Byelaws in the United Kingdom

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In the United Kingdom, byelaws are laws of local or limited application made by local councils or other bodies, using powers granted by an Act of Parliament, and so are a form of delegated legislation. Some byelaws are made by private companies or charities that exercise public or semi-public functions, such as airport operators, water companies or the National Trust.

At present, because byelaws create criminal offences that can be prosecuted in magistrates' courts, they must be approved by central government before they can come into force. However, there are plans to make offences against byelaws punishable through the use of fixed penalty notices, and to remove the need for local council byelaws to be centrally approved.

Local council byelaws are generally restricted in scope to a particular place, for example a park, or a particular class of activities, such as amusement arcades or the employment of children. Byelaws made by public transport companies are limited to the transport facilities operated by the organisation making the byelaw.

Making of byelaws[edit]

At present, bye-laws are made by the local council or other body, but do not come into force until they have been approved (confirmed) by the relevant government department. After the byelaws have been made, but before they can be confirmed, an advertisement has to be placed in a local newspaper announcing that the byelaws have been made, stating where a copy can be inspected and inviting any objections to be made to the Government department. One month after the byelaws were made, the council (or other organisation) then applies to the Government department for the byelaws to be approved. The government department, at the same time as confirming the byelaws, also sets the date that they will come into force.[1]

Because they only apply to limited areas or facilities, byelaws are generally not made by Statutory Instrument.

Enforcement of byelaws[edit]

Breaches of byelaws are prosecuted in a magistrates' court. The punishment is a fine, the maximum being generally between £500 and £2,500.[2]

Proposed changes to the making and enforcing of byelaws[edit]

In 2006, the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister consulted on changes to how some byelaws are made and approved (confirmed) by central government, and how they are enforced.[3] As a result, the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 included provision for the government to implement alternative arrangements for making byelaws, and for their enforcement through the issue of fixed penalty notices.[4]

A further consultation took place in 2008[5] concerning the specific byelaws to be affected by the changes, and the new procedures for making byelaws and issuing Penalty Notices.

The 2008 consultation document stated that some byelaws would continue to need to be confirmed by the government. These include those byelaws made by private companies (so as to ensure that there is democratic accountability), and those likely to be controversial, for example concerning fisheries.[6]

The power to issue fixed penalties would be granted to police community support officers and also to suitably trained officers appointed by local councils, including parish councils and community councils.[4]

Local council byelaws[edit]

Local councils have powers to make byelaws under various Acts of Parliament. The power to make byelaws "for the good rule and government" of their area, granted by the Local Government Act 1972, appears to be very sweeping, however this power is greatly limited by the restriction that it cannot be used in connection with anything already covered under other legislation.[7]

Other Acts grant powers to make byelaws relating to various aspects of public recreation, the management of markets, controlling the employment of children, ensuring hygiene in certain types of business and behaviour in public libraries.

Following the election of the ConservativeLiberal Democrat Coalition Government in 2010, it has been suggested that councils may be permitted to use byelaws to improve public health, by imposing local minimum prices for alcohol, limiting promotions associated with fast food or making films depicting smoking automatically 18 certificated.[8] In Wales, local council byelaws do not need to be confirmed by central government since the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Act 2012.

