10th May 2021

Council meetings

For the last year local councils had a dispensation from central government which allowed them to hold remote council meetings using platforms like Zoom. That dispensation expired on 7 May 2021. Despite extensive lobbying by the National Association of Local Councils central government has refused to renew the dispensation, saying that they are way too busy with their legislative timetable to renew the legislation that would allow remote meetings to continue.

So, what to do now?

We are now in a position where we can no longer meet remotely but if we were to meet in person over the next couple of months we would be breaching Covid legislation. Community halls like ours can only open for activities relating to children and education up until 17 May. Thereafter, there is a limit of six on all indoor gatherings up until 21 June. We will then need to see what, if any, social distancing rules remain in place.

In terms of planning indoor gatherings Council meetings present particular problems. Whilst we know in advance how many councillors and officers will be in attendance we have no idea how many members of the public might attend as they are not required to give prior notice. This makes the provision of a Covid secure environment rather difficult.

In Chudleigh we chose to bring forward our annual meeting to the 5 May so that a remove meeting was permissible. We cleared as much predictable business as possible which we hope will allow us to not meet until July. In the meantime we are exploring whether hybrid meetings are permissible. This would involve a mix of face to face attenders with others signing in remotely. This would allow us to control the numbers attending in person and ensure that we can allow a level of distancing so that attenders feel safe and secure. More news next month.