Remote Council Meetings

LLG & ADSO Serve Pre-Action Letter on Secretary of State

“The Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) have been lobbying the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to change primary legislation to enable local authority remote meetings to take place beyond the current statutory deadline of 6 May 2021.

“In the event of this not being successful, and to support the Secretary of State in his wish to find a solution, ADSO, LLG and Hertfordshire County Council have instructed counsel to issue proceedings in the High Court to seek a declaratory judgement to enable such meetings to take place within existing legislation.

“A pre-action letter has been served on the Secretary of State giving him the opportunity to respond to our proposals. Once this notice period expires, if there is no material change to the present circumstances, we will submit our claim to the Court. We are not yet in a position to provide a timeline as to when the case might be heard. We will apply to expediate any proceedings, but it is a matter for the court as to when our case will be listed. We will advise all interested parties when we know more.

“In the meantime, we are asking local authorities (if not submitted already) to provide us with quantifiable evidence to show the benefits of remote meetings and why they should continue”.

Local authorities, including West Lancashire Borough Council, should tell the people they serve what benefits, if any, there are to continuing with remote meetings after 6th May. Many elected members will by than have received vaccinations that are 90% successful against coronavirus infections. Is that a material change? It may not be right for a packed council chamber but committees are smaller and can be spaced. Justice seen is justice done? As so should be public accountability?

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