Act granting power to make byelaws General description of power Typical matters covered by the byelaws
Section 235, Local Government Act 1972 Good rule and government, and the prevention of nuisances Climbing on bridges, skateboarding, riding on verges, playing games on or near highways, fairground attractions causing obstructions, touting, urinating or defecating in public, interfering with life-saving equipment or road signs.[9]
Section 164, Public Health Act 1875 Regulation of public walks and pleasure grounds Climbing, grazing of animals, camping, fires, throwing of missiles, interference with life-saving equipment, horse-riding, cycling, vehicles, play areas, skateboarding, ball-games and other sports, bathing, ice-skating, fishing, model boats, aircraft and hot air balloons, kites, model aircraft, public performances, excessive noise, metal detectors, offering items for sale and protection of plants.[10]
Sections 12 and 15, Open Spaces Act 1906 Regulation of open spaces and burial grounds (Same list as for section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875)
Section 82, Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 Regulating use of the seashore Fishing, bait digging, horse-riding, games, public performances, fires, parties, aircraft, kites, unauthorised structures, offering items for sale and interference with life-saving equipment, signs or flags[11]
Section 83, Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 Regulating use of promenades Cycling, vehicles, skate-boarding, kites, unauthorised structures, offering items for sale and interference with life-saving equipment, signs or flags.[12]
Section 231, Public Health Act 1936 Regulating public bathing Times and places, use of huts and tents, bathing costumes, life-saving appliances, and use of pleasure boats within areas allotted for public bathing.[13]
Section 76, Public Health Act 1961 Regulating seaside pleasure boats Personal watercraft (including jet-skis) and waterskiing including speed, navigation and noise[14]
Section 185, Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 Regulating hired pleasure boats Numbering and naming, and qualifications and behaviour of boatmen in charge[14]
Section 223, Public Health Act 1936 Regulating public swimming pools [15]
Section 6, Food Act 1984 Regulating markets Opening hours, allocation of pitches, maintaining cleanliness, preventing obstruction, use of water taps, prevention of fires, and ensuring adequate space for penned animals.[16]
Section 75, Public Health Act 1961, as amended by section 22, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Regulating amusement premises and pleasure fairs Opening hours, restricting noise, fire safety and prevention, adequate supervision and excluding drunks and prostitutes.[17]
Section 77. Public Health Act 1961, as amended by section 22, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Regulating hairdressers and barbers Cleanliness of premises, tools and personnel.[18]
Section 198, Public Health Act 1936 Regulating public mortuaries and post-mortem rooms Management and charges for use[19]
Section 19, Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Regulating use of libraries Cleanliness of library users, dogs, disorderly behaviour, sleeping, noise, supervision of children, offering items for sale, eating and drinking, mobile phones, radios.[20]
Part VIII, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 as amended by Local Government Act 2003. and London Local Authorities Act 1991 and the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1981 Hygiene and cleanliness of acupuncture services and businesses providing tattooing, semi-permanent skin-colouring, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis Cleanliness of premises, equipment and operators.[21]
Sections 18 and 20, Children and Young Persons Act 1933 Restrictions on employment of children Ages at which children may be employed, the types of work they may do, hours of work, and street trading.[22]

Countryside byelaws[edit]

Byelaws concerning the behaviour of the public in the countryside are limited to defined areas, and might be made by a local council, a national park authority, or other bodies established by statute specifically to look after a particular area.

Act granting power to make byelaws Byelaw-making body General description of power Typical matters covered by the byelaws
Sections 20, 21(4) and 106 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 Local councils and English Nature / Scottish Natural Heritage / Countryside Council for Wales Local nature reserves Restriction of access; catching, disturbing, injuring or killing animals or eggs, pupae or larvae; damaging plants; introducing any animals, eggs, plants or seeds that may reproduce, hatch, propagate or germinate; grazing; pollution of water; bathing, water-skiing, ice-skating, sailing boats or model boats; obstructing watercourses; vehicles and aircraft; electronic equipment, firearms, kites, model aircraft; fires; camping; shutting of gates.[23]
Sections 20, National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and Section 28R, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 English Nature / Scottish Natural Heritage / Countryside Council for Wales Sites of Special Scientific Interest [24]
Section 17, Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 National park authority or local council Access land Preservation of order, prevention of damage to the land and avoiding interference with the enjoyment of the land by others (generally the same list as for section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875)[25]
Sections 90 and 91, National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 Local councils National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Section 129 to 133, Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 Marine Management Organisation Inshore waters (specifically marine conservation zones) Protecting marine conservation zones[26]
Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938 Countryside
Section 41, Countryside Act 1968 Local councils Country Parks and Picnic Sites Preservation of order, prevention of damage to the land, avoiding interference with the enjoyment of the land by others, regulating sailing on waterways and make charges for the registartion of boats (plus generally the same list as for section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875)
Section 28, Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966 Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Preservation of order, prevention of damage to the land, regulating use of the land and navigation on waterways, control of dogs, and preventing the outbreak or spread of fire within the Lee Valley Park[27]
London (Various Powers) Act 1990
Section 46, Forestry Act 1967 Forestry Commission Forestry Commission lands and plantations Preservation of trees and timber, protection of the land and regulating the reasonable use of the land by the public[28]
Section 25, New Forest Act 1877 and section 9. New Forest Act 1949 Verderers of the New Forest The New Forest [29]
Section 36, Epping Forest Act 1878 Common Council of the City of London as the Epping Forest Conservators Epping Forest [30]
Section 19, Ashdown Forest Act 1974 Ashdown Forest Conservators Ashdown Forest [31]
Section 84, Wimbledon and Putney Common Act 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators Wimbledon and Putney Commons [32]
Section 6, Metropolitan Commons Act 1866 Local councils Commons and town and village greens
Section 15, Commons Act 1876 The majority in value of owners of rights of pasture Common land Prevention of or protection from nuisances or for keeping order on the regulated pasture, and for general management, occupation, and enjoyment of the regulated pasture
Section 10, Commons Act 1899 (as substituted by Commons Act 2006) Local councils Common land Prevention of nuisances and the preservation of order on a Common, including protection of plants and animals, fires, control of dogs, grazing of animals, erection of structures, offering items for sale, use of firearms and throwing of missiles, vehicles, aircraft, horse-riding, bathing, and obstructing or annoying others.
Section 11, Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 Devon County Council as Dartmoor National Park Authority Dartmoor National Park [33]
Section 25, River Cam Conservancy Act 1922 River Cam Conservators River Cam Licensing of vessels, all aspects of navigation, races and regattas, mooring, use of locks, prevention of nuisances, bathing, etc.[34]
Malvern Hills Acts 1884 to 1995 Malvern Hills Conservators Malvern Hills [35]
Sections 12 and 13, Countryside Act 1968 Local councils Facilities provided for the enjoyment of the sea or waterways adjoining a National Park
Section 10(3) and Section 10(5) and paragraph 4 of Schedule 5, Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 The Broads Authority The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads National Park All aspects of navigation including speed; also water-skiing[36]
Section 157, Water Industry Act 1991 Water companies Reservoirs and Water Parks [37]
Schedule 25, Water Resources Act 1991 and section 66, Land Drainage Act 1991 Environment Agency, local councils and internal drainage boards Internal drainage Control of sluices, diversion or stopping up of watercourses, introduction of water to courses, fishing, fires, vegetation, vermin, protection of banks, dredging, navigation of vessels.[38]
Section 5 of the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act 1966 Fisheries Committees Sea Fisheries Restricting or prohibiting fishing for all or any specified kinds of sea fish during any period, methods of fishing, equipment used (including size of mesh), and regulating shellfish and oyster cultivation.[39] Note: This provision is to be repealed on the coming into force of the relevant sections of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009
Sections 155-162 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 Inshore fisheries and conservation authorities Sea Fisheries Prohibiting or restricting exploitation of sea fisheries resources, protection of fisheries for shellfish, monitoring of exploitation of resources, regualting fisheries through the issue of permits, prohibiting or restricting specific vessels, methods orgear[40]
Schedule 25, Water Resources Act 1991 Environment Agency Inland waterways Preservation of order, prevention of damage to the waterway or land, avoiding interference with the enjoyment of the waterway or land by others; boating; pollution; flood defence and drainage; salmon, trout, freshwater and eel fisheries; conservation of the natural beauty or amenity of marine or coastal, or aquatic or waterside, areas, or of any features of archaeological or historic interest, and the conservation of flora or fauna that depend on, or associated with, a marine or coastal, or aquatic or waterside, environment.[41]
National Trust Acts 1907 to 2005 National Trust and National Trust for Scotland National Trust land [42]

