Issue - meetings

Review of Article 15 - Covid-19 Interim Decision Making Arrangements

Meeting: 15/09/2020 - Council (Item 36)

36 Review of Article 15 - Covid-19 Interim Decision-Making Arrangements pdf icon PDF 240 KB

The Council adopted, under urgency provisions, an Article for the Constitution which enabled effective and transparent decision-making to continue during the Covid-19 crisis, including provisions relating to the holding of virtual meetings. The Article included provisions for review and indicated that, in any event, the Article would be reviewed by the end of September 2020.

 

This report therefore seeks Council’s approval for a revision to this Article in light of working practices and latest guidance. The report outlines options for conducting meetings of the council during the pandemic and recommends that virtual meetings should continue.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'C' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The Council adopted, under urgency provisions, an Article for the Constitution which enabled effective and transparent decision-making to continue during the Covid-19 crisis, including provisions relating to the holding of virtual meetings. The Article included provisions for review and indicated that, in any event, the Article would be reviewed by the end of September 2020.

 

The Leader of the Council outlined the interim decision-making arrangements adopted including the arrangements for virtual meetings.  She reported that the Council had been able to maintain a full programme of Committees acknowledging that during lockdown there had been some reduction whilst maintaining statutory Committees.  All Members had been able to access virtual meetings and the public had the opportunity to view public meetings via live streaming through You Tube, facebook and other electronic methods. The Leader of the Council explained that the report therefore sought Council’s approval for a revision to this Article in light of working practices and latest guidance and outlined options for conducting meetings of the council during the pandemic and recommended that virtual meetings should continue. The Council was advised that consideration had been given to what was practical and admissible and the Leader of the Council reported that on site meetings would not be compliant with national public health guidance.  She commented on the level of public interaction and the positive comments received in viewing meetings electronically.  The Leader of the Council referred to the option of hybrid meetings which had also been considered but explained that there were difficulties with the co-ordination of differing electronic systems which were not compatible. Therefore, it was recommended to continue with virtual meetings.  Councillors were informed that the Town Hall Accommodation Project was making good progress and once the Group on civic and meeting spaces was convened (the Leader made a request for nominees to serve on this group) and concluded its work some spaces would be provided with the appropriate equipment.

 

A Portfolio Holder congratulated officers on the work undertaken to enable the Council to undertake meetings virtually and how the Chairman managed Council meetings.  He welcomed 8.4 of the Article and the introduction of other parties to overview and scrutiny meetings.

 

A Member expressed her concerns on the length of time for the interim decision-making arrangements and asked if a review date could be included. The Leader of the Council clarified that 7 May 2021 was when the regulations would be reviewed by the Government.  She highlighted the opportunity in view of the current situation and longer-term implications of Covid-19 of being able to reintroduce physical meetings was unlikely.

 

RESOLVED that the revised Article 15 – Covid-19 Interim Decision-Making Arrangements, as set out in Appendix 1 to this report, be approved with the current remote meeting arrangements.

 

Voting: Unanimous