'Disappointment' over ruling to stop virtual council meetings

The decision to stop virtual council and committee meetings is "disappointing", according to a town council in Shropshire.

The Guildhall, where Ludlow Town Council is based. Photo: Google StreetView.
The Guildhall, where Ludlow Town Council is based. Photo: Google StreetView.

Ludlow Town Council lamented the government decision not to renew the coronavirus legislation that had permitted virtual council and committee meetings to take place.

The council said has considered the risks of in-person meetings, and decided that until it is safe for councillors, staff and the public to attend lengthy in-person public meetings again, only decisions that cannot be delegated to the town clerk will be made at socially distanced in-person council meetings at the Methodist Church in Broad Street.

In order to stay safe and act within the law, all other meetings will be held virtually under emergency delegated authority.

In the interests of transparency, the council has decided that the virtual meetings will retain all the elements of good governance including public accessibility, and councillor debate resulting in majority agreement to be actioned under delegated authority. The actions taken under delegated authority will be published on the council’s website.

Newly elected Mayor of Ludlow, Councillor Robin Pote, said: "The town council has joined the national lobby to ask government to reinstate legal virtual meetings, and permit councils to decide when to use them in addition to in-person meetings.

"The many benefits of virtual meetings have included shorter meetings, less travelling, more efficient use of time; and the flexibility of virtual meetings could encourage younger people to get involved in their local councils.

"Improving the diversity of local councils should be considered as a very positive step forward for the whole community."

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