Transport byelaws[edit]

A variety of Acts grant powers to make byelaws regulating conduct on public transport. The power to make byelaws is usually granted to the public transport operator, which is sometimes a private company.

Act granting power to make byelaws Byelaw-making body General description of power Typical matters covered by the byelaws
Section 35, Highways Act 1980 Local council (highways authority) Walkways Conduct of the public, closing times, placement of structures.
Section 68, Town Police Clauses Act 1847 Local councils Taxis (hackney carriages) Conduct of drivers and proprietors, and fares[43]
Section 6, Town Police Clauses Act 1889 Local councils Horse drawn omnibuses
Section 219, Transport Act 2000 Strategic Rail Authority National railways [44]
Paragraph 26 of Schedule 11, Greater London Authority Act 1999 Transport for London Transport for London's railways and railway premises Regulating the use, and working of, and travel and behaviour of passengers[45]
Paragraph 27 of Schedule 11, Greater London Authority Act 1999 Transport for London Regulating the use of any landing place vested in or operated by Transport for London.
Section 25, London Transport Act 1969 Transport for London Transport for London's road transport garages, depots, bus stations, shelters, other premises and approaches. Regulating the use and working of, and behaviour of passengers
Section 46, Croydon Tramlink Act 1994 Croydon Tramlink premises and facilities. Regulating the use and working of, and travel and behaviour of passengers

[46]

Section 59, Leeds Supertram Act 1993 Leeds Supertram Regulating behaviour on various local light railways and tramways.
Section 62, Greater Nottingham Light Rapid Transit Act 1994 Regulating behaviour on various local light railways and tramways.
section 67, Transport Act 1962 as amended by section 37, Transport Act 1981 and paragraph 2 of Schedule 4 to London Regional Transport Act 1984
Local Acts and Transport and Works Act Orders Other guided transport systems e.g. tramways and light rapid transit systems
London County Council (Tunnel and Improvements) Act 1938 Blackwall Tunnels and their approaches.
Section 54, Thames Tunnel (Rotherhithe and Ratcliff) Act 1900 Rotherhithe Tunnel
Section 102, County of Merseyside Act 1980 as amended by the Mersey Tunnels Order 1986 Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority Mersey Tunnels [47]
Section 23, Metropolitan Board of Works (Various Powers) Act 1885 Transport for London Woolwich Ferry Regulating the use and working of, and behaviour on, the Ferry
Section 18, Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, and Harbour Revision Orders and local Acts and Orders Harbour authorities, which can be local councils or private companies Ports and harbours Navigation, mooring, handling of goods, road and rail traffic, interference with life-saving equipment, water sports, bathing and diving, fishing, skateboarding[48]
Sections 63 and Schedule 3, Airports Act 1986 Airport operators, who can be public bodies or private companies Airports Safety of aircraft, vehicles and people, controlling operation of aircraft, controlling vehicles not on public roads including regulating speed and parking, regulating taxis, restricting access to parts of the airport, preserving order, and safe custody of lost property.[49]
British Transport Commission Act 1954, British Waterways Acts 1971 and 1975 British Waterways Canals Licensing of vessels, all aspects of navigation, mooring, use of locks, prevention of nuisances, bathing, etc.[50]

