Letter on end of virtual meetings

Liberal Democrats SLAM Government's decision to end remote meetings for local government.


Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP Secretary of State and Rt Hon Luke Hall MP
Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Fry Building 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF

Dear Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP & Rt Hon Luke Hall MP

We write to you as Liberal Democrat Leaders and Group Leaders on councils across England. The government’s decision not to extend legislation allowing councils to meet flexibly after May 7th 2021 is wrong and should be reversed as a matter of urgency.

Local councils across the country have worked hard to ensure that virtual meetings are accessible and inclusive, with many examples of increased public participation since their inception. We take the public health of our residents, employees, and elected members very seriously, and have grave concerns over the practical and health implications of what the government is proposing. Praising the work of local councils in your letter as “magnificent” is meaningless if poorly thought-through decisions such as these are dictated to local authorities, with zero consultation or input.

And we know this opposition extends beyond our party – we agree with the Conservative Chair of the LGA who has been very clear in his statement: “This decision is extremely disappointing. The Government’s own roadmap out of lockdown states that indoor gatherings or events - organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation - cannot be organised until May 17 at the earliest. Yet councils will be unable to hold remote meetings from May 7. MPs will retain the right to participate remotely until at least June 21 but the powers-that-be in the House of Commons will not make time available to legislate for councillors to do the same.”

We call on you to allow councils to choose on this matter and are happy to meet with you or your officials to discuss how this can be done.

Yours,

Jerry Roodhouse, Opposition Leader, Warwickshire and Rugby Borough 

Lucy Nethsingha, Opposition Leader, Cambridgeshire

Stuart Bray, Leader, , Hinckley & Bosworth 

Mike Bell, Deputy Leader, North Somerset Council 

Bridget Smith, Leader, South Cambs DC

James MacCleary, Leader, Lewes District Council

Ian Shires, Opposition Leader, Walsall Council 

Bob Smytherman, Opposition Leader, Worthing Borough 

Cllr Ben J Martin, Cabinet member for Housing/ Group Leader, Swale Borough Council 

Chris Stanbra, Lib Dem Group Leader, Northamptonshire County Council, North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority

Christopher  Holley, Opposition Leader, Swansea City Council 

Keith Aspden, Leader, City of York Council

Keith Baldry, Opposition Leader, South Hams District Council

Cllr Mark Cory , Leader, Colchester Borough Council

Keith House, Leader, Eastleigh Borough Council

David Worden, Leader, North Devon Council

Sarah Nelmes , Leader, Three Rivers District Council

Richard Kemp, Opposition Leader, Liverpool

Luke Cawley-Harrison, Opposition Leader, London Borough of Haringey

Dr James Walsh, Leader, Arun District

Dr James Walsh, Opposition Leader, West Sussex CC

Richard Flemming, Borough Councillor, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Cllr John McKay, A hardworking councillor., South Hams District Council

Allan Knox, Opposition Leader, Ribble Valley Borough Council 

Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader, London Borough of Sutton

Councillor Kris Brown, Opposition spokesperson. Candidate for Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, Liverpool City Council

Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Opposition Leader, Hertfordshire County Council 

Stephen Giles-Medhurst , Deputy Leader, Three Rivers Council 

Amanda Hopgood, Opposition Leader, Durham County Council

Joe Harris, Leader, Cotswold District Council 

Phil Gilchrist, Lib Dem Group Leader, Wirral

Alan Tormey, Councillor, Liverpool

Roger Hayes, Opposition Leader, Bolton Metropolitan Borough

Stewart Golton, Group Leader, Leeds City Council

Julie Morris, Opposition Leader, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council

Cllr Margaret Ratcliffe, Opposition Leader, Halton Borough 

Howard Sykes, Vice Chair and Lib Dem Leader at the LGA, Oldham 

Ben Chapelard, Opposition Leader, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Donald Whyte, Group Leader, Runnymede Borough Council

Penny Otton, Opposition Leader, Suffolk County Council

David Whipp, Deputy Leader, Pendle Borough Council

Caroline Kerr, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston

Sandra Dunn, Leader, Spelthorne Borough Council

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, Opposition Leader, Wokingham Borough Council

Rod Fletcher, Opposition Leader, Cheshire East

Cllr Paul Clark, Deputy Leader, North Hertfordshire District Council

Peter Thornton, Deputy Leader, Cumbria County Council

Ros Wyke, Leader, Mendip District Council

Cllr. David Franks, Opposition Leader, Luton Borough Council

Barry O'Leary, Deputy Leader, Mendip District Council

Alison Barnes, Deputy Leader, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

Emily Smith, Leader, Vale of White Horse District Council

Liz Tucker, Group Leader, Worcestershire County Council
 
Cllr Celia Dowden , Opposition Leader, Test Valley Borough Council 

Cllr Alan Dowden, Councillor , Hampshire County Council 

Cllr Anita OakleyBA(Hons) MA, Opposition Leader, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Cllr Fran Oborski MBE, LibDem Group Leader, Wyre Forest District Council

Cllr Nick Ireland, Opposition Leader, Dorset

Robert Barr, Opposition Leader, Warrington Borough Council

Cllr Peter Snelling, Opposition Leader, Central Bedfordshire Council

Pat Marsh, Opposition Leader, Harrogate Borough Council

Cllr Paul Follows, Deputy Leader, Waverley Borough Council

David Tutt, Leader, Eastbourne Borough Council

Claire Young, Opposition Leader, South Gloucestershire Council

Maggie Tyrrell, Opposition Deputy Leader, South Gloucestershire Council

Cllr Douglas McCall , Group Leader , Milton Keynes Council 

Peter Taylor , Elected Mayor, Watford Borough Council 

Stephen Robinson, Leader, Chelmsford City Council

Andy Graham, Opposition Leader, West Oxfordshire District

Chris Brown, Opposition Leader, South Norfolk Council

Carole Storey, Committee member, Liverpool

David Gulland, Councillor, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council

Dine Romero, Leader, Bath & North East Somerset Council

Anne-Marie Curry, Minority Opposition Leader, Darlington Borough Council

Sarah Butikofer, Leader, North Norfolk District Council

Jon Hunt, Group leader, Birmingham City Council

Lucille Thompson, Leader, Winchester City Council

Ricky Duveen, Opposition Leader, Reading

David Howarth, Group Leader, South Ribble Borough

Mayor Dave Hodgson, Leader, Bedford Borough Council

Lorna Dupre, Opposition Leader, East Cambridgeshire District Council

Chris White, Leader, St Albans City & District

Susan Prochak, Deputy Leader, Rother District Council

Cllr Alan Connett, Leader, Teignbridge District Council

Susan Juned, Opposition Leader, Stratford on Avon District Council

Virginia Taylor, Leader, Eden District Council

Eileen Wragg, Liberal Democrat Group in Alliance with others, East Devon District Council

Mary Marshall, Deputy Leader, Elmbridge 

Giles Archibald, Leader, South Lakeland District Council

Adrian Moss, Opposition Leader, Chichester District Council

Peter Harris, Chair of Town Environment Committee Southwell, Southwell Town Council