Return to Face to Face Meetings

Published: 09 May 2021

From the very start of the pandemic until now and the High Court hearings there have been many interpretations of what has happened, might happen and the rights and wrongs of the situation we find ourselves in with ‘virtual meetings’. We also know we have supporters and detractors for meeting virtually, so for some meeting face to face can’t come quick enough whilst others will lament the loss of Zoom etc. What we do know for certain is that the temporary legislation enabling the use of Zoom and Teams et al to determine council business, has now ceased from this point forward.

My colleagues and I in the South West this week have listened to a number of views and taken part in national calls rounding off the latest feedback from various parties. We used yesterday to pool our resources and come up with guidance I hope you will find useful. This guidance attached may either shock you or simply reinforce the conclusions you’ve drawn ahead of this email; or somewhere in between depending on your council's position. Each council invariably has a set of unique circumstances, plus we have the benefit of some very experienced Clerks whom will navigate councils through the next 2/3 months. At the same time we have Clerk vacancies and others new into role and this may be challenging to say the least.

If you have managed to bring forward your Annual Council Meetings before today – well done, but we know that’s not the case for all. The attached document makes the assumption that most of you have been able to do just that which is what we’ve been recommending since the start of 2021. If you are yet to hold your Annual Council Meeting or Annual Parish Meeting of Electors please still read the document. If further clarification or help is required please seek help from us on a ‘one off’ basis by email. We didn’t want to overload this document with various ‘what if’ scenarios – clearly these will exist and we will try carefully to plot council a way out!

One final point – as with the previous year we are in for a challenging few months and I’d encourage Clerks and Chairs to engage their colleagues on the best way forward at a local level. Not everyone will be comfortable rushing back to cramped village halls with the heating on max! For that reason, if you can it might be best to reconvene when possible after 21st June, although in some circumstances meeting before then may be possible. Whatever, you do – let’s work together, talking through the issues and finding the best way forward.

We are here to help and I apologise that we couldn’t draft the guidance a few weeks back, this issue has gone down to the wire – ‘we are where we are’ as the saying goes, let’s find the solutions to get back to business together.

The full guidance for members is in the Support menu which requires the usual username and password. Look for Resource Hub/Governance

Neil Wedge (Chief Executive, DAPTC)