In committee stage in the Commons on 23 March, an amendment was made bringing in a new clause which deals with local authority meetings.
Summary of clause:
- The Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers will be able to make regulations relating to—
(a) requirements to hold local authority meetings
(b) the times at or by which, periods within which, or frequency with which, local authority meetings are to be held
(c) the places at which local authority meetings are to be held
(d) the manner in which persons may attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings
(e) public admission and access to local authority meetings
(f) the places at which, and manner in which, documents relating to local authority meetings are to be open to inspection by, or otherwise available to, members of the public.
- This includes particular provision for persons to attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings without all of the persons, or without any of the persons, being together in the same place. So Skype meetings will be allowed. This appears to be applicable to all meetings, including planning and licensing meetings. The regulations should make that clear.
- The clause only applies in relation to meetings to be held before 7 May 2021.
- “Local authority meeting” means:
(a) a local authority;
(b) an executive of a local authority;
(c) a joint committee of local authorities;
(d) a committee or sub-committee of any of the above.
- “Local authority” includes county councils, district councils, London borough councils, the Common Council of the City of London, the Greater London Authority and parish councils.
- The regulations are to be made by statutory instrument, subject to the less rigorous negative resolution procedure in Parliament, meaning that if the regulations are drafted quickly they may be in force very soon. The Bill is likely to become an Act on 25 March, and regulations can be expected soon after.
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