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The Covid Bill and Local Authority Meetings

on Tuesday, 24 March 2020.

As a result of coronavirus (Covid-19), the ability of local authorities to make decisions has become more and more difficult.

On 19 March, the Coronavirus Bill was introduced in the House of Commons (Bill 122).

Prior to this, on 16 March the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP had stated that the government would consider bringing forward legislation to remove the requirement for the AGM to take place in person and to allow other public body. Therefore, council decision-making committee meetings could be held virtually for a temporary period.

However, there was nothing to this effect on the face of the bill.

During the course of the second reading in the House of Commons on 23 March, the government introduced a number of amendments, including Section 78 on local authority meetings.

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Like many provisions in the Bill, it empowers the making of further decisions once the Bill receives Royal Assent. Therefore, much of the detail will be in that secondary legalisation.

The power is broad and provides a time-limited opportunity for the Secretary of State, or the devolved governments in respect of Wales and Northern Ireland, to bring forward almost unlimited changes to way in which any public authority meetings are held or conducted. Councils and fire and rescue authorities are amongst the bodies covered.

The full text of S.78 can be found here.

For more information on the Covid Bill and local authority meetings, please contact Mark Health or Allison Cook in our Public Sector team, call 0117 314 5637, or complete the form below.

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