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Covid: Weymouth Town Council holds meeting on beach

Reported by lily | June 25th, 2021 @ 12:48 AM

Covid: Weymouth Town Council holds meeting on beach

A town council has SLOT XO met on a beach after a rule change meant it could no longer hold public meetings online.

Weymouth Town Council wants the government to give English parish and town councils the same rights to meet online as their Welsh counterparts.

It said it would be unable to comply with Covid social distancing guidelines if it met in its council chambers.

The government said it was considering evidence on the use of remote meetings during the pandemic.

Temporary rules allowing parish and town councils in England to meet and make decisions online expired on 6 May so, although Weymouth's town councillors met virtually to discuss the council's Annual Governance Return, the vote to approve it had to be taken in-person.

'Inequality' On its website, the council said: "With 29 councillors and up to five officers who need to attend, space in the Weymouth council chamber would have been significantly limited and the public may not have been able to attend."

It said councils in Wales had been "supported by their government" and it was "drawing attention to this inequality and attack on democracy".

Town clerk Jane Biscombe said: "We're not saying we want all our meetings to be virtual. We want to have that in our toolbag to be able to use when it will enhance local democracy."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "The government has published updated guidance highlighting how councils can minimise the risks of face-to-face meetings and provided unprecedented emergency funding to councils to help them manage the impact of the pandemic.

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