Agenda item

CALENDAR OF MEETINGS 2021-2022

To consider arrangements for meetings and decision making from 7 May 2021 (report attached).

 

Minutes:

Council received and considered a report to seek approval on the direction on meetings for the municipal year 2021-22.   The report covered all eventualities depending on the expected High Court ruling on whether remote meetings would be lawful from the 7 May 2021 in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972.

 

A decision-making process was in place with delegated authority to the Proper Officer if meetings could not take place remotely.  Decisions would be based on councillor feedback by email. It was agreed that all Councillors could be copied in when decisions were requested and that remote meetings could be held for informal discussions.

 

A question was asked whether the Health Services Task and Finish Group would reconvene as no meetings were listed on the proposed Calendar of Meetings.  It was confirmed a meeting would be scheduled in June but no firm date had yet been set.

 

With regard to resuming face to face meetings, this would be dependent upon the Council’s ability to meet any Covid guidelines to mitigate risks for all involved. Face to face meetings would not resume before 21 June at the earliest and would be dependent upon several factors including prior Council approval of a risk assessment. A question was raised whether investigations had been made into appropriate alternative premises to hold meetings and whether a Track and Trace system would have to be set up when in the position to do this. All options were being explored but the updated Government guidance, expected prior to 21 June, would be instrumental in setting out what arrangements would need to be in place.

 

In addition to the recommendations it was proposed that Standing Order 3a be suspended to allow Council meetings to take place at premises other than the White House, as this was likely to be necessary to allow for social distancing and other Covid mitigation measures.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)           To note the report

 

(ii)          To endorse that the Annual Council Meeting be moved from Monday 17 May to Tuesday 4 May to allow it to be held remotely in accordance with The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.

 

(iii)        To endorse the proposed Calendar of Meetings for 2021-22 with the following arrangements in place:

 

(a)  Meetings scheduled from 7 May 2021 – 21 June 2021 will be held remotely, if the High Court action being taken on 21 April 2021 (with Government support) finds that remote meetings are lawful in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972.

 

(b)  If the High Court decision is not in favour of the continuation of remote meetings or until such time as a decision has been published, meetings scheduled from 7 May 2021 – 21 June 2021 will be cancelled. Decision making will be delegated with councillor email approval in line with the procedure resolved by Council on 20 March 2020. Such authority will be further underpinned by the approval of revised Standing Orders which set out delegated authority arrangements at SO 15 (c) (vii).

 

(c)  It may be possible to hold meetings after 21 June 2021 in person, subject to:

 

- the Council having approved an appropriate risk assessment which incorporates Government guidance in respect of Covid-19 and takes into account its duty of care to councillors, officers and the public.

- an appropriate venue is available.

- any measures required by said risk assessment can be implemented by this time.

- appropriate arrangements in respect of members of the public can be put in place. 

 

(d)  Should the steps at (c) not be achieved by 21 June 2021, meetings and decision making will continue as set out at a) or b) (as applicable) until such time as those conditions can be met.

 

(iv)        That Council note and endorse that in the event of any further changes to Government guidance which prevent face to face Council meetings taking place (e.g. in autumn/winter 2021), that arrangements as set out at (a) or (b) (as applicable) will be implemented until such time as formal meetings can be resumed.

 

(v)          That Standing Order 3a be suspended until further notice to allow for Council meetings to be held in a venue other than the White House, should this be necessary.

 

Supporting documents: