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Councillors call for online meetings to continue post-pandemic Published Date: 12/05/2021

National Association of Local Councils, said the decision by government had left local authorities in an "impossible situation", having to "navigate through changing guidance and rules" to make meetings safe, while continuing with business.

The BBC reported that Justin Griggs said some councils will be suspending their meetings going forward and delegating decisions to officials, despite the democratic implications.

"While the government was right to praise councils for playing their part in the pandemic, it is wrong not to legislate to allow online meetings to continue," he said.

The BBC reported that some councils have pledged to continue Zooming anyway - even without the law supporting them.

Woughton Parish Council in Buckinghamshire has seen turnout increase from a handful of residents to upwards of 200.

Councillor Jordan Coventry said: "As a council we have decided that we are going to continue to meet online and serve the best interests of our people the best as we can.

"Why should we spend public money to rent a live space, when we are already one of the most deprived areas in our our local area, in order to comply with a frankly silly law?"

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said they recognised that "in some cases remote meetings have widened access to local democracy and enabled councils to conduct essential business throughout the pandemic".

But she said the government "also has an important role in ensuring meetings continue to have arrangements in place that strengthen scrutiny and transparency in councils".

She added: "That's why the we have launched a call for evidence on remote meetings and their use during the pandemic.

"This will inform any potential next steps on legislation or guidance regarding their use in the future."