West Norfolk Council 'plans to keep streaming meetings online', despite court ruling
West Norfolk Council officials have insisted they want to continue streaming meetings online, despite the impending prospect of proceedings returning to the chamber.
A recent High Court ruling means county, district and parish authorities will be obliged to hold face to face meetings again from the end of this week, unless the government steps in before then.
But the need to enable social distancing is likely to mean councils will need much larger venues than normal, to accommodate both members and, potentially, the public.
A borough spokesman said: “Several options are currently being considered as to where and how to hold borough council meetings.
“Covid control measures will be in place at the venue and we plan to continue to stream the meetings for members of the public to watch on our YouTube channel.”
The headache has been caused by the decision to allow the temporary powers which enabled councils to meet remotely to lapse without extending them.
The borough council is one of several authorities which has streamed meetings via YouTube during the pandemic.
And the first meeting which is due to be held under the new guidance is a cabinet session which is currently scheduled for next Monday, May 10.
The borough has already pushed back the traditional mayormaking ceremony by a week to Thursday, May 20, though officials maintain that is not connected to the court’s decision.
It is hoped that restrictions on indoor gatherings will be further eased from May 17 under the latest review of the govermnent’s roadmap for exiting lockdown, although a final decision on that is subject to a review to take place over the next few days.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Local Councils, which represents town and parish authorities, has urged ministers to act quickly this week to pass new legislation which the court ruled was necessary to enable remote meetings to continue.
They argue that the return to face to face meetings presents an unnecessary health risk.