COUNCILLORS could return one day to Powys County Council’s chamber in County Hall for meetings.
At a meeting of the council on Friday, April 30, a whole host of changes to the constitution were agreed unanimously by councillors.
The changes are needed to reflect the Local Government and Elections Act (Wales) 2021 which was passed in March – just before the Senedd broke up for the election campaign.
From 1 May, local authorities will be required to make arrangements to ensure their meetings are capable of being held remotely.
Head of legal and democratic services, Clive Pinney, explained: “Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been holding meetings remotely and that has been allowed because of Welsh Government emergency regulations.
“Those are coming to an end and the 2021 Act requires us to enable remote attendance hence this recommendation.”
Cllr Phil Pritchard (Welshpool Castle – Independent), said: “I wanted to double check, this doesn’t mean we have to have all meetings remotely?
“Once covid is over we are still free to have our meetings in the chamber should we wish to?”
Mr Pinney, said: “At this moment in time Covid regulations prevent us from doing so.
“To comply with social distancing regulations we can only have a maximum of 19 in the chamber.
“As they are relaxed there is an opportunity to go back to the chamber or it gives us an opportunity to continue fully remotely or have hybrid meetings.”
Cllr Tim Rees (Llanwrtyd Wells – Independent) said that he hoped to get back to having meetings, “as we used to” as soon as possible.
As part of the new legal requirements local authorities will also need to publish online, council meeting notices, summons and agendas.
Previously PCC needed to publish them on the notice board at County Hall in Llandrindod Wells.
Mr Pinney said: “We’ve been able not to do that because of the emergency regulations.”
“These documents are only now legally required to be published on the council’s website.
“Democratic Services committee thought we should continue to publish them on the notice board when covid allows, and also consider using social media to disseminate this information more widely.
“And we will do that as a matter of course but not required in the regulations.”
Under the new law the expectation is that all Welsh local authorities, community council’s, national park authorities, fire and rescue authorities and port health authorities will broadcast meetings electronically so that members of the public not there, can see and hear proceedings.
The expectation is that they will be shown live and will remain online available for people to see for some time after the meeting.
Other changes to the constitution include which were all approved are:
- Increasing the number of councillors that can sit on a scrutiny committee to 14.
- The Audit committee will be renamed the Governance and Audit committee.
- The Economy, Residents, Communities and Governance scrutiny committee will be renamed the Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee.
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