Weekly message from John Austin, ADSO Chair

We are now two weeks into the coronavirus restrictions, and I hope you are all keeping well. If we hadn’t realised it before, we now know that we are in the most serious situation of our lifetimes.  I know you will join me in sending our condolences to all those who have lost loved ones. Our lives have changed beyond recognition in a matter of weeks. Let’s hope that when we do come out of this, we are in a much better world with the right priorities and values. NHS and other carers, plus all key workers, are rightly becoming heroes in our eyes and, as a society, we must ensure that they reap the rewards in the future and get the recognition they so richly deserve. Surely the Government cannot keep short-changing the public sector, when it is those workers who are carrying the bulk of the burden and more importantly risking their own health and those of their families in the process. I saw a report last night which highlighted that those at most risk at the moment are generally the lowest paid. That surely has to change. And don’t get me started on the matter of Premier League Football clubs pleading poverty and taking advantage of the Government’s job retention (furlough) scheme for their non-playing staff, whilst already over-paid players are still earning obscene amounts of money for doing nothing!

As I am writing this, the regulations on remote meetings have arrived. ADSO is working with the LGA, LLG, CfPs, Socitm (The Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation) and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to co-ordinate our activities and provide support to authorities. This will include a central hub, hosted by the LGA, which you can access for all sorts of information ranging from technology available for remote meetings, case studies on notable practice, through to councillor support. If you have case studies that you would like to share, please send them to me.

Remote Meeting Regulations – Guidance.

The Secretary of State does not intend issuing any guidance so (in true democratic services fashion) we have done it ourselves and is

attached here

extension: pdf

. The guidance is an immediate response to the regulations and is based on the information available at the time. We are conscious that there are still a number of questions to be answered and we are in dialogue with relevant civil servants to seek more explanation and clarity around certain issues. Therefore, we will update the guidance when we have further information. Joanna Boaler has also helpfully uploaded the explanatory memorandum to the regulations onto the members’ forum.

 

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we had written a letter for the MJ. I’m pleased to say that it appears in this week’s edition on page 10.

Paul Wickenden took part in an IIMC webinar recently on remote meetings direct from the USA.  Paul found it very interesting and has sent me a link to the information which you may find useful in these challenging times.  He liked it so much that he’s signed up for a second one next week.

https://www.primegov.com/webinar-archive/a-municipal-clerks-guide-to-running-virtual-public-meetings

You will find details of future IIMC webinars here:

https://www.primegov.com/upcoming-events

You will have seen on the forum that ADSO is donating £500 to a nominated charity supporting communities during the current crisis. I apologise but I got the closing date wrong in the original message on the forum. So, to be clear, the window for nominations is 2 weeks. That takes us up to the Easter weekend, so allowing for that, we’ll close nominations at 5pm on Tuesday 14 April and draw the lucky winner the day after. Get your nominations in and the best of luck!

Not surprisingly there has been increased activity on the members’ forum, mainly around the Coronavirus. Wayne has helpfully split the discussions into different threads as much as possible to make it easier for you to access the various themes. We have also been posting updates and documents on the home page of the website. Please take a look. I’m sure you will find them helpful.

Other recent posts on the forum include:

  • Adoption of Neighbourhood Plans
  • Delegation to Heads of ICT
  • NHS Organisations Quality Accounts

And finally, ADSO’s accounts for 2019 are now available on the website.  Click on ‘About Us’ in the toolbar. My thanks to John Lynch who does a great job in looking after the pennies.

Please keep safe.

John Austin
ADSO Chair

 

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