Venue: Microsoft Teams
To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).
The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance presented the report which recommended action to address governance matters for Heybridge Parish Council, in light of new virtual meeting legislation.
Councillors A S Fluker, Leader of the Council, R G Boyce, Chairman of the Council and M S Heard, Leader of the Opposition supported the recommendations as set out in the report.
It was noted that Maldon District Council would be supporting the new Parish Clerk as much as possible.
The Director of Service Delivery RESOLVED that:
(i) the following three members be appointed in the absence of an election in Heybridge Basin Parish to be Parish Councillors;
· District Councillor Michael Edwards
· District Councillor Bryan Harker
· Former Parish Councillor Jenny Sjollema
(ii) support be provided for the convening of a virtual meeting as soon as possible with the purpose of choosing a Chairman, appointing a temporary Parish Clerk and delegating decision-making to that Clerk.
To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).
The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance presented the report seeking an agreed approach for governance arrangements for the Council. Within the report were three options for consideration along with the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The Director referred to discussions that had taken place with Members regarding these options.
Councillor M S Heard, Leader of the Opposition, highlighted how the Independent Group had been holding regular meetings via Microsoft Teams. They had discussed the options set out in the report in depth and at this point Councillor Heard thanked the Directors for the good work that they had done. It was noted that option three was the option supported by the Independent Group.
Councillor A S Fluker, Leader of the Council advised that the general feeling amongst Members was to move to virtual meetings as soon as possible and he referred to discussions he had with the Monitoring Officer who reported that there was still a lot of work to be done around procedure rules. The Leader highlighted the importance of retaining the COVID-19 Interim Measures Group (COVID-19 Group) until virtual meetings were operational to enable the Council to respond quickly to any urgent matters that may arise. These views were echoed by Councillor R G Boyce, Chairman of the Council.
Councillor Fluker suggested that the Council could at its first virtual meeting consider the future of the COVID-19 Group.
Councillor Heard proposed that a one-hour meeting be arranged with all Members as a training, non-public meeting and providing opportunity for each Member to have two minutes to raise any questions relating to virtual meetings that they may have. He felt this would assist in getting Members up to speed with the virtual meeting requirements. In response, Councillor Fluker advised that prior to this it was necessary for the Council to agree the software it was going to run to facilitate the meetings. He highlighted how the Council had to be mindful when moving to facilitate virtual meetings that connectivity, hardware and training were considered.
The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance reported that a project group (of Officers) had been set up and was working to an agreed project plan in respect of virtual meetings. This work included identifying software solutions, hardware requirements etc.
In response to a question, Members were advised that the Monitoring Officer would present new procedure rules relating to the delivery of virtual meetings to the COVID-19 Group for consideration.
The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that having listened to the comments of Members, he had identified a further option (option four) for consideration. He outlined option four as follows:
· To reinstate full Council and District Planning Committee as soon as possible, ideally by end of May to ensure Members can undertake the urgent business of Council (including urgent issues that would have gone to Committee);
· Monthly Council meetings;
· A further paper will be brought forward to introduce the protocols for the meetings and where there will be exceptions to the ... view the full minutes text for item 2.