For Councils in England to have the choice to meet remotely

For Councils in England to have the choice to meet remotely

11,094 have signed. Let’s get to 15,000!
ADSO/LLG started this petition to UK Government and Parliament

Currently, local councils in England cannot hold their meetings remotely. This was temporarily relaxed during the covid lockdown in 2020/21 but that ended in April 2021 when the temporary statutory regulations expired. The Government has argued that a permanent provision would require a change to primary legislation and there is not sufficient Parliamentary time to enable this to happen. The Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) made an application to the High Court (supported by the Government, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC)) that existing legislation allowed for that permanent provision. The High Court disagreed, saying that it was for Parliament to change the law. Since then, LLG and ADSO, together with other similar organisations (plus individual councils and councillors) have been lobbying the Government without success. The LGA and NALC have also been supporting councils throughout this time.
We do not wish to impose remote meetings on councils. They should have the choice to decide how they run their meetings depending on local circumstances. They know best.

The period of lockdown showed that remote meetings bring so many benefits to local democracy and residents, apart from the obvious public health safeguards. It is no longer just a response to Covid.

Local democracy benefitted from:
·        Increased attendances at remote meetings by both councillors and the public
·        Significant cost savings for some authorities arising from much less travel to meetings
·        The environmental benefits of less travel, particularly in the large county authorities
·        A better work/life balance for councillors
·        Improved equality of access to meetings for all and opening up opportunities for more people to stand for election as councillors
·        More transparency and openness for the public to see council meetings
·        An option to move meetings online when there are constraints, for example bad weather such as snow or flooding.

A recent post on social media received 100 responses of which 98 supported the option of remote meetings. Whilst this is a very small sample, we are confident it is representative of the general feeling across the country.

We therefore call on the government to create Parliamentary time to agree a change in the law to allow councils in England to meet remotely if they wish.

11,094 have signed. Let’s get to 15,000!