Agenda and minutes

EXTRAORDINARY, Council - Tuesday 17th March 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber. Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

951.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

The Chairman thanked Members for attending this meeting and then referred to the notices as detailed on the agenda.

952.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors B S Beale MBE, V J Bell, M F L Durham CC, M R Edwards, S P Nunn, N J Skeens, Mrs J C Stilts and C Swain.

953.

Declaration of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, other Pecuniary Interests or Non-Pecuniary Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraphs 6 - 8 inclusive of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs P A Channer disclosed a non-pecuniary interest as a Member of Essex County Council.

954.

COVID-19 Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To consider the report of the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Monitoring Officer seeking Members consideration of a process for governance arrangements because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease).

 

The report provided background information relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 and identified a process for the continuation of decision-making powers during the pandemic whilst seeking to avoid the spread of the virus and protect those who might be vulnerable.  The process included authorising any Director, in the interim, to determine business that otherwise would have been determined by the Council or its Committees and Working Groups in consultation with the Chairman of the Council, Leader of the Council and Leader of the Opposition or their substitute (as identified).

 

The Monitoring Officer presented his report and referred to the Secretary of State in a recent meeting advising Councils that all meetings should be suspended and in their place emergency powers should be set up.  It was noted that temporary legislation was being arranged by the Government to enable Councils / Committees to meet in a virtual form to enable decisions being made by Members, but current legislation did not allow for remote decision making. 

 

In response to a question regarding the convening of this meeting, the Monitoring Officer referred to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 and the provision for the Council to give five clear working days’ notice of a meeting taken place but that there was also provision within this Act for the Council to convene a meeting in a shorter period.

 

A debate ensued, and a number of Members raised concern regarding whether the proposal was premature in advance of there not having been any announcement from the Government.  Further information was provided at this time by the Monitoring Officer.

 

The Leader of the Council thanked Members for attending the meeting at short notice.  He provided some background information regarding this report, the very serious issue as a result of COVID-19 and how being a very small Council it would be in a very difficult position if 23 / 30% of its staff and Members was lost through self-isolation etc.  He took the Council through the five recommendations set out in the report and proposed an amendment to recommendation (ii) amending it to read “…shall end fully or partially and in any event a review will take place in eight weeks” to add a check and balance to the process.  The Leader explained that if the proposal was agreed and subsequently legislation regarding virtual meetings was made, this could be put in place without the need to come back to the Council.  In respect of recommendation (iii) the Leader proposed the following named substitutes:

 

 

Substitute Members

Leader of the Council

Councillors E L Bamford, M W Helm, S P Nunn, Mrs M E Thompson and Miss S White

Chairman of the Council

Councillors Mrs P A Channer CC,
M F L Durham CC, Mrs J L Fleming, B E Harker and J Stilts

Leader of the Opposition

Councillors Mrs P A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 954.