Local government acts

Local Government (Records) Act 1962

The Local Government (Records) Act 1962 (LGRA 1962) confers limited discretionary powers for local authorities to provide certain archives services. Section 1(1) of this Act says that ‘a local authority may do all such things as appear to it necessary or expedient for enabling adequate use to be made of records under its control’.
It goes on to refer to allowing inspection and copying of records, preparing indexes and guides to them and publishing and exhibiting them. The Act refers solely to the service provision aspect of archive offices’ work, not to their stewardship obligations nor any wider responsibilities and functions. In addition the Act empowers them to acquire records of local significance over and above their own administrative records, care for them and make them available for study by the public.

This Act has been successively amended to cover all county councils, all London boroughs, metropolitan districts and unitary councils.

View the Local Government (Records) Act 1962, as amended to 2003

Some local authorities which are not covered by the 1962 Act hold collections of archives under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. Library authorities are empowered to hold collections of archives as long as this does not become their dominant function.

Local Government Act 1972

The Local Government Act 1972 (s.224) requires local authorities to ‘make proper arrangements with respect to any documents that belong to or are in the custody of the council of any of their officers’. In 1999 the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (now the Department for Communities and Local Government) issued guidance on the interpretation of the term ‘proper arrangements’.

The guidance includes sections on the management of a local authority’s administrative records, whether kept on paper or in electronic form, and proper arrangements for those records which have enduring historical value and which should be kept by an established archive service.

Relevant sections of the Local Government Act 1972 (PDF, 0.05Mb)

See Guidance on ‘proper arrangements’ for archives

Local Government (Wales) Act 1994

The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 (s.60) required all the new unitary authorities in Wales to submit schemes for their proposed delivery of archive services, to the Secretary of State. Following the reorganisation of local authorities in Wales the new principal councils should make and maintain schemes setting out ‘their arrangements for the proper care, preservation and management of their records’, including details of any shared arrangements. All schemes must be kept under review and modified if considered appropriate.

The scope of this act covers any documents, in whatever form and in whatever medium, which convey or are capable of conveying information, which belongs to the council or of which they have custody of as well as those that have been retained for reference and research purposes, or because of their likely historical interest.

View the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994.

Additional requirements with regard to access to information in records and archives, affecting local and regional authorities, have been imposed through the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations. These include a statutory right for the citizen of access to information, subject to certain exemptions and conditions.