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Local democracy goes digital
Cabinet held first-ever virtual meeting to adhere to social distancing advice
Date published: 1st April 2020
North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet Councillors held their recent meeting via a video-streaming service keeping local democracy running while respecting social distancing and Coronavirus public health advice.
North Norfolk is among other local government organisations up and down the UK looking for innovative ways to keep vital district council procedures running. The move comes as we wait for the Coronavirus Act to be passed into law, allowing Councillors to hold meetings remotely. In many areas Councillors are currently required to be in the same room, as defined by the 1972 Local Government Act; fortunately in North Norfolk our constitution allows Cabinet to work with Officers to keep Council business moving.
The Council is keen that some of the important, time sensitive decisions should not be delayed during this extended period of uncertainty, so whilst we wait for the regulations to be made, decisions are being taken using officer-delegated powers. To put as much engagement with Members around that decision making as possible, and to provide accountability and transparency, we are continuing to use the Cabinet structure to provide an advisory committee to the officer making the decision.
On Monday 30 March, for the first time in the history of North Norfolk’s district council, Cabinet members met over video feed to discuss essential council services and ensure that democratic processes continue while the UK observes working-from-home advisories. Some of the decisions being made will be put on hold whilst the current situation re Covid 19 continues but it means that the Council will be able to move quickly once it eases.
The decisions that Cabinet asked officers to take on their behalf include;
• A review and refocus of the Big Society Fund – changing its name to the North Norfolk Sustainable Communities Fund
• A review of the Advice and Information contract (via the Citizens Advice Bureau)
• The approval of a new Sponsorship and Advertising Policy
• The procurement of the Revenues & Benefits IT system – ensuring improved working practices for one of the Council’s most essential services.
Leader of the Council, Sarah Butikofer said:
“It is a testament to the dedication of officers and members that new ways of working within legal boundaries have been found in these extraordinary circumstances. Everyone is working flat out to deliver our emergency response to residents and continue the democratic business of the Council.
For updates on how your council can help you at this time north-norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus
Last updated: 2nd April 2020