Remote Attendance, Meetings and Public Access

April 3rd, 2020 by James Goudie KC

The Local Authorities etc (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Meetings) ( England and Wales) Regulations 2020, S.I. 2020/392 contain 4 Parts. Part 1, Regs 1-3, is General. It and Part 4, Police and Crime Panels, apply to England and Wales. Parts 2 and 3 apply to England only. Part 2 relates to Remote Attendance and consists of Regs 4&5. Part 3 relates to Modification of Meetings and Public Access Requirements. It consists of Regs 6-17. The Regs apply to Meetings that are required to be held, or held, before 7 May next year. Reg 3 relates to Interpretation, including “local authority” and “local authority meeting”.

Reg 4(1) enables local authorities to hold and alter the frequency and occurrence of meetings without requirement for further notice. Reg 4(2) provides that where an appointment would otherwise be made or require to be made at an Annual Meeting, such appointment continues until the next Annual Meeting or until such time as the authority may determine.

Reg 5 makes provision for Members of local authorities, and members of the public, to attend Meetings remotely. It sets conditions for such attendance. It disapplies restrictions and prohibitions in Standing Orders.

Reg 6 relates to frequency of Meetings. It amends Schedule 12 to LGA 1972. It removes paras 1-7 of Schedule 12. This has the effect of disapplying the provision requiring local authorities to have an Annual Meeting. Reg 7 relates to the GLA. Regs 8-12 relate to other authorities.

Regs 13-17 relate to public and press access to information relating to decisions made by local authorities to enable such access to be available through remote means. They modify Section 1 of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, Part VA of LGA 1972, inserting a new Section 100L (Supplemental Provisions on Public Access to Meetings and Documents) in LGA 1972, Section 9G of LGA 2000, the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements)(Meetings and Access to Information)(England) Regs 2012, and the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.

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