Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have written to the Local Government Secretary on the impact of Covid-19 on governance issues.
The letter to Robert Jenrick, which can be viewed here, covers in particular the holding of public meetings and attendance of councillors.
It asks the Secretary of State to urgently consider:
- suspending the requirement to hold Council annual meetings until further notice
- permitting the remote participation and voting by councillors at essential Council meetings as is currently being considered.
- temporarily waiving the requirement for a councillor to attend a meeting of their local authority at least once in any six-month period where the technological capabilities available to members preclude the ability to take part remotely (dependent upon the outcome of(b)above).
- delaying any by-elections that are required until the local elections in 2021
The letter also addresses issues around Education Appeal Panels, and registrars being compelled to perform marriages.
The LLG/ADSO letter suggests that many of the issues could be addressed by emergency regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
LLG has meanwhile said it is looking to pull together a comprehensive list of concerns including more specific analysis of licensing, planning, fostering and adoption, DOLs Assessments, contract extensions and OJEU, employment and duty of care, service provision, social care.
Last Friday LLG and ADSO issued a joint statement on local authority decision-making and the democratic process in light of the coronavirus outbreak.