Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Town Hall, Maidenhead
Contact: Karen Shepherd 01628 796529
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Baldwin, Baskerville, Bateson, Bond, Bowden, Brar, Cannon, Carroll, Clark, Coppinger, W. Da Costa, Hilton, Hunt, Knowles, Price, Reynolds, Story, Targowski, Tisi, Walters
To receive any declarations of interest
To consider the above report
The Managing Director explained that the report had been brought forward following considerable concern from a number of Members across all parties about the continuation of public meetings during the current Covid-19 crisis, and the advice from government on limiting contact. The borough had a high number of care homes and elderly residents per capita and therefore the council needed to be fully aware about what it did as an organisation and show community leadership in how it reduced physical contact. Officers would not have wished to bring the report to Members given a number of difficulties, however the Local Government Act 1972 did not make any provision for councils to hold meetings without the public element of councillors being present in the room. Therefore there was no way of cancelling meetings and continuing to transact council business under the current legislation.
The government had committed to emergency legislation to amend the situation and allow virtual meetings to take place. It was hoped that the legislation would be in place quickly, however there would then be the issue of ensuring the technology was in place. Therefore even once legislation was in place there would be a few weeks before the council could move to virtual meetings.
The recommendations in the report would allow Members to cancel all scheduled meetings but still allow the important business to be transacted that would be unfair to local people if it were not to continue. This particularly related to decision-making responsibilities of committees and panels covering licensing and planning. All the existing mechanisms to allow those decisions to be taken would remain, including prior notification, the opportunity for objections to be submitted, consultation and publication of decisions. The only difference was that anything that would have been going to a panel for decision would be dealt with by an officer. The delegation in the recommendation was to the Managing Director but, if approved, he would immediately sub-delegate to the relevant qualified professional officers.
The majority of the council’s meetings were not decision-making meetings therefore they would simply be in abeyance for an indefinite period. The proposals did not change the arrangements for Cabinet meetings; those decisions could be delegated under current legislation to the Leader, an individual Cabinet Member or an officer. Cabinet meetings could still continue but it was likely that decisions would be taken by the relevant individual Cabinet Member thereby reducing the number of people required in a room to take the decision. These meetings would continue to be public meetings therefore members of the public could turn up to attend which could increase the number of people in a room but, from a council perspective, would limit the number of Members and officers required to be physically present to transact business. The report also did not affect the powers of full Council meetings as these powers could not be delegated. Whilst it cancelled all scheduled meetings, if a full Council meeting were required, one could be called.
There were a ... view the full minutes text for item 91.