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”) come in to force on 4 April. Broadly speaking, the 2020 Regulations enable local councils to hold remote meetings (including by video and telephone conferencing) for a specified period until May next year. They also remove the requirement to hold an annual meeting. The 2020 Regulations apply to local council meetings, committee and sub-committee meetings in England. Separate legislation is anticipated for Wales.
The COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic and the unprecedented in peacetime Government measures in response to the crisis (e.g. prohibitions on gatherings, social distancing, self-isolation and shielding of those deemed to be the most vulnerable) have meant that the requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person with all members present in one place cannot be met. The statutory requirements for meetings are mainly contained in the Local Government Act 1972 (“the 1972 Act”) and the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 (“the 1960 Act”).
In recognition of the problem of holding and attending meetings, and further to the lobbying of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and others, the Government included s.78 in the Coronavirus Act 2020. This section gave the Secretary of State the power to make Regulations to make provisions for the holding of meetings. The 2020 Regulations set out those provisions.
NALC’s Briefing note: L01-20 | THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND POLICE AND CRIME PANELS (CORONAVIRUS) (FLEXIBILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY AND POLICE AND CRIME PANEL MEETINGS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2020 provides clarity under Regulation 2 and Regulation 4 – with regards to appointments made at the Annual Council Meeting held in May.
Regulation 4 - provides that where an appointment would otherwise be made or is required to be made at an annual meeting of a local authority, the appointment continues until the next annual meeting of the authority or until such time as that authority may determine (Regulation 4 (2).
Regulation 6 – confirms that being present at a local council meeting includes being present through remote attendance. The Regulation also disapplies paragraph 7 of Schedule 12 to the 1972 Act. This means there is no requirement for a parish council to hold its annual meeting (for the year 2020).
As such, under delegated powers, the Proper Officer to the Council confirms that the following appointments will remain current until an annual meeting is held (possibly next year) unless the council decides to elect replacements earlier:
Roles undertaken by Councillors - 2020 - 2021
Councillors Dashper, Haley, Rainbow and West are the members of the Policy and Resources Committee.
Councillors Rainbow, Morris, Thurlbourn, Towers and West are the members of the Emergency Planning Committee.
Councillors Dashper, Haley, Morris, Rainbow and West are the members of the Planning Committee.
Councillors Turner, Cornell, Haley, Hay, Morris and Thurlbourn are members of the Climate Awareness and Environment Committee.
As the Parish Council is the custodian trustee of the New Green Centre, 6 trustees are appointed by the Parish Council to the Trust which operates the centre.
The play equipment installed and managed by the council and sited at both the New Green Centre and Heath Road is monitored by the Councillors of the Recreational Facilities Committee.
As the Parish Council is the Corporate Trustee for Thurston Recreation Ground, 5 Councillors have been appointed to the Recreational Facilities Committee to manage the playing field and pavilion at Church Road as well as the other community open space play areas in the village. Councillors Rainbow (Chair); Haley; Morris; Turner and West are the parish council appointed members of the committee.
All Councillors are invited to attend the quartertly meetings of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils.
Councillor West represents the Parish Council on the Thurston Community College Forum and Councillors Haley and Hay on Thurston Library Group.
Councillor Morris represents the Parish Council on the Cavendish Hall Trust.
Councillor Rainbow is the Council's Internal Audit Control Officer and carries out quarterly reviews of the system of internal control.
Councillors Dashper, Morris and West are the Parish Council's authorised signatories.
Councillor Morris is the Parish Council appointed Footpath Warden and Tree Warden.
Mrs Jannette Service & Mrs Irene Churchus are the Parish Council appointed Thurston Relief in Need Charity Representatives.
Councillor Morris is the Parish Council appointed Local Recorder for Thurston.
Terms of Reference for Council's Committees
Contacting the Parish Clerk during COVID-19
Effective Friday 15 January 2021, the Parish Clerk and Deputy Clerk will be in the Parish Council Office between the hours of 10.30am and 3.30pm. For the remainer of the week, staff will be working away from the office. To ensure that questions from the public are answered during this period, all enquiries should be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by making use of the office mobile telephone: 07579 211938.