council has access as required to expert, cost effective and comprehensive legal support.
- Case Management System – procuring a case management system to boost efficiency.
- Digital Transformation/IT Skills Development for Elected Members – various up-skilling to assist Digital Transformation and increase efficiency.