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Renewed call for remote meetings as omicron spreads Published Date: 05/12/2021

Lawyers in Local Government and the Association of Democratic Services Officers have called on the Government to restore the ability of councils to meet remotely, even if only for a temporary period, in light of the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant.

In a joint statement, LLG and ADSO said:

“The recent arrival of the new covid variant and the reimposition of restrictions announced by the Prime Minister in the last few days have increased concern amongst councillors in some authorities about the risks of in-person meetings particularly in cases where they are elderly and possibly vulnerable.

“We are already receiving feedback from authorities that they are having to re-introduce measures (similar to the lockdown periods) to safely manage their council meetings.

“Both our organisations promote good governance as a cornerstone of our existence. We fully understand the risks associated with remote council meetings in matters such as compliance and integrity of voting and collectively local government worked hard during lockdown to ensure that those risks were minimised. In the main, councils responded positively, and problems were few and far between.

“We accept therefore that any future arrangements for remote meetings should operate within appropriate guidelines/rules. We have offered to work with the Government and the Local Government Association to agree a national code or protocol to promote compliance and best practice. We feel that current and future technology can assist in this and can greatly improve the management and regulation of these meetings.”