Virtual Council Meetings to end on May 7th
The Local Government Association (LGA), a cross-party body, has responded to the government’s announcement that emergency legislation allowing virtual council meetings will not be extended beyond May 7th.
Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the LGA, said:
“This decision is extremely disappointing. The Government’s own roadmap out of lockdown states that indoor gatherings or events – organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation – cannot be organised until May 17 at the earliest. Yet councils will be unable to hold remote meetings from May 7. MPs will retain the right to participate remotely until at least June 21 but the powers-that-be in the House of Commons will not make time available to legislate for councillors to do the same.
“The case is clear for the ability for councils to continue to be able to hold meetings flexibly. We urge the Government to reverse this decision and not force councils to have to hold COVID-19 secure face-to-face council meetings until all restrictions are lifted.
“This also risks damaging the gains seen in public participation in remote council meetings during the pandemic and our vital local democratic process.
“Left with no choice, Lawyers in Local Government, the Association of Democratic Services and Hertfordshire County Council have made an application to the Courts to declare that councils already have the powers needed to hold online meetings. The LGA will be providing support in these proceedings as the representative body for councils.”