Government must reinstate virtual meetings and remote decision making for local councils

January 10, 2022 5:00 PM

With continuing cases of Covid across Buckinghamshire and the Government encouraging people to work from home wherever possible, Aylesbury Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to reinstate council's abilities to hold virtual meetings for all purposes including decision making.

Earlier in the pandemic emergency legislation was put in place to allow councils to meet and vote virtually however the Government refused to extend the legislation after 7th May. Since then, only advisory meetings can take place remotely.

While the situation has improved, the R rate for Covid-19 remains high. Multiple NHS trusts have declared critical incidents and just last week Buckinghamshire Council cancelled some Bin Collections due to staff shortages.

Due to concerns about public safety, lawyers in local government and the Association of Democracy Services Officers have launched a petition for councils to have the choice to meet remotely.

Cllr Steven Lambert, Liberal Democrat Group Leader at Buckinghamshire Council, said:

"As councillors, we are elected by local residents to work to improve our communities - part of that requires us to be able to meet and make decisions. As a result of the Government's refusal to allow virtual meetings and remote decision making, we find ourselves in the unacceptable situation where councillors are having to choose between ensuring democracy happens and keeping ourselves and others safe.

"We know that virtual meetings work - we had them throughout 2020 - and we should be allowed to return to them given that Government guidance is to work from home wherever possible."