Covid-19 changes to council committee meetings

Due to the current social distancing protocols our public meetings will now be streamed live on our YouTube channel.

Virtual committee meetings

We are introducing new virtual committees using webcasting while the public health emergency measures remain in place.

You can attend virtual committee meetings by watching the meetings on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

Details of how you can access the webcasting facility will be published on the council committee meeting pages. This service will temporarily replace the audio minute's service.

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Asking questions at a virtual committee meeting

You can still submit a written question for a committee meeting which, if accepted, will also enable you to ask a supplementary question. We will still provide written responses to members of the public questions by 5pm on the evening before the committee is scheduled to start.

If you have had a question accepted for the meeting, you can email supplementary questions to the committee clerk (this could be in the form of an email, a video or audio recording of your question) at councillorservices@herefordshire.gov.uk This must be received at least 90 minutes before the committee meeting.

The supplementary question will be played or read at the committee and the relevant cabinet member or officer will be asked to respond in the usual way - either by answering the question at the meeting, or by providing an undertaking to write back to the questioner with a written response.

We will record all responses to supplementary questions in the formal minutes of the committee meeting.

Decision making

Most of the council's executive decisions (those taken by Cabinet, a Cabinet Member or an officer under specific delegation) and our operational decisions (those taken by council officers under delegation) are likely to be able to progress in line with usual practices.

Our decisions will continue to be taken in the usual way - decision reports will be published (for five working days), the decisions will be taken and published and the call-in rules will still apply to our key and non-key decisions.

Officers will still continue to publish records of their decisions where our constitutional provisions require them to do so.

New legislation

These measures are now in place as a result of the current social distancing protocols the government passed The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.

Under normal legal rules local authorities should not hold public committees in private and without members being physically present in a council committee room.

However, local authorities can now:

  • Hold and alter the frequency and occurrence of meetings without requirement for further notice
  • Determine not to hold their annual meeting. If a council seeks to do this, current appointments will continue until the next annual meeting or when the local authority determines
  • Hold meetings remotely, including by (but not limited to) telephone conferencing, video conferencing, live webcast, and live interactive streaming
  • Permit public and press access to meetings and documents through similar remote access

 A new virtual meeting protocol has been produced that enables the council to be legally compliant with these new rules, it is available to download as a pdf