The Government has revealed that it is ‘carefully considering’ the experience of local authorities who have used the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 to hold meetings virtually and is looking at the possibility of enabling local councils to meet remotely on a permanent basis.
The indication of government thinking came following a question from East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight who asked the government if they would launch a formal consultation and a call for evidence ‘to assess the levels of public support for permanently enabling virtual participation to take place in all council meetings.’
The MP said the power for councils to hold virtual meetings comes to an end on the 7th May this year unless it is renewed by Parliament.
Sir Greg said: ‘In my view, it should be a matter for councils themselves to decide how their meetings are held and they should have the ability to use the latest technology available, if they so wish.
Greg adds: ‘There is evidence that holding virtual meetings has led to a heightened level of interest in council meetings from members of the public and I believe it is an option that councils should have available to them to use beyond 7th May this year. I am therefore urging the government to extend the provision to allow such council meetings to be held, where desired, on a permanent basis.’
The news that the government was reviewing the policy was announced by Communities and Local Government Minister, Luke Hall MP.