The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, has written to council leaders about remote meetings to confirm that the government has considered the case for extending legislation very carefully and has concluded that it is not possible to bring forward emergency legislation on this issue at this time.
The government has also updated the guidance on the safe use of council buildings following this confirmation, aimed at helping councils operate safely and securely, including using existing powers to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings deemed necessary. NALC have not been involved or consulted on the update to this guidance and will obviously need to consider the new advice.
A 12 week call for evidence has also been launched about how remote meetings have been used to inform any potential future legislation regarding their use beyond the coronavirus pandemic. NALC will of course be responding to this consultation and will be discussing this with other key stakeholders who they have already been working with on this issue.
NALC are supporting the application by Hertfordshire County Council/Lawyers in Local Government/Association of Democratic Services Officers to the court for a declaration. This will continue despite the government’s decision and is expected to be determined before the end of April.
Updates to follow.