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Legal challenge for continuation of virtual planning meetings is lodged

Words: Laura Edgar
Virtual planning meeting / iStock-1088347334

The Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO), Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and Hertfordshire County Council have lodged a legal challenge in the High Court that seeks a continuation of local authority remote meetings beyond 6 May 2021.

Under emergency legislation, planning committee meetings have been allowed to be held virtually during restrictions implemented to stem the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The Coronavirus Act 2020 gained royal assent on 25 March 2020 after being fast-tracked through both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The 1972 Local Government Act requires councillors to be present to decide applications. The new act makes provisions for “persons to attend, speak at, vote in, or otherwise participate in, local authority meetings without all of the persons, or without any of the persons, being together in the same place”.

The regulation is for meetings required to be held before 7 May 2021.

The two bodies and the council included an application for the court to expedite proceedings to guarantee that a decision is made before the deadline.

The Local Government Association (LGA), the National Association of Local Councils and the Welsh Government's housing and local government minister have been listed as interested parties. They will have the opportunity to submit evidence if they wish to.

A statement on the ADSO website says: “We are pleased with the quality of our evidence and we thank all those authorities who have both written to the secretary of state and submitted evidence to us in support of our claim.”

Image credit | iStock