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Council finds loophole to still meet virtually

Times Echo and Life / All News / Council finds loophole to still meet virtually
3 months, 19 days agoNo Comments.
7 JUL

Council finds loophole to still meet virtually

By timesecholife on in All News, Latest News

A council in the Moorlands has found a loophole to be able to still hold some council meetings virtually. As a result of restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 it was not possible for council meetings to take place in person.

A council in the Moorlands has found a loophole to be able to still hold some council meetings virtually.

As a result of restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 it was not possible for council meetings to take place in person.

In response the Government brought into force temporary regulations that enabled local authorities to hold remote meetings.

However, that legislation only allowed for remote council meetings to take place up to May 7, 2021; and has therefore led to parish, town, district and other councils to go back to meeting in person, or not at all.

Some councils, such as Cheadle Town Council have had to change their meeting venue from the council chambers on Leek Road, Cheadle to Freehay Village Hall to allow enough space for the still-in-force social distancing regulations to be adhered to. This has also meant that the town council has had to temporarily change their meeting day from Tuesday to Wednesday due to the availability of the hall.

However, some councils have not held meetings since they have had to go back to meeting in person, including Forsbrook Parish Council.

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has found a loophole to be able to still hold some meetings remotely.

The SMDC Council Meeting on Wednesday, June 30, took place virtually, as did the Cheadle Town Centre Project Stakeholder Panel meeting on Tuesday, June 22, while the SMDC Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, June 29, took place in the SMDC council chambers in Leek, but with the council leader, councillor Sybil Ralphs, joining in virtually.

The Times & Echo contacted SMDC to ask about the council still holding some meetings virtually. A spokesman said: “The council is holding its meetings in accordance with legislation and Government advice.

Where space is available to allow social distancing requirements to be met, meetings that require a formal decision to be made are taking place in person. These are open for the public to attend, subject to reduced capacity levels.

The Full Council meeting took place virtually in a deliberative manner in order for councillors to express their views with regards to items on the agenda. The formal decisions were then made by officers using emergency arrangements within the council’s constitution.

This is in line with advice issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. This states that during the current circumstances councils can use their existing powers to delegate decision making to senior officers.”

The spokesman added: “All meetings are also being webcast to the public whilst coronavirus restrictions remain in place.

By holding meetings in this way the council can ensure that required decisions are made whilst reducing the potential health risks of meeting in person for councillors, officers and members of the public.”

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