Proceedings for a court declaration that virtual meetings can proceed past 6th May 2021 was heard today in the High Court before the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Dame Victoria Sharp and the Hon Mr Martin Chamberlain QC.
ADSO and LLG instructed Counsel, Peter Oldham QC of 11KBW to make submissions and we thank the Local Government Association and the National Association of Local Councils for their participation as interested parties.
We now await the judgement of the court which, given the urgency of the situation, is expected earlier than might otherwise be the case.
LLG and ADSO remain immensely grateful to our members for their support in the pursuit of these proceedings and for their contributions to the evidence put before the court.
John Austin, Chair of ADSO said ““our members have been fully committed to these proceedings and we are immensely proud, as a small organisation, to be able to take our case to the High Court to seek to effect a change which will have sweeping beneficial impacts for all if successful. The ability to hold meetings remotely brings openness; it brings transparency and accountability to the process – not only in the way councillors behave, but in how Councils conduct their meetings and make them more accessible to the public. Councils deserve a great deal of credit for the way they have managed their business during the pandemic. If successful, our efforts will give them the flexibility to continue to serve their communities in the best possible way”.
Quentin Baker, President of LLG and Chief Legal Officer at Hertfordshire County Council said “LLG and ADSO have drawn on their close understanding of the local government sector to seek a way to deliver the option to enable councillors to remotely attend meetings. There is much support for this option which has the potential to make the role of councillor more accessible to our citizens and contribute to the sustainability plans of our councils. Over the last 12 months councils have demonstrated their ability to effectively deliver this option and it is hoped that the court will support this application.”
Crowd Justice Funding Support
ADSO and LLG are two small organisations trying to effect an essential national change that will enable local authorities to function more efficiently and effectively, not just throughout the remaining path out of lockdown, but on an ongoing basis. The legal action is hugely valuable to all local authorities, however it comes at a significant price to LLG and ADSO and we would welcome any financial support you are able to give by donating to our page on Crowd Justice. We hope you can support us in securing a better future. Thank you to those who have contributed to date.
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21st April 2021