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Can a chair or clerk decide exclusively whether online meetings are held

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asked by (210 points)

4 Answers

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No for the Clerk, who  does not have any delegated decision making powers and no for the chair where regular scheduled meetings are concerned.
However, the Chair has the right to unilaterally call an extraordinary meeting or extraordinary general meeting, so in theory he/she could set up an online meeting under the revised 2020 regulations. This could apply to two other councillors as well.

That said, a significant number of cllrs could refuse to attend on the basis they don't have the appropriate technology to participate, and potentially make the meeting non quorate.
answered by (13.8k points)
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The clerk can have delegated decision making powers if the council has approved them.  Again, what is the alternative as councils are not allowed to meet in person at this time and decisions have to be made....?
I can't imagine very  many authorities have changed their  SO' s that empower the clerk to instruct members to attend an online meeting of any kind. The clerk could request or recommend that members attend an online meeting though.. If enough agreed and a qourate meeting takes place, first business on the summons should be to agree some forthcoming on line meetings.
+1 vote
Personally I’d think this is a decision that should be made by all Councillors if not what’s the point of the public electing them ?

I’m sure that some Parishes will find it hard to get enough tech savvy Councillors  to make an online meeting quorate
I’m hoping the ease of access to online meetings will produce a surge in interest but I’m sure lots of Parishes won’t encourage the public logging in
answered by (1.9k points)
+2 votes
What is the alternative?
Ideally the Clerk and Chair should consult and consult with the remaining councillors and a decision made.  But if you don't have online meetings, then the only other option at this time is to delegate additional powers to the Clerk in order that the council continues to run.  I would suggest that is less democratic and transparent.

The Clerk has to lead this type of situation as it would be the clerk who has to organise the meetings so if they are confident that online meetings are appropriate and suit the IT situation of the councillors, then it is a simple decision to make.
answered by (11.5k points)
+2 votes

The government has issued supplementary regulations that allow for meetings to be held online and also provides for postponement of annual meetings and such like. They are found at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/392/contents/made

By and large, the old rules can still apply. That is to say meetings according to an agreed schedule go ahead as planned, with the clerk issuing the agenda and supporting documents. Clearly these will need to include details of how to join the online meetings. As others have mentioned, there is also the power for the chairman or two councillors to call an extraordinary meeting.

It should be feasible for all councillors to attend an online meeting, and to open it to the press and public. While it may be that not everyone will be able to set up a computer, smartphone or tablet to join a meeting, most systems also provide for participation entirely by telephone. There must be very few people who cannot gain access to either a telephone or a digital device. It is then up to the chairman to find ways to ensure that every council member is able to participate in the meeting and to vote.

answered by (28.4k points)

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