Military lands byelaws[edit]

The Secretary of State for Defence has powers under section 14 of the Military Lands Act 1892 to make byelaws regulating access to Ministry of Defence lands, including their use by the public for recreation. The Ministry of Defence is currently[when?] reviewing all of its byelaws.[51] Unlike most other byelaws, military lands byelaws are made by Statutory Instrument.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Section 236, Local Government Act 1972. Others enabling Acts provide that the same procedure applies to byelaws made by other bodies, or establish similar procedures.
  2. ^ Levels 2 and 4 on the standard scale as set out in section 37(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 – the exact level depends on the type of byelaw
  3. ^ Local Authority Byelaws in England: A Discussion Paper, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, April 2006
  4. ^ a b Part 6 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
  5. ^ Communities in control: real people, real power – The making and enforcement of byelaws, Department for Communities and Local Government, August 2008
  6. ^ 2008 consultation, para 2.15
  7. ^ Section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972
  8. ^ "What can councils use by-laws for?". BBC News. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (2013-02-08). "Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 8". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  10. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (2013-02-08). "Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 2". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  11. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (2013-02-08). "Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 6". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  12. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (2013-02-08). "Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 5". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  13. ^ Section 231 of the Public Health Act 1936, as amended, from the UK Statute Law Database.
  14. ^ a b Maritime and Coastguard Agency model
  15. ^ Example: Newcastle City Council swimming pool byelaws
  16. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government (2013-02-08). "Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 10". Communities.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  17. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government model byelaw number 3 and number 4
  18. ^ Example: Reading Borough Council byelaws for operating as a Hairdresser or Barber
  19. ^ "West Sussex Council mortuary byelaws" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  20. ^ Department for Culture, Media & Sport. "Department for Culture, Media and Sport model library byelaws". Culture.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  21. ^ Department of Health model byelaws[dead link]
  22. ^ Department for Children, Schools and Families Guidance
  23. ^ A guide to making Local Nature Reserve Byelaws, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, October 2008
  24. ^ Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Encouraging positive partnerships Code of Guidance, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2003, para 59
  25. ^ Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guidance and model byelaws[dead link]
  26. ^ "Marine Management Organisation - Nature Conservation Byelaws". Marinemanagement.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  27. ^ "Byelaws". Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  28. ^ "Forestry Commission Byelaws" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  29. ^ Graham Cooper. "Byelaws of the Verderers of the New Forest". Verderers.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  30. ^ "Epping Forest Bye-laws". Corporate of the City of London. 1986. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  31. ^ Ashdown Forest Byelaws[dead link]
  32. ^ "Wimbledon and Putney Commons Byelaws". Wpcc.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  33. ^ Dartmoor Byelaws, Dartmoor National Park Authority
  34. ^ Byelaws of the River Cam, River Cam Conservators
  35. ^ Malvern Hills Byelaws, Malvern Hills Conservators
  36. ^ Example: Broads Authority byelaws
  37. ^ Example: Yorkshire Water Byelaws
  38. ^ Example: Somerset Drainage Boards byelaws
  39. ^ Example: Isles of Scilly Sea Fisheries Committee byelaws
  40. ^ "Sections 155-162 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  41. ^ Environment Agency byelaws[dead link]
  42. ^ National Trust Byelaws and National Trust for Scotland byelaws for the Island of St Kilda
  43. ^ Example: North Somerset Council Hackney Carriage Byelaws
  44. ^ "Railway Byelaws". Dft.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  45. ^ London Regional Transport Byelaws, Transport for London
  46. ^ Croydon Tramlink Byelaws, Transport for London
  47. ^ "Mersey Tunnels Byelaws" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  48. ^ Example: Gloucester Harbour Byelaws
  49. ^ Example: London Luton Airport Byelaws
  50. ^ British Waterways Byelaws[dead link]
  51. ^ "Ministry of Defence Byelaws website". Defence-estates.mod.uk. 2009-11-06. Retrieved 2013-10-06.