Reserved Functions of Local Authorities

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The reserved functions of a local authority (those performed by the elected members by resolution) comprise decisions on all major matters, for example:

  • adopting the annual estimate of expenses and striking the rate; borrowing money; 
  • making or varying a development plan; making, amending or revoking bye-laws; 
  • nominating persons to act on committees or other public bodies; demanding expenses from any other local authority;
  • the adoption of house-building programmes; adopting a scheme of letting priorities.   

The principal statement of the reserved functions of local authorities is contained in the County Management Act, 1940 and the corresponding City Management Acts. Many reserved functions, however, have also been created by later enactments. Under section 41 of the Local Government Act, 1991, the Minister for the Environment is empowered by order to add to the list of reserved functions. The principal reserved functions in each of the eight local authority functional programme groups and those of a financial or general nature are as follows: 

Housing and Building
  • making an agreement with another housing authority to perform a function in the latter's functional area (section 109, Housing Act, 1966); 
  • assisting another housing authority or certain approved bodies concerned with providing housing (section 5, housing Act, 1988); 
  • adoption of a report on housing requirements (section 8, Housing Act, 1988); 
  • making or amending a scheme of letting priorities or making a determination to set aside dwellings for certain categories of housing need (section 11, Housing Act, 1988); 

Road Transportation and Safety 
  • applying for a bridge order (section 44, Local Government Act, 1946) giving of consent by a road authority to the application to them of a bridge order (section 48, Local Government Act, 1946);
  • adopting a scheme for the construction, improvement, alteration, maintenance or abandonment of a cross-border bridge (section 41, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • making an agreement with the Commissioners for Public Works to transfer responsibility for a canal bridge, to a road authority (section 16, Canals Act, 1986); 
  • making a toll scheme (section 3, Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979); 
  • making an agreement with another person regarding the financing, construction and operation of toll roads (section 9, Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979); 
  • making an agency agreement with another road authority in relation to a toll road (section 10, Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979); 
  • declaration that a road shall be a public road (section 2, Local Government Act, 1953); 
  • extinguishing a public right of way over a road no longer required for public use (section 84, Local Government Act, 1946); making representations to the Minister to revoke or amend an order made by him closing particular roads to vehicles (section 94, Road Traffic Act, 1961); 
  • determining the number of new public hire vehicle licences which may be granted by the Garda Commissioner (Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Licensing) Regulations, 1978); 
  • making representations to the Garda Commissioner and the Minister in regard to bye-laws which, subject to consultation with the local authority and the approval of the Minister, the Commissioner proposes to make (section 6, Road Traffic Act, 1961); 
  • making a decision regarding provision of ramps or bollards on a public road (section 101A Road Traffic Act, 1961). 

Water Supply and Sewerage 

  • formulating a proposal to take a supply of water from a source of water (section 2, Water Supplies Act, 1942). 
Development Incentives and Controls 
  • making or varying a development plan (section 19, Local Govt. (Planning and Development) Act, 1963); 
  • applying to the Minister for the Environment for an extension of the period for reviewing the development plan (section 19, 1963 Act); 
  • making a special amenity area order (section 42,1963 Act as amended by section 40(a) of the Local Government (Planning and Development Act,) 1976; 
  • requiring the granting of a permission which would contravene materially the development plan or any special amenity area order (section 26(3),1963 Act, as amended by section 39(d) of the 1976 Act and section 45, Local Government Act, 1991); 
  • revoking or modifying a permission to develop land (section 30,1963 Act, as amended by section 39 of the 1976 Act); 
  • making an agreement between two or more planning authorities to share the cost of performing functions under the Act (Section 16, 1963 Act); 
  • assisting local development associations, and other bodies (section 14,1963 Act); 
  • assisting a body or person in the preservation or development of amenities (including the preservation of buildings, sites of artistic, architectural, historical interest, etc.) (section 14 of the 1963 Act); 
  • assisting, by grant of money, any person or body proposing to plant trees, shrubs or other plants (section 50,1963 Act); 
  • contributing to the funds of any body which provides for training and research in town and regional planning (section 15,1963 Act); 
  • granting a rates remission on new industrial premises provided or assisted by the Industrial Development Authority (section 5, Industrial Development Act, 1986) Environmental Protection 
  • making, revising or replacing a water quality management plan (section 15 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, as amended by section 11 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act, 1990); 
  • financial contributions towards research, surveys or investigations connected with air pollution (section 18 of the Air Pollution Act, 1987); 
  • declaring certain areas to be special control areas (section 39 of the Air Pollution Act, 1987); 
  • making air quality management plans (section 46 of the Air Pollution Act, 1987); 
  • making of bye-laws relating to the control of dogs (section 17, Control of Dogs Act, 1986); 
  • making of an agreement between fire authorities, or between a fire authority and any body or person, for the provision of fire and emergency services (section 10, Fire Services Act, 1981); 
  • making and revision of plans for fire and emergency operations (section 26, Fire Services Act, 1981). 
Recreation and Amenity
  • declaration by a county council or county borough corporation that a body established by the inhabitants of a locality shall be an approved local council and the granting of assistance to such an approved local council (Part VIII, Local Government Act, 1941 and Part V, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • contributing to the funds of a society, club, committee or other body providing swimming facilities (section 55, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • assisting financially, or by the provision of services and facilities, the Arts Council or any person concerned with promoting public interest in the arts (section 12, Arts Act, 1973); 
  • assistance by a county council or county borough corporation to a society, committee or other body 
  • providing a local museum (section 57, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • providing (including the acquisition of land by agreement) or assisting to provide a concert hall, theatre or opera house in a county borough (section 1, Local Government Act, 1960); 
  • making of bye-law in respect of National Monuments (section 9, National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1987); 
  • making an agreement with another body or person as to the use and disposal of a theatre, concert hall or opera house provided with the assistance of the corporation of a county borough (section 1, Local Government Act, 1960); 
  • authorising, in any urban area, expenditure by the urban authority on decorating the town for occasions of public rejoicing and other appropriate occasions (section 56, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • making an order prohibiting the erection or retention of temporary dwellings or revoking such an order (section 31, Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act, 1948). 
Agriculture, Education, Health and Welfare 
  • appointing persons to serve as members of harbour authorities, health boards, vocational education committees and certain other bodies (Harbours Act, 1946, Health Act, 1970, Vocational Education Act, 1930, etc); 
  • preparing and submitting schemes for higher education grants to the Minister for Education and submitting amendments to such schemes (section 5, Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Act, 1968); 
  • applying a school meals scheme to a school which lies outside the authority's functional area (section 274, Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981); 
  • arranging for performance of suitable local authority functions by a health board (section 25, Health Act, 1970). 

