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Coronavirus advice for local councils

CORONAVIRUS – MEETINGS AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS AND PARISH MEETINGS

We are obviously receiving questions about the impact of the virus and particularly relative to some events/actions that councils need to take in the coming months.

This morning we have received information from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) that it is engaging with the Smaller Authorities' Audit Appointments and with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on the following:

·Holding of statutory meetings – such as annual parish/town/village meetings and the annual meeting of the council;

·Audit deadlines;

·Elections deadlines (if the elections are not delayed). Plus, impact/implications if they are delayed;

·Democratic decision making eg if councils are unable to be quorate for an extended period of time. This includes the question of phone/online attendance.

Annual Parish meetings have to be held by 1 June so that may give some scope to postpone them for a while. The annual meeting of a council must be held in May and we now await further advice from NALC following its discussions with MHCLG.

NALC has published advice/information which we encourage you to read and circulate to all councillors – this is attached and can also be found at: https://www.nalc.gov.uk/coronavirus This advice will be updated as things progress. The paper refers to NALC Legal Topic Note 5 which is also attached for your information.

Councils should be thinking carefully about business continuity, particularly important aspects of business that must be done even if a council is unable to hold a meeting. Remember that at a meeting, a council can delegate the making of decisions to an officer, ie the Clerk and/or the Responsible Financial Officer. Such business will include the payment of salaries and financial undertakings but your council also needs to apply thought to other delegations that can be given to the officer(s) to ensure that the Council keeps running smoothly and does not incur liabilities. Additionally, don't forget to consider what would happen if a critical member of staff had to be absent. There is obviously a degree of reasonableness and common sense to be applied to this unusual situation as well.

YLCA will be sending out separate guidance shortly about the virus and employment related matters that may impact your council.

Posted: Fri, 13 Mar 2020 14:04 by YLCA Admin

Tags: Coronavirus, YLCA