Council meetings cancelled in response to coronavirus

Dozens of council meetings have been scrapped in response to the coronavirus crisis with most decision-making likely to be handed to officials.

Brighton and Hove City Council has also put back the mayor-making until September – the ceremony when Green councillor Alex Phillips is due to hand over the civic chain and robes to Labour councillor Alan Robins. He will, though, take over the role in May.

Two meetings of the full council are still scheduled to take place to make time-sensitive decisions.

The first of those is on Thursday 2 April and the second will be the annual council meeting on Thursday 14 May which is expected to be brief.

A report about the emergency measures is due to be considered by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee at Hove Town Hall tomorrow (Thursday 19 March).

It said: “The situation has escalated significantly over the last three days with new guidance and advice from government and Public Health England.

“One of the areas of concern is the risk posed by large gatherings where people may spend time in close proximity for an extended period (15 minutes or more.)

“Meetings of full council and committees, therefore, need to be considered to ensure that they are necessary and proportionate and that all steps are taken to minimise risk.”

The full council meetings could go ahead with just 14 out of the 54 members of the council being required to attend.

Senior Labour, Green and Conservative councillors are expected to agree numbers in advance.

Officials are also looking at what decisions have to made in the coming six months to see which ones could wait until September.

The council is likely to use urgency powers, with officials making many of the day-to-day decisions in consultation with senior councillors.

It may also hold virtual meetings using video conferencing or tools such as Skype so that debate can take place when key decisions have to be made.

The moves to limit the number, size and duration of meetings in the council chamber at Hove Town Hall follow a government announcement on Monday (16 March).

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick called for reductions in “non-essential” tasks at local government level to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

He told councils to focus on social care, supporting the vulnerable and their local economy.

The public can watch webcasts of meetings at aisapps.sonicfoundry.com/AuditelScheduler/CreateSchedules/Past/20.

 

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    How will this affect Planning? Recommendations are often overturned by the Committee.

    I am also concerned that this could lead to the Libraries Plan being pushed through regardless – and the Public Survey period still has about a month to run. The terrible winter of 2015/16 showed that Councillor vigilance is essential on this front.

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