Decision Maker: Full Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 13.1, Councillor P. Harris moved and Councillor M. Brock seconded a motion to the following effect:
“Many of Newark and Sherwood’s Councillors live quite a distance from Newark. For some it is an hour's round trip to attend a committee meeting. It isn’t always easy, particularly during winter time, to attend all the meetings because of inclement weather and work commitments. There are meetings in the morning, afternoon and evening with some time inbetween. That time is not wasted if Members are able to attend remotely from home.
Newark & Sherwood District Council has declared a climate emergency, and by attending meetings via Teams or Zoom we are not driving and using non-renewable
resources, but are cutting down on our carbon footprint – a priority of this Council. Virtual meetings have saved the Council a considerable amount of money during this financial year, for example, travel expenses have been very much reduced. As we are facing a significant short fall in funding for the foreseeable future any saving is helpful.
Councillors wish to attend the District Council committees but are also keen to attend meetings of the Parish Councils within their wards. Some are also County Councillors and inevitably there is often a clash of dates. This means that Councillors have to choose which to attend. The result is less engagement with the District Council, or the County Council or the Parish Councils. Having remote meetings means that Councillors can more easily attend most of the meetings, to the advantage of all the Councils.
The engagement of the public and press has also generally increased (the exception probably being the Planning Committee). The level of reporting about Council business has increased as physical meetings no longer attracted the local press due to cutbacks in their staff. For some Councillors who have work commitments, mobility issues or are carers remote meetings have been easier for them to attend. This may well help to attract a wider age range of potential Councillors in future elections.
This Council would like to have the flexibility to hold remote and physical meetings. We recognise that some meetings are better dealt with physically and we also recognise that perhaps a hybrid model could also work successfully.
Councillor Blaney proposed, and Councillor Lloyd seconded an amendment to reflect the recent dismissal of the appeal hearing and updated the proposed actions of the Council accordingly.
1. Notes the recent High Court judgement on on-line and hybrid council meetings.
2. Welcomes the Government’s clear wish to give Councils the option to hold meetings on-line and its current Call for Evidence, to which this Council has responded already through the Councillors’ Commission; and
3. Writes to its two Members of Parliament asking for their continued support for this flexible approach to Council meetings.”
Given the recent announcements by the Government in respect of remote meetings and High Court judgement, points 1 to 3 above were agreed as wording to replace the original motion text, which were supported by the proposer and seconder.
The motion, on being put to the vote was declared carried unanimously.
Publication date: 06/09/2021
Date of decision: 04/05/2021
Decided at meeting: 04/05/2021 - Full Council