Local Government – Business as usual?
We’re all being told that we need to stay inside when possible, but what does this mean for Local Government and Council meetings?
Cratus looked at the Home Counties Councils last week and found that the majority of Councils were still holding some meetings, as most have not yet decided their plan going forward. More and more Councils are moving towards streaming meetings online, which is a move likely to become a permanent feature.
For those Councils who have cancelled some meetings, it is the smaller committees such as Audit and Scrutiny that have been the first to be postponed. Many Councils are trying to carry on Planning committees, whether that means restricting public access or webcasting.
However, Councils may not have to make the decision soon enough. Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has reportedly made a commitment to chiefs and senior council officers to give them the temporary freedom to hold meetings remotely. This will allow Councils to defer their annual meetings held in May and to dial in to vote in a meeting. The Local Government Association published a briefing on the Coronavirus Bill today (23rd March) calling for the Bill to allow Councillors to remain serving their position if they are not physically present to vote for more than six months, in addition to the ability to undertake meetings remotely or postpone.
These statistics are changing day by day, but what our research has shown is that there is no one way for Councils to deal with such a situation. We’ll be keeping an eye on what Councils do next so if you want to know more, get in touch.