Face to face Council Meetings

Published: 22 March 2020

As Clerk, I am being asked by a few residents why the Council are intending to continue to hold face to face meetings given Government advice to social distance or self-isolate. The answer, simply, is that under the laws we follow, The Local Government Act 1972, meetings have to be held in a “place” allowing public access and participation where appropriate. Many Councils have contacted the two main bodies which give us advice, The National Association of Local Councils and The Society of Local Council Clerks, who have confirmed that meetings are NOT allowed to be held either virtually or by telephone at the present time and must still take place in public.

Both NALC and the SLCC are in discussion with the relevant Ministry Department to seek relevant guidance as to whether for a certain period they could take place virtually. I am looking into platforms which would allow us all, Councillors and the public, to attend so that should we get authority, we are able to move to virtual meetings straight away. It is possible that the Annual Parish Meeting to be held on April 7th will be able to be cancelled completely and we will update you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the Emergency General Meeting to be held tomorrow is to be kept very short, merely allowing Council to deal with these important issues which need to be resolved to enable the Council to continue to function if we are unable to meet with a quorum over the next few months. Councillors will be maintaining the appropriate 2 metres distance from one another and have been asked to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly before attending the meeting. There will also be no printed agendas to be handed out. We ask that, should your intention to be to attend, that you also follow this guidance. Please note there is no public participation section at this meeting to allow the meeting to be as brief as possible.

I hope that this answers any queries but do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone should you have any further questions. My hours are likely to be fairly erratic over the next few weeks given that this is only a part time role, my husband is working from home full time and I have two young children who are also now at home so please do bear with me and I will respond as soon as possible.