High Court delivers judgement on remote meetings for local government

It was announced on Wednesday that the High Court has ruled against Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Hertfordshire County Council and their bid to enable local councils to continue meeting remotely was dismissed by the High Court.

The court concluded that:

“…. the Secretary of State was correct in November 2016 and July 2019 to say that primary legislation would be required to allow local authority “meetings” under the 1972 Act to take place remotely. In our view, once the Flexibility Regulations cease to apply, such meetings must take place at a single, specified geographical location; attending a meeting at such a location means physically going to it; and being “present” at such a meeting involves physical presence at that location. We recognise that there are powerful arguments in favour of permitting remote meetings. But, as the consultation documents show, there are also arguments against doing so. The decision whether to permit some or all local authority meetings to be conducted remotely, and if so, how, and subject to what safeguards, involves difficult policy choices on which there is likely to be a range of competing views. These choices have been made legislatively for Scotland by the Scottish Parliament and for Wales by the Senedd. In England, they are for Parliament, not the courts”. The judgement can be viewed here.

The Parish Council is making preparations to resume physical meetings once Step 3 of the Government’s Roadmap is implemented which is anticipated to be 17 May as planned. As the legislatiion (The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 (“the 2020 Regulations”) which allows remote meetings for local government to take place ceases to apply after 6 May, there will be no meetings of the Council or its committees between 7 May and 17 May 2021.

Please therefore check all agendas for details as to where each meeting will now be held.  A full of meetings  of the Parish Council and its committees can be found at the following webpage: Meeting Dates 2021 - 2022.