Decision details

*Re-published: call-in no longer applies* Members’ attendance at meetings during Covid19 pandemic

Decision Maker: Chief Executive Officer

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No



a) matters pertaining to the Covid19 pandemic be an approved reason for any Member’s failure to attend meetings of the Council for a period of six consecutive months from the date of their last attendance and for it not counting towards the operation of the automatic vacation of office provisions set out in section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972; and

b) that this approved reason be reviewed by the end of October 2020; and

therefore Members will not automatically lose their position by not attending meetings during this period.

Reasons for the decision:

*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.*

Decision taken by Richard Flinton, Chief Executive Officer, under his emergency delegated powers and in consultation the Leader and Group Leaders.

Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his/her last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, s/he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority.

Under his delegated decision making powers in the Officers’ Delegation Scheme in the Council’s Constitution, the Chief Executive Officer has power, in cases of emergency, to take any decision which could be taken by the Council, the Executive or a committee.

On 7 April 2020, the Chief Executive Officer agreed (Decision record 2020/CEO Emergency Powers/14), amongst other things, that subject to the successful adoption of a technological solution that enables the requirements laid out in the relevant regulations to be complied with, virtual meetings be introduced for the following committees (where the business either relates to the work being done by the Council in response to the Coronavirus pandemic or where a decision cannot be deferred for a compelling reason): Executive; Planning and Regulatory functions; Audit; and a sub-committee of the Pension Fund Committee. Only the Executive to meet as scheduled. The Planning and Regulatory Functions committee to meet as required to deal with urgent planning applications, Audit Committee would similarly only meet if required to make an urgent decision and Pension Fund Committee would form a sub-group to make decisions relating to changes in investment performance. All other formal, public committee meetings would be postponed until September 2020.

Whilst certain meetings are going to be held remotely, not all Members will be able to attend a formal virtual meeting. Most Members have been attending informal meetings but this is not considered under Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972. It is therefore deemed appropriate, given the unprecedented Covid19 pandemic circumstances and Government guidelines on social distancing, for Members to be excused from attending meetings for six consecutive months without them automatically being disqualified from being a councillor under the legislation, for reasons arising out of the pandemic. This would recognise and comply with Government guidance on social distancing, ensure democratic openness and accountability in decision making whilst also taking account of the other important activities undertaken by Members in helping their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Publication date: 28/04/2021

Date of decision: 05/06/2020