Community right to challenge

What is the community right to challenge?

Under the Localism Act 2011, relevant bodies or community organisations in the community have a right to challenge how the Council delivers its services and can submit an 'expression of 'interest' to be considered to take over the management of a Council facility, or the delivery of a Council service.

This right is called the ‘community right to challenge’ 

Submitting an expression of interest (EOI)

The time windows during which the Council will receive an EOI for a relevant service will be: on a repeating cycle every three calendar months (March, June, September and December) from 12:01am on the 1st day of the month to 11:59pm on the 15th day of the month.

EOIs must be submitted by email to Tracy Blowers, PA Manager: tracy.blowers@darlington.gov.uk

Any EOI received outside these time windows or through any other medium will not be opened or acknowledged by the Council.

Please note that these time windows are subject to change as further work on the specified time windows for particular services is progressed by the Council.

The Council will evaluate and communicate the decision of the EOI in accordance with the guidance provided by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Community right to challenge guidance [external link]

What should be included in an EOI?

  1. where the relevant body proposes to deliver the relevant service as part of a consortium or to use a sub-contractor for delivery of any part of the relevant service, the information in points two and three (below) must be given in respect of each member of the consortium and each sub-contractor as appropriate
  2. information about the financial resources of the relevant body submitting the expression of interest.
  3. evidence that demonstrates that by the time of any procurement exercise the relevant body submitting the expression of interest will be capable of providing or assisting in providing the relevant service
  4. information about the relevant service sufficient to identify it and the geographical area to which the expression of interest relates
  5. information about the outcomes to be achieved by the relevant body or, where appropriate, the consortium of which it is a part, in providing or assisting in the provision of the relevant service, in particular:
    1. how the provision or assistance will promote or improve the social, economic or environmental well-being of the relevant authority’s area
    2. how it will meet the needs of the users of the relevant service
  6. where the relevant body consists of employees of the relevant authority, details of how that relevant body proposes to engage other employees of the relevant authority who are affected by the expression of interest.

Acceptance, rejection or modification of an EOI

An EOI may be rejected if:

  1. the expression of interest does not comply with any of the requirements specified in the act or in regulations
  2. the relevant body provides information in the expression of interest which in the opinion of the relevant authority, is in a material particular inadequate or inaccurate
  3. the relevant authority considers, based on the information in the expression of interest, that the relevant body or, where applicable:
    1. any member of the consortium of which it is a part
    2. any sub-contractor referred to in the expression of interest is not suitable to provide or  assist in providing the relevant service
  4. the expression of interest relates to a relevant service where a decision, evidenced in writing, has been taken by the relevant authority to stop providing that service.
  5. the expression of interest relates to a relevant service:
    1. provided, in whole or in part, by or on behalf of the relevant authority to persons who are also in receipt of a service provided or arranged by an NHS body which is integrated with the relevant service
    2. the continued integration of such services is, in the opinion of the relevant authority, critical to the well-being of those persons.
  6. the relevant service is already the subject of a procurement exercise.
  7. the relevant authority and a third party have entered into negotiations for provision of the service, which negotiations are at least in part conducted in writing.
  8. the relevant authority has published its intention to consider the provision of the relevant service by a body that 2 or more specified employees of that authority propose to establish.
  9. the relevant authority considers that the expression of interest is frivolous or vexatious.
  10. the relevant authority considers that acceptance of the expression of interest is likely to lead to contravention of an enactment or other rule of law or a breach of statutory duty.

As an alternative the Council may decide to modify the EOI and will contact the person(s) or community group submitting the EOI to enter into discussions to reach agreement on the EOI.

Where an Expression of Interest is received the Council will notify the person(s) or community group within 30 days of the closure of the time window described above to inform them of the timeline of the decision making process.

Service areas excluded from the community right to challenge

A number of service areas are excluded from the community right to challenge either for a limited time or permanently:

  • a relevant service commissioned or provided by a relevant authority in respect of a named person with complex individual health or social care needs are permanently excluded
  • services which are commissioned and managed by individuals or their representatives using direct payments do not fall within the scope of the community right to challenge

Procurement exercise by the Council

When an EOI has been considered and the Council has decided to accept it then the council will undertake a procurement exercise, within a reasonable time, for the service identified in the EOI.

The Council will manage the procurement exercise in accordance to its contract procedure rules and relevant procurement procedures reflecting the value and complexity of the service to be procured.