The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 allow local councils to hold remote meetings. The regulations give automatic authority to hold remote meetings and amend standing orders as required.
These regulations remain in force until May 7th, 2021 or earlier if repealed, and require a number of temporary changes to Standing Orders.
These procedures should be read in conjunction with the Temple Cloud with Cameley Parish Council’s standing orders.
The Regulations made under s78 of Coronavirus Act 2020 apply and where there is a conflict between these and any other adopted standing orders or legislation, these Remote Meetings Procedures take precedence in relation to any remote meeting.
1. Annual Meeting
The requirement to hold an Annual Meeting of the Council is to be disregarded and prior to May 7th, 2021 may only take place
- a) where called by the Chairman or
- b) following a resolution calling for an annual meeting being passed at a meeting of the Council
2. Access to Information
“Published on the website of the council” will also apply in relation to where:
- a) a document is required to be ‘open to inspection’
- b) a document is required to be published and made available at the council’s offices.
- c) there is a requirement to publish information including public notices, agendas, minutes, background papers and written reports
3. Remote Access to Meetings
The definition of “meeting” within the Council’s Standing Orders is amended so that:
- a) ‘place’ includes where a meeting is held, or to be held in more than one place including electronic, digital or virtual locations such as internet locations, web addresses or conference call telephone numbers
- b) ‘open to the public’ includes access to the meeting by remote means including video conferencing, live webcasting and interactive streaming
- c) where a meeting is accessible to the public through remote means, the meeting is open to the public whether or not members of the public are able to attend the meeting in person.
- d) if the Council becomes aware that the its technology has failed, and the meeting is no longer accessible to the public, the meeting shall be adjourned.
- e) if public access cannot be restored within a reasonable period, the remaining business shall be deferred to a future meeting.
4. Councillors in remote attendance
A councillor is present and counted for the purposes of the quorum when they can:
- a) hear and where practicable see other members of the council
- b) hear and where practicable see members of the public wishing to participate during the public session of the meeting or as invited by the Chairman
A councillor be deemed to have left the meeting where, at any point in time during the meeting, any of the conditions for remote attendance are not met. In these circumstances the Chairman may if appropriate:
- c) adjourn the meeting to permit conditions for remote attendance to be re-established
- d) count the number of councillors in attendance for the purpose of the quorum
5. Remote attendance by members of the public
A member of the public is in attendance when they can:
- a) hear (and where practicable see) the members of the council at the meeting and also be heard (and where practicable be seen)
- b) hear (and where practicable see) the members of public attending the meeting and also be heard (and where practicable be seen), including those wishing to speak during the public session or as invited by the Chairman
A member of the public will be deemed to have left the meeting where, at any point during the meeting, any of the conditions for remote attendance at 5 a) are not met.
- c) Subject to 5 b) the Chairman may
- d) adjourn the meeting to permit conditions for remote attendance to be re-established
- e) vary the order of the agenda or complete the remaining business of the meeting in the absence of the member of the public in remote attendance.
6. Remote Voting
Unless a recorded vote is demanded, the Chairman will take the vote by :
- a) Clear visual confirmation at the meeting that there is agreement or
- b) a roll call and the number of votes for or against the motion or amendment or abstaining will be recorded.
7. Code of Conduct – councillors excluded from the meeting
Where a councillor is required to leave the room as a requirement of the Council’s code of conduct, the means of remote attendance and access will be severed whilst any discussion or vote take place.
8. Exclusion of the press and public
Where the council has resolved to exclude the press and public from any part of the meeting, due to the confidentiality of the business to be discussed then:
- a) The means of remote attendance and access to the meeting by members of the press and public will be severed
- b) Each councillor present shall declare that there are no other persons present who are not entitled to be (hearing or seeing), and/or recording the meeting.