Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Graham Walton  020 8461 7743

Items
No. Item

11.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

12.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

13.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 19 MARCH 2020 pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18th March 2020 be confirmed.

14.

REMOTE/VIRTUAL MEETINGS RULES AND PROCEDURES pdf icon PDF 344 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD20063

 

This report was considered as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that effective decision making could continue whilst democratic accountability was preserved during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

On 19th March 2020, the Urgency Committee and a special meeting of the Executive agreed decision making arrangements for the rest of the Municipal year in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  At the time of the meetings Local Authorities were unable to hold remote or virtual meetings.  However the Government had since passed the Coronavirus Act 2020 and The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020  which authorised holding remote meetings as long as certain criteria were met.  The regulations were time limited and only applied to meetings taking place before 7th May 2021.

 

The measures were designed to help local authorities redeploy their resources to deal with the pandemic and ensure essential business continued whilst upholding democratic principles and protecting the health and safety of members, officers and the public in line with official public health guidance.

 

At present, remote meetings were the only option for Member decisions where a meeting was required as the ability to undertake remote meetings made it extremely difficult to argue that even meetings where social distancing was practised complied with the exceptions in regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations 2020 (as amended), which permitted individuals to leave their homes and regulation 7 which prohibited gatherings of more than 2 people save in the most exceptional circumstances.

 

The Director of Corporate Services provided an overview of the report highlighting the importance of establishing “ground rules” which provided a fair and transparent process balancing democracy with the inherent restrictions of virtual meetings.  The retention of meetings of the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS (ERC PDS) Committee would ensure accountability and public scrutiny within the decision making process.  In relation to the meetings that were scheduled to take place in May 2020, the Director of Corporate Services noted that the General Purposes and Licensing Committee would meet to consider a single issue.  The Special Council meeting that had been scheduled would be cancelled as it was no longer needed following the decision taken by the Government to extend the deadline for submission of accounts.  Looking into June 2020, PDS meetings would not take place however, Members would still have the opportunity, through other mechanisms such as email and conference call, to scrutinise any urgent Portfolio Holder decisions that may be required during this time.  ERC PDS would continue to meet and would perform the Council’s key scrutiny function.

 

In opening the discussion the Leader sought assurances that efforts would be made to facilitate public presence and participation when more controversial planning applications were considered and discussed, citing the Porcupine/Lidl application in Mottingham as an example.  In response the Director of Corporate Services acknowledged that however transparent the Council made remote meetings it would not be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

 

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