The government has told councils to start meeting again from May.
Interim regulations permitted local authorities to hold remote meetings using facilities such as “zoom”. Now they will have to get together in a room with efforts being made to accommodate members of the public.
Unfortunately work on York’s Guildhall is far from complete so meetings may reconvene at the Citadel building in Gillygate.
The York Council was one of the pioneers a decade ago in live streaming meetings so the recent introduction of on line access was less of an innovation than it was for some authorities.
The on-line format has been criticised for producing a sterile atmosphere with the cut and trust of debate missing from the decision making process.
Emergency powers delegated some decisions to officials. Unfortunately there was no requirement to publish details of up coming officers decisions. The first that residents heard of some plans was when a decision notice was issued some days later.
That is something that needs to change.
The government is consulting on how the option of “on line” decision making can be made available in the future.
Certainly many Executive member decision sessions – which last for a few minutes and produce little or no engagement from residents – might usefully be held without the need for unnecessary travel (subject to the usual requirement to allow public representations to be made).
The first meeting in public may be the Council’s AGM at which a new Lord Mayor will be elected.
The meeting is scheduled to take place on 27th May.