Scarborough Council given powers to hold meetings remotely during coronavirus lockdown

Councils across England have been given powers to hold meetings and votes remotely during the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 6th April 2020, 12:46 pm
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 12:59 pm

The new rules came into force on Saturday, too late for Scarborough Council which had already cancelled cabinet and planning committee meetings due to be held this week.

The government has temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person meaning that video conferencing will be able to be used going forward.

The requirement for meetings to be made accessible to the public remains, but it is up to each council to decide how it conducts meetings, how voting procedures work and how to ensure that the public has access.

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Scarborough Town Hall. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “Local authorities are the backbone of our democracy and they are playing a vital role in the national effort to keep people safe.

“This change will support them to do that while maintaining the transparency we expect in local decision making.

“Councillors and staff are already doing the right thing by following our advice to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“This includes working from home wherever possible, and the new powers to hold meetings virtually will make that easier.

“It’s critical that they continue to provide essential services and find innovative ways to maintain important economic functions they perform like the planning system and they will now be able to do so.

“We’ve given local authorities across England an additional £1.6 billion to help their crucial work in the national effort against coronavirus, and we are continuing to ensure they get all of the support that they need at this time.”

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