Virtual judgements v real impact

By Sir Bob Neill | 12 May 2021

Consensus can be hard to find, but from the Local Government Association (LGA) to the hero of Handforth, Jackie Weaver (and who knows, perhaps even the parish councillors of the same video fame), a near unanimous groan met the High Court’s judgement on remote meetings a fortnight ago.

The fault is not with the Court, who disagreed with the updated interpretation of local authority meetings proposed by Hertfordshire CC, the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ASDO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), but instead with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and what has been perceived by some as the unacceptable tardiness of ministers in not moving quicker to address this obvious oversight. After all, remedial legislation has been brought forward by both the Scottish and Welsh Governments in good time to ensure online meetings can continue, and while it is true ministers have been managing a busy legislative programme in Westminster, it would certainly not have been beyond the wit or resource of the Government to introduce primary legislation to amend the 1972 Act had there been the will to do so.

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