Miscellaneous Services 
  • authorising the disposal of land owned by a local authority whether corporate or non-corporate (section 140, Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act, 1840 or section 83, Local Government Act, 1946); 
  • making a polling scheme (section 22, Electoral Act, 1963); deciding to issue polling cards for a local election (section 83, Electoral Act, 1963); 
  • nominating a person to be a candidate at an election for the office of President of Ireland (section 9, Presidential Elections Act, 1937); 
  • fixing or altering the dates for holding fairs (section 10, Local Government Board (Ireland) Act, 1872). 

Financial Functions 
  • adopting the annual estimate of expenses and striking the rate (section 10, City and County Management (Amendment) Act, 1955); 
  • deciding whether or not to levy service charges and the amount of any charge (Local Government (Financial Provisions) (No.2) Act, 1983;
  • borrowing money (section 4, Local Government (No.2) Act, 1960);
  • lending money to another local authority (section 5, Local Government (No. 2) Act, 1960); 
  • -demanding certain expenses of a county council from another authority (section 16, County Management Act, 1940); 
  • deciding on allowance for chairman of a local authority (section 42, Local Government Act, 1991); 
  • deciding to incur expenditure on receptions for distinguished persons, etc., (section 46,1991 Act). 
Other Reserved Functions
  • applying to the Minister for the Environment to make an order to reduce the status of a town (section 74, Local Government Act, 1925);
  • making an application, an order or an inquiry in relation to the alteration of local authority boundaries (section 10, Local Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1936;
  • making of a request to the Taoiseach to declare the records or documents of the authority to be 
  • Departmental records for the purposes of the National Archives Act, 1986 (section 13, National Archives Act, 1986); 
  • making or revoking an order or passing or rescinding a resolution by virtue of which an adoptive enactment is brought into force in all or part of a local authority area (section 16, County Management Act, 1940); making, amending or revoking a bye-law (section 16, County Management Act, 1940); 
  • entering into an agreement with another local authority or another statutory body for the discharge by the local authority initiating the agreement of functions of the other local authority or statutory body (section 59, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • deciding to promote or oppose legislation; to prosecute or defend legal proceedings (Borough Funds (Ireland) Act, 1888); deciding to confer a civic honour (section 48, Local Government Act, 1991); 
  • establishing etc., a local authority committee or joint committee (Part VI, 1991 Act); making (or revoking) certain decisions in relation to the travelling expenses of members (section 67, Local Government Act, 1946 as amended by section 67, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • authorising a person to attend any conference or meeting of members of local authorities held for the purpose of discussing any matter connected with the duties which devolve on them (County Management (Reserved Functions) Order, 1948); 
  • adopting a relevant list of ratepayers and changing the name of a street or locality (section 78 and 79, Local Government Act, 1946 as amended by section 53, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • adopting a relevant list of ratepayers and applying to the Government for an order changing the name of an urban district, town or townland (sections 76 and 77, Local Government Act, 1946 as amended by section 53, Local Government Act, 1955); 
  • deciding in relation to the representation of the views of the local community (section 5,1991 Act); 
  • decisions under section 6 of the 1991 Act (general competence of local authorities); deciding to enter into twinning arrangements (section 49, 1991 Act); adoption of annual report (section 50, 1991 Act).

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