Outdated laws join the scrap heap

Eric Pickles' department could hardly be accused of inaction
Eric Pickles' department could hardly be accused of inaction

By Peter Wozniak

A host of outdated local laws are set the join the scrapheap of legislation the coalition government is prepared to eliminate.

The antique legislation could be axed under government proposals to permit English local authorities to abolish by-laws without first getting the green light from ministers in Whitehall.

The plans devolve the responsibility for decision-making to the councils themselves, which have already identified vast numbers of by-laws they claim no longer have any relevance.

Some of the choice examples include Gloucester City Council's law decrying the frying of fish as among a series of activities deemed 'offensive trades'.

Blackpool Borough Council's law from 1887 prohibiting the practice of 'carpet-beating' or the hanging of towels on the promenade would also seem to be a likely candidate for the chop.

Councils will still require approval by local residents before carrying through their raft of abolitions.

Grant Shapps, local government minister, sang the praises of the policy, saying: "Let's get rid of those things, and this government wants to hand the power to do those things to local communities, which surely can't be a bad thing.

"We believe that rather than everything having to revert to Whitehall, 'the minister knows best', instead, local communities should have those powers, and that's what we're going to give them today."

It remains to be seen whether local people will be enthused by the plans, which include abolishing regulations from ninety-seven years ago concerning the use of 'dickey straps' on horse-drawn carriages in what is now the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.


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