Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, has outlined provisions put in place to enable each district council to hold meetings remotely in order for council business to safely proceed during the Coronavirus emergency.
Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides the Department for Communities with a power to make Regulations regarding local government meetings. The Regulations make provision to enable district councils to hold meetings remotely including by (but not limited to) telephone conferencing, video conferencing, live webcast and live interactive streaming. The Regulations apply to all councils and all council meetings including committee or sub-committee meetings, executive meetings and joint committees of two or more councils.
Provisions have been made for remote access to council meetings by members of the Council and the public.
Minister Hargey said: “These regulations that my Department has put in place will be welcomed by councils as it will enable them to proceed with their democratic business while meeting social distancing requirements. This crisis has required new ways of working for many and these changes will enable councils to make the changes needed to ensure important business continues.”
Councils are also permitted to postpone their annual meeting up to 30 September and hold other meetings as they consider necessary. Information which generally has to be made available at Council offices will now be made available on Council websites.