The legislation was introduced on 4 April 2020 to allow Councils to hold virtual meetings. The meetings have to be advertised on the council website (not the council noticeboards). EGTC will put notice up on the noticeboards with 5 days notice to point people to the website).
The legislation also allows the Annual Council Meeting which should be held the 2nd Monday in May to be delayed until May 2021. There has been no lifting of the 6 month attendance rule for Councillors they therefore must attend meetings or lose their seats. No Councillors are at any risk until the end of July at this present time.
- The following Delegated Decisions were taken by the Clerk in consultation with the Council Chairman and Vice Chairman and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of Finance & General Purposes to revise the earlier decision to suspend all meetings in lieu of the new legislation. Virtual meetings will recommence for all Committees and Council with effect from the planning meeting on Wednesday 13 May
- The Annual Council Meeting will be held in October, it is hoped that this will be able to be a physical meeting, if this is not possible it will be held virtually. The decisions made at the last Annual meeting in May 2019 still hold and will continue until October at which point the Mayor will change and all the committee Chairs/VC will be elected. We will then hold the next Annual meeting in May 2021 at which time the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will be re‑elected, effectively giving them an 18 month term.
- The Clerk would take a subscription to Zoom to allow unlimited length of meetings and engage the security controls for meetings
- The Clerk would draw up the policy for the virtual meetings
- The Clerk will arrange some Zoom training sessions for all councillors during the week commencing 4 May to allow Councillors to become familiar with this format before public meetings are started on the virtual platform from 13 May
Policy for Virtual Meetings
The following policy is to be used governing the use of virtual meetings :
- Where the virtual meeting policy conflict with the existing Standing Orders for the Council this policy will apply, in all other cases (including the rules of debate) the existing standing orders for physical meetings apply.
- A meeting is a meeting of the council as allowed under The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and therefore attendance is summonsed to attend and apologies must be given if the Councillor cannot attend.
- The meeting platform will be an established provider such as Zoom.
- Agenda and notices will be published on the council website a minimum of 5 days prior to the meeting.
- The notice or agenda must include instructions as to how the public can request from the Clerk the link to attend the meeting.
- Any public wishing to attend must ensure that they are registered under their true name, pseudonyms are not allowed and where discovered the person will be denied access or ejected from the meeting.
- All public participants will be muted and only able to participate during the allotted time on the agenda.
- The public wishing to ask a question during the public participation may do so by indicating (via the raising their hand button), once that part is over the public will be muted and not be able to interact, but will still be able to hear the council. Public questions will follow the normal standing orders format.
- Councillors will be muted unless speaking (to remove background noise), they should indicate that they wish to speak by using the raise hand button.
- The Clerk will be the host for the gathering and closing of the meeting but can transfer the host facility to the Chairman during the meeting
- Any person can leave the meeting while in session, however any Councillors leaving the meeting will be recorded as such in the minutes for accuracy of decision making.
- Should the number of participants expected exceed the permitted participant limits, the council will not permit any public to join the meeting but will instead stream the meeting. Questions will be required to be submitted in advance. If this happens it will be made clear on the agenda/ notice.
- Following the meetings where possible, a recording will be made available via the Council Website.
- The Councillors are required to use a laptop/Mac/or other device owned by them to access the meetings, no additional payment will be made to support the device nor the WIFI connection.
- Officers are required to use existing devices and connectivity, if this is not available and their attendance is necessary the Council will supply a laptop/device.