Councils Need Flexibility on Meetings

December 8, 2021 3:00 PM

At Council logoLiberal Democrats have called for Councils to have flexibility over whether to hold in-person meetings, on-line meetings or hybrid ones.

Earlier in the year it was wrong to hold meetings that made decisions in person and right to hold them on-line. Then the law changed, and it was wrong to hold them on-line and only right to hold them in-person. At this week's meeting of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Ian Marks proposed that the Leader should write to the Government asking for the law to be changed to allow flexibility.

wp-content/uploads/imarks.jpgCllr Marks said: The Government has got many things wrong in its handling of COVID. The temporary enabling of virtual council meetings allowed the Council to continue making democratic decisions efficiently, transparently and safely. We welcome the return to in-person meetings but recognise the benefits to democracy of providing flexible options.

Holding remote and hybrid council meetings has advantages. Some councillors have work or caring commitments, mobility or accessibility issues limiting their ability to attend meetings in person. In the future, flexibility and increased accessibility could help to attract a wider range of potential councillors.

A reduction in unnecessary travel by attending some meetings virtually rather than driving, would reduce emissions and cut down on the Council's carbon footprint. Providing virtual meeting options can make council meetings more accessible and produce better engagement from the public and the press.

The Motion was passed, and letters have now been written to the Secretary of State asking for this change with a copy to our two MPs asking for their support.