Public sector expert publishes advice

Cyril Dixon reports

A LEADING team of public sector law consultants has published a report outlining key recommendations for councils involved in the launch of local authority companies.

Leonie Cowen & Associates' 25-page document, Local Authority Companies: Key Steps for Success, aims to highlight the main legal issues for councils and methods of tackling them.

The consultancy is run by Leonie Cowen, a former high ranking legal officer with Barnet then Camden councils, and a member of the Local Government Residuary Body.

"There are a large number of administrative and legal features which are common to a wide range of such projects," the paper says.

Among the critical areas of local government law which the report considers are:

The powers of authorities to form and participate in a company venture

Constraints on ownership;

The district auditors' interests in the venture;

Laws governing contracts for the new venture;

Employment law;

The disposal of land and other assets

The paper concludes: "Successful projects are achievable provided that the local authority and the company's advisers fully recognise the legal and financial duties."

"Many of the well-publicised failures came to court because the projects were commercially flawed from the start."

For a copy of the paper contact Leonie Cowen & Associates at 30 Kingswood Avenue, Queens Park, London NW6 6LR.