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Democracy and meetings

Last Updated 4:23pm, 1 June 2020


Introduction

Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

New guidance for Council meetings

The Council has now received guidance in the form of the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations which permits remote attendance in Local Authority meetings.

Remote attendance is permitted as long as certain conditions are satisfied. These include that the member is able to hear and be heard by the other members in attendance. Also, being able to hear and be heard by any members of the public entitled to attend the meeting (in line with the public participation scheme).

A visual solution is preferred, but audio is sufficient.

This also relates to members of the public attending the meeting also being heard.

Devon County Council meetings

In view of this new guidance, a number of key meetings (Cabinet, scrutiny and a number of regulatory bodies) will be going ahead remotely using Microsoft Teams.

Members of the press and public are welcome at any such meetings and we would ask that any interested parties contact the clerk of that meeting or email committee@devon.gov.uk.

A new meetings protocol has been produced to show how meetings will run under these new regulations.

The Annual Meeting of the Council was postponed from the original date of 14 May, but all business relating to the AGM has been moved to 23 July and this meeting will go ahead via remote means.

Currently, there is advice to Local Authorities that hybrid meetings are unlawful as the COVID regulations presently stand. The reasoning relates to the exemptions from the general prohibition on gatherings of more than 2 people indoors and a Local Authority hybrid meeting does not satisfy the exemptions.

Future meetings will continue to take place remotely, but future working practices will of course be reflective of advice at the time and in line with any safety and / or social distancing requirements.

We also have a number of other Committee meetings throughout June and July. The Council will still look to assess each of these meetings to see if the meeting should go ahead remotely to determine any key business or whether the meeting should be postponed and that non-essential business is rolled over to a later date.

A full round of scrutiny meetings will take place in June as well as the Devon Education Forum, Investment and Pension Fund Committee and also a Cabinet meeting in July.

However, it is worth noting that the current Scrutiny work programme has been put on hold at this time as the authority prioritises the covid-19 pandemic.

The Calendar of meetings on the Democracy website will be kept fully up to date.

If there are any questions or queries please email committee@devon.gov.uk.


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