Decision Maker: Leader
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To note and endorse the approach of following
the emergency decision making process set out in the Constitution
to allow the Chief Executive to make all appropriate decisions and
to allow for appropriate consultation.
To note and endorse that the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) will review legislative changes and revised guidance to Local Government Decision making and will implement appropriate decision making processes including virtual meetings if and when the legislation allows for this and it is considered appropriate to do so.
*PLEASE NOTE This decision was originally
published on or near the date of the decision and so call in no
longer applies. It has been re-published as part of the change in
committee management system that we use.*
PLEASE NOTE that this decision has been taken under the Special Urgency and Call-in Exemption procedures and as such is not open to call-in.
To allow appropriate decision making to take place whilst the Country is following a policy of Social Distancing in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Government is constantly updating its guidance in ensuring that the Country can appropriately react to the public health threats caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. In order for the County Council to be flexible enough to make the appropriate decisions to provide services to the public, the Council needs to consider revising the operation of its Governance arrangements for the immediate future. It is necessary to put in place arrangements that will allow good decision making to continue, provide public accountability but, just as importantly, to react to changing circumstances so that the Council, the public and Councillors can follow the Government’s guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing. The Government has stated that the guidance seeks to help reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the mounting pressure on the National Health Service. The public have already been asked to make a number of changes to everyday life to avoid unnecessary social contact.
The County Council therefore needs to reduce the number of public meetings and committee meetings over the next few months. The Government is considering making a number of changes to legislation and guidance which will, amongst other things, remove the requirement for annual council meetings to take place in person and allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period.
In the circumstances, the Council will cancel the majority of physical committee meetings until government guidance is issued to allow public meetings. The Council’s Constitution enables the Chief Executive “In cases of emergency to take any decision which could be taken by the Council, the Executive of a committee.” The Coronavirus pandemic is considered to be an emergency and therefore it is proposed to invoke these powers to enable the reduction of public meetings to take place. Where the Chief Executive (or his delegated nominee) considers it appropriate, consultation will take place with the relevant available members and officers before the Chief Executive makes a decision.
No other viable options at this time. The
position with regard to formal virtual meetings will be considered
if the legislation is enacted to allow this to take place and the
Council can meet the conditions that are imposed on this.
Publication date: 27/04/2021
Date of decision: 24/03/2020