Strong support for remote meetings to continue

More than 80 per cent of councils would be very likely or fairly likely to conduct meetings remotely once the coronavirus emergency is over, if they had the power to do so, according to an LGA survey.

Councils were also keen (79 per cent) to continue with hybrid meetings – where members can choose to attend in person or remotely.

All the responding councils had used current powers to hold virtual meetings during the pandemic.

The results – based on responses from 74 per cent of English councils – were published ahead of legal action to allow councils to continue to hold remote meetings, with judgement awaited as first was going to press.

Councils have been able to hold online or ‘remote’ meetings since the start of the pandemic – a flexibility which has also helped boost democratic participation, according to the LGA and others.

However, that flexibility ends on 7 May after ministers decided not to extend emergency legislation. 

Hertfordshire County Council, Lawyers in Local Government and the Association of Democratic Services Officers made an application to the courts to declare that councils already have the powers needed to hold online meetings, which was heard on 21 April. The LGA was an ‘Interested Party’ in the action, along with the National Association of Local Councils.

Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “The case is clear for the ability for councils to continue to be able to hold meetings flexibly.”

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