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An enforcement notice issued by a council in Bedfordshire has been declared a nullity because it had the wrong signature (DCS Number 400-013-893).

The enforcement notice was signed by the council’s Principal Solicitor, the inspector recorded. The appellant had provided an extract of the council’s Constitution. The inspector noted that there was a general scheme of delegation to Directors and the Chief Executive, and a specific scheme of delegation authorising particular post-holders to undertake specific functions. ‘Principal Solicitors’ were given delegated authority to prosecute for offences and to authorise any officer of the council to appear in court. The delegation was limited to those functions, she noted, and it was the Development Control Manager who was given delegated authority to issue and serve enforcement notices. Therefore, it was the council’s Development Control Manager who had authority to issue the notice and not the Principal Solicitor.

The inspector concluded that the notice was issued by the Principal Solicitor without the requisite authority and was thus ultra vires. That being so, she declared the notice a nullity for lack of proper authority.

Councils might wish to check their procedures.

The following DCP section is relevant: 4.5321