In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government drafted regulations and legislation, Coronavirus Act 2020, to give public organisations emergency powers to respond to the crisis situation. The act received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020, having been fast-tracked through parliament in just four sitting days.
The Act has three main aims:
- to give further powers to the government to slow the spread of the virus
- to reduce the resourcing and administrative burden on public bodies
- to limit the impact of potential staffing shortages on the delivery of public services.
The enacted Coronavirus Act 2020 includes two regulations relevant to our activities and services. Firstly, it gave us the power to cancel the local elections until May 2021. Secondly, it gave us the power to change meeting arrangements and enable virtual meetings.
The regulations under the Act also enables us to:
- remote attendance to any meeting
- hold meetings at different time
- alter the frequency of meetings
- move or cancel meetings
- continue appointments normally made at an Annual Meeting until the next Annual Meeting
- vary the rules of voting, attendance and access to documents
- provide remote access for press and public at the meetings.
Elections and elected members
There will be no elections held before 6 May 2020.
Elected members who were due to retire in May 2020 will remain in office until May 2021.
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meetings scheduled for 21 May and 1 June 2020 will be deferred until 20 and 24 May 2021.
Executive and Committee Meetings
The calendar of meetings previously published for 2020 to 2021, with the exception of the Annual General Meetings, will take place as scheduled and virtually via Zoom.
Working groups and task groups will be scheduled in accordance with normal requirements.
Virtual council meetings
The management of the virtual meetings will be maintained by our member services officers who will:
- take minutes of the meetings
- operate the technologies required to deliver the meetings
- maintain a meeting register including: elected members taking part in the meeting, other elected members, council officers and members of the public invited to the attend the meeting
- manage and record any voting processes undertaken as part of the meeting’s agenda items.
Speaking time limit
A time limit will be applied to all elected members speaking at meetings. The time limit will be five minutes with the exception of the Planning Committee which will be 10 minutes.
Where votes need to be taken the chairman of the meeting or the officer supporting the meeting, will:
- call the names of elected members at the meeting in alphabetical order
- ask each elected member to cast their vote.
Elected members can cast their votes by calling:
- ‘yes’ if in favour of the recommendation
- ‘no’ if against the recommendation
- ‘abstain’ if they wish to withdraw from the vote.
The result of the vote will be recorded by our member services officers and announced by the council officer supporting the meeting.
Public questions to the Executive
The opportunity to put forward public questions has been maintained. All answers will be in writing and no questions will be posed in person at the Executive.
Public speaking at Planning Committee
Public participation at the meetings will be limited to people who have been invited and with a registered interest in the meeting, such as planning applicants and providers of professional services to support agenda items.
The normal three minute speaking time still applies.
Once the invited contributor has finished speaking at the meeting their Zoom connection will end and they can resume watching the remainder of the meeting via the council’s webcasting facility.
Council meeting agendas
Meeting agenda packs and supporting documents will continue to be published in the usual manner online.
Watch virtual council meetings
You can watch council meeting live, or on demand after the meeting has taken place, via the usual webcasting function.