With the relaxation of lockdown we have received increased enquiries about the possibility of holding hybrid council meetings. We recognise that this is a fast moving constantly changing area requiring local determination to suit local circumstances.
Our Former Chair Lord Porter asked Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to amend the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 to allow local councils in England to return to physical meetings while maintaining social distancing; and whether any proposed amendments to the regulations will include a hybrid form of meeting. (HL5546)
The Minister of State for Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) responded on the 23 June 2020: The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 enable all local authority meetings to be held remotely and do not preclude physical meetings or a hybrid form of meeting where these can be held in accordance with public health regulations and guidance. It is for each local authority to determine what is appropriate in their specific circumstances, taking legal advice as necessary (HL/5546).
Centre for Public Scrutiny
COVID-19 Guide 1: behaviour and etiquette for remote meetings
This is the first of five guides for councillors (and those supporting them) on managing some of the challenges associated with carrying out their governance roles during the COVID-19 crisis.
It focuses on the challenge for councillors associated with decision-making and scrutiny using remote meetings. It complements detailed guidance produced by the Association of Democratic Services Officers and Lawyers in Local Government on the remote working Regulations.
Guidance on safe use of council buildings
In relation to meetings, 3c states: “We continue to recommend that where meetings can take place digitally, without the need for face-to-face contact, they should do so. Where council buildings need to be used for physical meetings, these meetings must be managed within the social distancing guidance and principles.”