Cheshire East Council is being asked to back a national petition by local authority officers for the government to allow remote and hybrid meetings when necessary.

At the moment councils in England cannot hold remote meetings. This was temporarily relaxed during the Covid lockdown in 2020/21 but that ended in April 2021.

The Lawyers in Local Government (LLG)  and Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO,) together with other similar organisations, individual councils and councillors, have been lobbying the government without success to allow remote meetings.

The petition states: “We do not wish to impose remote meetings on councils. They should have the choice to decide how they run their meetings depending on local circumstances. They know best.”

Cheshire East leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) and deputy Craig Browne (Ind) are now asking for the council to back the petition so it has the option of holding remote meetings.

 

Winsford Guardian:

Deputy council leader Cllr Craig Browne 

 

Their notice of motion, which will go before the full council on Thursday, states: “We agree to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities calling on the government to change the law to allow councils the flexibility to hold such meetings when they deem appropriate within agreed rules and procedures.”

The petition states the benefits  include increased attendances at remote meetings by both councillors and the public; significant cost savings for some authorities arising from much less travel to meetings; the environmental benefits of less travel, particularly in the large county authorities, and improved equality of access to meetings for all and opening up opportunities for more people to stand for election as councillors.

It also says there is more transparency and openness for the public to see council meetings.

As reported previously by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cheshire East Council saved more than £920,000 on staff mileage claims in the 2020/21 financial year because of the pandemic, with over 1.2m fewer miles being claimed compared to 2019.

Some of these savings would have been because meetings were held remotely under the temporary law.

The motion is expected to be debated by full council at its meeting on Thursday, February 24, which takes at Crewe Lifestyle Centre at 3pm.